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Škoda Holding
Type Private
Founded 1859
Headquarters Plzeň, Czech Republic
Industry Conglomerates
Products turbines
electric locomotives
low-floor trams
underground trains
Revenue (turnover) €262 million (2005)
Employees 3,600

Škoda Works, today Škoda Holding, a.s. (plus a variety of small companies in the Czech and Slovak republics whose names still contain the name Škoda) was the largest industrial enterprise in Austria-Hungary and later in Czechoslovakia, one of its successor states. It was also one of the largest industrial conglomerates in Europe in the 20th century.


The company was founded by the noble family Waldstein in 1859 and was bought by Emil Škoda in Plzeň during 1869. It soon established itself as Austria-Hungary's leading arms manufacturer producing heavy guns for the navy, mountain guns or mortars along with the Skoda M1909 machine gun as one of its noted products. Besides producing arms for the Austro-Hungarian military, Skoda also manufactured locomotives, aircraft, ships, machine tools, steam turbines, buses and equipment for power utilities and still do so to this day. In 1859, Count Wallenstein-Vartenberk set up a branch of his foundry and engineering works in Plzeň. The output of the plant, employing over a hundred workers, included machinery and equipment for sugar mills, breweries, mines, steam engines, boilers, iron bridge structures, and railway facilities. In 1869, the plant was taken over by Emil Škoda, an industrious engineer and dynamic entrepreneur.

Škoda was quick to expand business, and in the 1880s founded what was then a very modern steelworks capable of delivering castings weighing dozens of tons. Steel castings and, later, forgings for larger passenger liners and warships went on to rank alongside the sugar mills as the top export branches of Škoda's factory.

Before and during WWII

Panzer 35(t) tank

In 1899, the ever expanding business was transformed into a joint-stock company, and before the First World War Škoda Works became the largest arms manufacturer in Austria-Hungary. It was a navy and army contractor, mainly supplying heavy guns and ammunition.

Exports included castings, such as part of the piping for the Niagara Falls Power Plant or for the Suez Canal sluices, as well as machinery for sugar mills in Turkey, breweries throughout Europe, and guns for the Far East and South America.

The First World War brought a drop in the output of peacetime products. Huge sums were invested into expanding production capacities. By this time, Škoda Works already held a majorities in a number of companies in the Czech Lands and abroad that were not involved in arms manufacture. In 1917, the company had 35,000 employees in Plzeň alone.

Following the emergence of the Czecho-Slovak Republic in 1918, in the complex economic conditions of post-war Europe the company was transformed from what was exclusively an arms manufacturer into a multi-sector concern. In addition to traditional branches, the production programme embraced a number of new concepts, such as steam (and later electric) locomotives, freight and passenger vehicles, aircraft, ships, machine tools, steam turbines, power-engineering equipment, etc.

In 1923, the company's world-famous registered trademark - the winged arrow in a circle - was entered in the Companies Register. The deteriorating political situation in Europe saw arms production rise again in the mid-thirties.

Škoda manufactured the world's first triple-barrelled gun turrets for the Tegetthoff class of battleships of the Austro-Hungarian navy. Prior to World War II Škoda also produced LT-35 and LT-38 tanks, which are better known under their German labels Panzer 35(t) and Panzer 38(t). These tanks were originally produced for the Czechoslovak army and their production continued during the occupation by Nazi Germany. They were used extensively by the Wehrmacht in the Polish campaign, the Battle of France and also in German invasion of the Soviet Union.

In 1924, Škoda Works acquired the Laurin-Klement car manufacturer, later known as Škoda Auto. Both companies separated again after 1945 because the whole Czechoslovak economy became a planned economy.

After WWII

Škoda 14 Tr trolley bus in Vilnius

ES499.1 locomotive

After WWII, in 1945 (the year when nationalisation efforts began in Czechoslovakia and when the Communists started to come to power) Škoda was nationalized and many sections were split from the company (e.g. the car works in Mladá Boleslav - Škoda Auto, the aircraft plant in Prague, some factories in Slovakia, and other plants producing food-industry equipment). The company was renamed Závody Vladimíra Iljiče Lenina (Vladimir Lenin Plants) in 1951, but since the new name caused losses of sales abroad, the name was changed back to Škoda in 1953. The factory concentrated on markets in Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc. The company had produced wide range of heavy machinery (such as nuclear reactors and locomotives). Lack of updates to its product designs and infrastructure had considerably weakened the company's competitive position and its brand.

Since 1962 Škoda became well known in the USSR and other countries as a trolley bus manufacturer, beginning to export Škoda 9 Tr, one of its most successful trolley buses. The successor, Škoda 14 Tr, manufactured between 1982 and 1997, is still widely used, for example, in post-Soviet states.

In 1978 the company was turned into the government-owned group of companies ("koncern") Škoda. It was based in Plzeň and consisted of the companies: První brněnská strojírna (First Machine Works of Brno), ČKD Blansko, ČKD Dukla Praha-Karlín in Prague, Slovenské energetické strojárne S. M. Kirova (Slovak S. M. Kirov Energy Machine Works) in Tlmače, and Výzkumný ústav energetických zařízení (Energy Facilities Research Institute) in Brno.

After the communist party lost powerin late 1989, the company was privatized into the hands of management. Mismanagement and assets stripping led to collapse - the company was restructured and some factories closed. Except for some smaller companies named Škoda and Škoda Auto, after the chaotic 1990s period the Czech Škoda companies were put together (again) within the [holding company Škoda Holding, a.s. in 2000.

Following the change in political climate in 1989, ŠKODA started along the path of privatization, and used this time to come up with an optimal production programme, make new business contacts, and look for markets other than those that had so far been its priority (and only) markets, i.e. the Comecon countries and the Soviet Union, which collapsed after 1989.

In 1992, the company was privatized by the so-called Czech method. It began expanding its production activities (e.g. by acquiring the TATRA and LIAZ vehicle works and constructing a plant to produce aluminium drinks cans). This expansion put the company's financial stability in jeopardy. In 1999, it concluded a standstill agreement with its main creditor banks, and restructuring of the entire capital structure of the Škoda group was launched. The result was legal and financial stability at the company. Now the sectoral restructuring of the production companies in the group is under way. In April 2000, ŠKODA HOLDING a.s. took over at the helm, controlling primary nineteen subsidiaries and most product lines.

Present production

Hall of transportation section, parts of tram Škoda 14 T on left, modernized metro wagon 81-71 on right.

Power section is producing steam turbines or heat exchangers and condensers.

Transportation section is producing trolleybuses, tramcars, electric locomotives, electric multiple units or rapid transit trainsets.



  • Škoda 6Tr
  • Škoda 7Tr
  • Škoda 8Tr
  • Škoda 9Tr
  • Škoda 14Tr
  • Škoda 14TrM
  • Škoda 14TrSF
  • Škoda 15Tr
  • Škoda 15TrM
  • Škoda 15TrSF
  • Škoda 17Tr
  • Škoda 21Tr
  • Škoda 22Tr
  • Škoda 24Tr Irisbus
  • Škoda 25Tr Irisbus
  • Škoda 26Tr Solaris
  • Škoda 28Tr Solaris
  • Škoda T 11
  • Škoda-Sanos S 200Tr


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  • Škoda 706

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