85th anniversary of Škoda in India
The 85th anniversary of four vehicles’ long-distance journey from Prague to Calcutta commemorates Škoda’s tradition in India.
The country soon became the seventh largest export market of the automobile manufacturer from Mladá Boleslav. In 2001, Škoda became the second European manufacturer to enter the Indian market and since then has steadily strengthened its position in the region.
Eighty-five years ago, on Saturday, 12 May 1934, a group of four Škoda Populars set out on a trip from the Prague Automobile Club to India. The semi-convertibles had one-litre four-cylinder engines with an output of 15 kW. Škoda’s new entry-level model, weighing in at 700 kg, carried a total load of 800 kg, including passengers. Led by Zbislav Peters, a lawyer and Czechoslovak ice hockey player, the seven participants embarked on a journey to India via the Balkans, Turkey, today’s Syria and Iraq. One crew even made a detour via Afghanistan.
After arriving in Calcutta the Škoda Populars went on to Mumbai, and from there by ship to Trieste. From the northern Italian port, the vehicles headed back to the Czech Republic. By the time they arrived in Prague on 10 September 1934, they had covered nearly 15,000 km, often over rough terrain and in harsh climatic conditions. On this long-distance journey, the new generation of Škoda vehicles proved their outstanding quality and reliability just as impressively as their high technical standards – the cars featured central tube frames and independent all-round suspension.
Over the past 18 years, ŠKODA has steadily consolidated its position in the Indian market, both in terms of the number of vehicles delivered and in brand awareness among Indian customers. The potential of the Indian market is immense: with currently more than 1.3 billion inhabitants, the country has the second highest population in the world, and GDP is growing at an annual rate of around seven per cent.