Mladá Boleslav - Škoda Auto, a Czech carmaker and a subsidiary of the Volkswagen group, has survived the financial crisis with no significant difficulties, thanks to the car scrapping scheme in Germany and Chinese demand.
However, in the following months, Škoda is likely to undergo the most significant changes since it was bought by Volkswagen in 1991. The reason is Winfried Vahland, Škoda's new chairman appointed by Volkswagen, formally assuming his post today, on 1 September 2010.
Vahland has a reputation of being willing to turn his visions into reality even at the cost of replacing key officials. And really, since April 2010, Škoda's employees are getting used to new faces - economic director Winfried Kraus and production director Michael Oeljeklaus, who previously worked on the same post for Volkswagen in Shanghai, China
In addition, Peik von Bestenbostel was appointed a new chief of internal communications today - until now, he has held the same post for the whole Volkswagen Group. Also, Jürgen Stackman will become a new marketing and sales director - he has had the same position in Ford's European central.
Another changes are likely to come soon.
More prestige, more responsibility
The arrival of such experienced managers means two things. The Czech car manufacturer is going to become a more prestigious brand within the Volkswagen empire, but it will also have to contribute more to the group's overall target, which is nothing less than becoming the world's biggest carmaker by 2018.
Škoda's new chairman is fully supported by Volkswagen's head Martin Winterkorn. "Winfried Vahland has been instrumental in making China Volkswagen's second home market," Winterkorn said.
So far, Vahland's business plan is not known yet. However, Vahland is known as an avid supporter of electric cars - although no VW electric cars are sold in Europe or the United States, Vahland has introduced a new electric model E-Lavida designated exclusively for the Chinese market. This can mean that Škoda will start to manufacture electric cars or other ecological models, for example in its factory in Vrchlabí, North Bohemia, whose production capacity is currently not being fully used.
Also, it is sure that Škoda will be selling more and more of its products to Russia, India and China, which together with Brazil constitute the so-called BRIC group of four emerging markets with enormous growth potential. This means that Škoda will have to come up with completely new models designed exclusively for these markets.
At the same time, the executive director of Volkswagen in Russia, Czech Martin Jahn, was appointed a director responsible for sales to companies for the whole Volkswagen Group. Jahn is an ex-deputy prime minister for economy, he was also a member of a special economic advisory board for the government of Mirek Topolánek (2006-2009).