The 20th anniversary of one of the most successful associations in the history of the automobile is celebrated this week: On April 16th, it will be 20 years since the beginning of the cooperation of the Czech automobile manufacturer √ †KODA Auto with Europe's largest automobile group Volkswagen. The entry of Volkswagen is linked with the rapid rise of the brand with the winged arrow as an internationally successful manufacturer. Since 1991, √ †KODA has quadrupled its worldwide sales under the group umbrella of Volkswagen and has expanded its vehicle range from one product in 1991 to currently five model series. In the coming years, the manufacturer wants to continue boosting the growth course and increase sales to at least 1.5 million units per year in 2018. In order to achieve this, √ †KODA invests massively in new products and new markets, particularly in the countries of China, India, and Russia. At the same time, the company wants to continue to strengthen its strong position in the Czech and European markets.

"Together, √ †koda and Volkswagen have written a chapter of economic history. Back then, 20 years ago, few people believed in such a brilliant development of this brand. And at the time, hardly anybody thought it possible for Czechs and Germans to work together so well and in such a cooperative manner," said the Volkswagen CEO and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of √ †koda, Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn.

"The development of √ †KODA since Volkswagen's commitment has been unique in the automobile industry," emphasizes √ †KODA's Chairman of the Board, Prof. Dr. h.c. Winfried Vahland. "It was nothing less than the rebirth of a legendary automobile brand located in the heart of Europe. Under the umbrella of the Volkswagen Group, the brand was given new life and started a successful comeback. It was an extremely farsighted decision by the Volkswagen Group as well as the economically and politically responsible movers of the Czech Republic at the time to give this German-Czech alliance a chance. The company has utilized this opportunity in a remarkable fashion and wants to increase its performance even further in the next years," said Vahland. In this context, Vahland also thanked the Supervisory Board of √ †KODA led by the Volkswagen CEO Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn for its energetic support.

The rapid rise of the company is impressively illustrated by the development of the model range. Whereas √ †KODA built only one model ' the Favorit ' in 1991, the manufacturer stands for a whole range of modern vehicles today. Whether it is the Fabia, the Octavia, the Roomster, the Yeti, or the Superb ' when it comes to spaciousness, comfort, and the price/value ratio, the vehicles made in the Czech Republic are setting standards in their respective segments. They jump from sales record to sales record: In 2010, for the first time ever, more than three quarters of a million customers bought a √ †koda with the claim: "Simply Clever".

Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn: "The √ †koda brand stands for driving pleasure, technology, and quality in a first-rate price/performance ratio. That is the core of "Simply Clever". And with this positioning, √ †koda is a strategic spearhead for our Group."

The international presence of the company has also developed in an exceedingly successful fashion in the past years. At the start of the nineties, the Czech brand was still focused on its domestic market and European countries. Today, √ †koda has long been established in markets beyond Europe and sells its products in more than 100 countries. This effort was accompanied by a push into uncharted territories during the last ten years: In 2001, production was launched in India. And since 2007, the company has enjoyed a very successful presence in China. That country has become its strongest foreign market by now and contributed about a quarter of the brand's sales in 2010.

√ †KODA also values the commitment of its 25,000 employees worldwide as well as the employee representatives as an essential guarantor of the rise of the brand. Prof. Vahland: "In the last two decades, our team has given an extraordinary performance. It has actively and with great dedication supported the necessary changes and shaped them. I salute our employees and the employee representatives and thank them for their outstanding and responsible commitment. With his or her performance, everyone contributes to the success of the company."

On the basis of the successes of the last 20 years, the manufacturer is taking aim at new goals now: "Within the framework of the √ †KODA Growth Strategy, we want to at least double our sales in the next years and sell at least 1.5 million vehicles worldwide in 2018," explains Winfried Vahland. The core of the growth plans is an even greater internationalization of the company. In the future, the manufacturer wants to achieve more than half of its sales outside of Europe. Particularly in the growth markets of China, India, and Russia, √ †KODA wants to make significant gains. To achieve this, the model range is to be greatly expanded in the next years. "We will set standards for spacious vehicles with the best price/value ratio and clever ideas in the important markets of the world," Vahland emphasizes.

Furthermore, the manufacturer plans to clearly strengthen its local commitment in the important markets. Thus, the compact SUV Yeti will also be produced in China beginning in 2013. "We want to clearly increase our activities in China und in other growth markets," said the head of √ †KODA. He emphasized that in doing so the European market will remain unchanged for the company: "Europe and the Czech Republic remain our home base. With a successful development in the international growth markets, we also strengthen our good position at home."


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