Škoda Auto ( pronunciation (help·info), IPA:ʃkodʌ) is an automobile manufacturer in the Czech Republic. In 1991, it became a subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group.
The origins of Škoda go back to the early 1890s where, like many long-established car manufacturers, the company started out with the manufacture of bicycles. It was 1894, and 26-year old Václav Klement, who was a bookseller by trade in Mladá Boleslav, in today's Czech Republic, which was then part of Austria-Hungary, was unable to obtain the right spare parts to repair his German bicycle. Klement returned his bicycle to the manufacturers, Seidel and Naumann, with a letter, in Czech, asking for them to carry out repairs, only to receive a reply, in German, stating: "If you would like an answer to your inquiry, you should try writing in a language we can understand". A disgusted Klement, despite not having any previous technical experience, then decided to start his own bicycle repair shop, which he and Václav Laurin opened in 1895 in Mladá Boleslav. Before going into business partnership with Klement, Laurin was an already established bicycle manufacturer from the nearby town of Turnov.