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Laurin & Klement was a Czech automobile, motorcycle and bicycle manufacturer founded in 1895 in Mladá Boleslav, Kingdom of Bohemia (then part of Austria-Hungary, now the Czech Republic), by Václav Laurin and Václav Klement. Car production began in 1905, and the company soon became the largest car manufacturer in Austria-Hungary. In 1925 the company was acquired by the Škoda Works, and operated henceforth under the brand Škoda Auto (Skoda). It was acquired by industrial conglomerate Škoda Works in 1925 and re-branded as Škoda Auto.
Bicycles, and later motorcycles, were sold under the name Slavia. A good selection of images here.
In 1894, 26-year-old Václav Klement, who was a bookseller in Mladá Boleslav, Kingdom of Bohemia (today's Czech Republic, then part of Austria-Hungary), was unable to obtain spare parts to repair his German bicycle. Klement returned his bicycle to the manufacturers, Seidel and Naumann, with a letter, in Czech, asking 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". Not satisfied with the reply and realising the business potential, Klement, despite having no technical experience, decided to start a bicycle repair shop, which he and Václav Laurin opened in 1896 in Mladá Boleslav. Before going into partnership with Klement, Laurin was an established bicycle manufacturer in the nearby town of Turnov.
1896 Founded Laurin and Klement as velocipede manufacturers.
By 1905 the firm was manufacturing automobiles.
After World War I the company began producing trucks, but in 1924, after running into problems and being affected by a fire on their premises, the company sought a new partner.
Acquired by Skoda Steel Works.
An assembly line was used for production from 1930 onwards. In the same year a formal spin-off of the car manufacture into a new company, Akciová společnost pro automobilový průmysl or ASAP, took place. ASAP remained a wholly owned subsidiary of the Škoda Works and continued to sell cars under the Škoda marque.