Automobiles are one of the Czech Republic’s most famous exports. Many iconic car brands hail from this small European country, including Skoda, Tatra, and Škoda Auto (formerly known as Laurin & Klement).
Although you may be familiar with these cars and car manufacturers, did you know that there are dozens of other automobile companies in the Czech Republic?
Check out this list of 10 Czech car brands you probably never knew were from the Czech Republic.
Czech Car Brands
1) Škoda Auto
Škoda Auto, a part of Czech car brands and currently part of Volkswagen Group, is one of the leading automotive groups in Europe, and it is also the fourth-largest in terms of worldwide sales. Although based in Volkswagen’s historic hometown of Wolfsburg, Škoda Auto is a standalone company with its stock listed on various stock exchanges. These exchanges include Warsaw Stock Exchange (BSE) and the Prague Stock Exchange (PSE).
Since 1925, when Laurin & Klement began producing cars in a rented railway wagon factory in Mladá Boleslav, Škoda has been building vehicles under its name. It remains one of Central Europe’s biggest sellers, with approximately 350 thousand sold since 2000.
Tatra is one of, if not the oldest Czech car brands in all of Europe. A foreman of Count Vilém Salm’s glassworks, Václav Laurin, and his mechanic František Škoda founded tatra. The latter adopted his employer’s name as a trademark.
The company began producing bicycle prototypes in 1891, followed by motorized tricycles, and finally, in 1897 had its first motor vehicle. The company flourished as an exporter to Germany. And it sold subsidiaries through much of Western Europe, but wars restricted trade to more local markets, and sales plummeted.
During World War II, Tatra plants used production mainly for military purposes. Following WWII, most production was concentrated on trucks due to heavy demand around Central Europe.
Karosa, also spelled Karosá, is a company in Prague specializing in manufacturing buses and trolleybuses. In cooperation with Škoda Auto as one of the Czech car brands, it also produces cars and trucks. The company’s name comes from Karel Schuhmacher’s surname (Karla + Osa = Karosa).
However, it was founded in 1864. Nowadays, it has over 2000 employees and is one of the leading producers of coaches in Europe. The main production facilities are in Mladá Boleslav, where they assemble most of their vehicles.
They have been producing there since 1936. Karosa produces several coach types, including intercity buses, tourist coach models, and trolleybus models for public transport services and private use. All models have low-floor designs to allow disabled people or passengers with prams or luggage easy access.
More so, there are articulated versions available for long-distance travel and double-decker versions for sightseeing tours. Most models can also fit in the Cummins engines. Also, manufacturers like Volvo or Scania can use it too. It greatly depends on customer preferences.
In 1955, Liaz was founded as a truck manufacturer. Today it produces trucks and trailers with a gross weight of 3 to 14 tons, and Liaz also offers a range of diesel and natural gas engines. Its headquarters are in Pilsen, central Bohemia, and the French automotive group Renault Trucks owns the company.
Zetor is a brand of tractors and agricultural machinery produced by Zetor S.A. It is one of the Czech car brands manufacturer based in Brno, Czech Republic. Zetor focuses on tractors for utility, construction, and farming use; lawn and garden equipment; road machinery, plows, and mowers. Furthermore, It was Founded in 1921 as an aircraft engine manufacturer (producing licensed versions of de Havilland’s Gipsy engines). And it had its first tractor in 1932. The company merged with Škoda Works in 1991 but split again when Volkswagen Group bought Škoda.
One of Italy’s most famous sports car manufacturers and racing teams is Fiat, but did you know it has a partnership with Ferrari? While there is no such thing as an officially licensed F1 Ferrari, Ferrari provides some components and services. One of these companies is Autodelta.
They are also prominent as Czech car brands manufacturers. If a team wants to use a part or service from Ferrari but does not have access to it, they go through Autodelta, an intermediary between them and Ferrari. This same scenario happens in other racing series, such as NASCAR and IndyCar.
The first mass-produced vehicle in Czechoslovakia (and, arguably, in all of Europe) was a little motorized tricycle called Praga. Praga, which translates to Prague. Today, Prague is known for producing Czech car brands like Tatras and Skodas.
However, it still holds its unique automotive history dear by being home to several carmakers, including Roadster, Tatra, and Laurin & Klement. The country also has a small but thriving motorcycle industry with firms like Hymer.
Kaipan, a part of my favorite Czech car brands, is currently involved in export, automotive industry, and industrial machine production. They are best known for producing metal fabrication machines, and Kaipa’s most popular products include metal shears, metal punch presses, robotic welding systems, wire EDM machines, and laser-beam machines.
At last, their headquarters are located in Uherský Brod. They also have offices abroad in Italy, Poland, the United Kingdom, Belgium, France, and Spain.
9) Motors Luka EV
The Luka EV is a city commuter electric vehicle. Škoda Auto (Germany) and Siemens announced it has their collaboration. Luka won two primary international contests two years later — New York International Auto Show Design Award and International Design Excellence Award (IDEA). This award gave them recognition as one of the renowned Czech car brands.
In addition, the vehicle has a range of 75 miles and a top speed of 31 mph, with 100 percent renewable power. High-tech features include auto-parking technology, allowing it to park without driver intervention while keeping an eye on curbs and pedestrians to ensure safety.
Avia, formerly known as Laurin & Klement, is a Czech manufacturer of vehicles in Kopřivnice. Bicycle makers Karel and Václav Laurin and Tatra truck manufacturer František Klement founded it in 1906, initially as a maker of bicycles.
However, in 1907 they introduced their fir car under the name A-22, which classified it as one of another Czech brands. Avia is now part of Magna Steyr Motors, which purchased it in 1997.
Česká zbrojovka, formerly JAWA, manufactures motorcycles and mopeds based in Kopřivnice, Czech Republic. It has also produced bicycles, motorized tricycles, cars, and trucks. Established in 1923 as Jawa, it was nationalized after World War II.
Afterward, in 1993, it became a joint-stock company and was later privatized in 1996. In 2000, it merged with ČKD to form CZ-Auto. In 2010, Polish company WSK-Żuk (Wojskowe Zakłady Komunikacyjne) took over the JAWA motorcycles
Jawa derives from Jakub, and Jakub’s nickname was Jawurek, which means little jackel. The first products manufactured by JAWA were bicycles and bicycle parts for other manufacturers under the license agreement, and they later became the best Czech car brands and manufacturers.
Aero is a renowned aircraft manufacturer based in Prague, Czech Republic. Founded in 1919, Aero has been designing planes for over 90 years and currently employs 5,700 employees. Aero’s reach has extended beyond Europe to both North America and Asia in recent years.
The manufacturer’s best-known products include L-159 aircraft and Gripen fighter jets; however, Aero also produces commercial airliners such as Fokker 100 and Embraer 190 series. Aero has also announced its intention to branch out into other fields, including Robo-taxis for military and civilian use.