We start our series by exploring number plates in the country ŠKODA calls home, the Czech Republic. You are probably familiar with the Czech number plate because it features on most official photos of ŠKODAs.

The standard number plate you can see on the vast majority of Czech cars and motorcycles comprises a set of black characters on a white background. The first letter from the left indicates which of the country’s 14 regions the vehicle has been registered in. The letter S denotes the Central Bohemian Region, where the town of Mladá Boleslav – ŠKODA’s headquarters – is located. This is why ŠKODA cars feature a registration number with the letter S in official photos. You can tell if a car is from Prague because of the letter A. Use of the letters G, O, Q, W and CH (“CH” is counted as a single letter in Czech) is not permitted because they could be confused with the letters C and V and the digit 0.

SKODA-KODIAQ-RS-Blue-Drive

The current numbering system, launched in 2002, was prompted by the new administrative breakdown of the Czech Republic into regions. Registration numbers have five to seven characters and must contain at least one letter and one digit.

The first cluster of characters on the left, typically consisting of three characters, denotes the registration number series. This is followed by a space for the technical inspection (MOT) sticker. The right cluster is the serial number. Since 2004, when the Czech Republic joined the EU, number plates have also had a blue strip on the extreme left with the EU circle of stars and the Czech Republic’s country code.

SKODA-VINTAGE-Blue-Drive

History:

In 1905, a new regulation was adopted in what was then Austria-Hungary requiring all motor vehicles to be fitted with a state number plate. This regulation entered into force in 1906, ushering in the era of state number plates in the Czech Lands.

A lot has changed since then. The administrative structure, demographics, and even the system of governance are different. Above all, however, there are a lot more cars and motorcycles on the roads. In response, the registration number system had to evolve massively during the 20th century, so much so that the territory of what is now the Czech Republic is on its seventh system already.

What information is in a number plate?

SKODA-VINTAGE-Black-Drive

Interesting Facts:

Besides standard number plates, you may encounter several other formats on Czech roads. Diplomatic vehicles, for example, have blue lettering on a white background. You’ll recognise vintage and rally cars, on the other hand, by their green lettering on a white background, along with the letter V (for vintage) or R (for rally) first from the left. If you spot a number plate with black characters on a white background that consists solely of numbers and no letters, this is a vehicle belonging to the Czech Army.

Special-cars-en

The latest addition to the number-plate family is vanity plates, available to Czech drivers since January 2016. Unlike standard plates, these have eight characters (motorcycles have seven), the traditionally blue strip with the EU flag can be switched to turquoise on request, and – the most important detail – drivers decide on the number themselves, on condition that it is not vulgar, hateful or an abbreviation for any government authorities or institutions. A two-plate car set will set you back a cool CZK 10,000, but will enable you to drive around, for instance, with the legend FANT0MAS (Fantômas is a criminal genius in a series of French films popular in the Czech Republic) or BATM0BIL.


What makes the Czech market so specific
Interview with Vítězslav Pelc, Spokesperson Corporate Communications

How would you sum up ŠKODA’s historical presence on the Czech market?

ŠKODA is one of the oldest carmakers in the world, and it started out on the Czech market. That was back in 1895, when it went by the name LAURIN & KLEMENT. Since then, the Czech market has been absolutely crucial for the company as it has long and unshakeably held the top spot here. Take the figures for 1938, for example. In that year, ŠKODA sold 4,874 vehicles in Czechoslovakia (excluding Carpathian Ruthenia), tantamount to a market share just shy of 40% at the time. Worldwide, the Czech Republic is the third most important market for ŠKODA cars (after China and Germany).

Pelc-circle

Vítězslav Pelc
Spokesperson Corporate Communications

This relationship is reciprocated in that, just as the Czech market is key to the ŠKODA brand, ŠKODA is also important for the Czech market and for Czech society at large. It plays a significant role not only as a sales leader, but also as a central plank of the domestic economy. It accounts for a large part of gross domestic product, is a major employer, and is one of the largest contributors to public budgets each year. In 2017, for instance, it paid more than CZK 8.3 billion in income tax to the Czech Republic’s central government budget, making it the country’s largest taxpayer in the process.

What is ŠKODA’s current status on the Czech market?

Put simply, highly unique. The ŠKODA brand takes up a third of its home market, the Czech Republic. You won’t see this anywhere else in the world, even in other countries with their own brands. This stability stems in part from tradition and customer loyalty, but is mainly driven by the range of products on offer – which respond to current customer preferences – and by the dense, high-quality network of authorised dealers and service centres. The ŠKODA brand enjoyed a record year on the Czech market in 2017, delivering 95,000 cars to Czech customers, up almost 8% (7,000 cars) on 2016. Another major milestone was reached around mid-December 2017, the point at which the company aggregated over 100,000 new incoming client orders in a single calendar year for the first time ever. There is every indication that 2018 will be just as successful.

SKODA-OCTAVIA-Red-Drive

Which models sell best on the Czech market and how do they fare against competitors in their class?

The ŠKODA brand is currently ahead of the competition in all segments in which it maintains a presence. Again, this simply goes to show how extraordinarily popular its cars are on the domestic market. Breaking the ŠKODA portfolio down by model, the ŠKODA OCTAVIA is consistently the most popular car among Czech drivers. Reporting total annual sales of 28,900 units, it is way ahead in its class (with a share of more than 70%) and is also the leader in the absolute rankings. The second best-selling car on the Czech market and the leader among superminis is the ŠKODA FABIA, with annual sales of 25,200 units. The third most popular car on the Czech market is the ŠKODA RAPID, the vehicle of choice for 12,900 Czech customers. Our flagship, the ŠKODA SUPERB, is also highly successful, not only topping the D-segment, but also ranking fourth on the market as whole (9,500 units). As its successful SUV offensive advances, the ŠKODA brand is also making headway in the sports utility vehicles segment, spearheaded by the ŠKODA KODIAQ’s 5,800 sales. Although the KAROQ was not launched until the final quarter of 2017, it immediately clocked up great sales results. The last and smallest ŠKODA model, the CITIGO, is also at the forefront of its segment, boasting 3,500 customers in 2017.

ŠKODA KAROQ SCOUT

Is there anything specific to your market or your country?

As I’ve already noted, ŠKODA’s unique market position, unparalleled anywhere else in the world, is a specific factor. Consequently, it is cast in the role of leader, so it is watched like a hawk and its actions reverberate across the industry. This is a position of immense responsibility in relation not only to the entire automotive sector – whether directly or through the supply and subcontracting chain – but also the Czech economy as a whole. Looking at the sales breakdown, roughly half of newly registered cars belong to corporate fleets, and the other half is made up by retail customers. ŠKODA is successful in tenders held by central government authorities, regional and municipal institutions, and private companies. For example, it has supplied almost 20,000 vehicles to the Czech Republic since 1993, and thousands of ŠKODAs are used by ministries and state organisations. ŠKODA also collaborates with and supports a wide range of cultural, sports and non-profit organisations, engages in social responsibility, and maintains an environmentally friendly approach.

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