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Interview with Jaroslav Hercog, director of Škoda Auto Slovakia

For 4 years we can be proud of the most reliable and comfortable partner on the road, which is Škoda Auto Slovakia. Thanks to this partnership we have the opportunity to perfectly cover both the preparation of the race and the race itself. Škoda Auto Slovakia is celebrating its 30th birthday and on this opportunity we decided to include ourselves among the congratulators and interviewed Mr. Jaroslav Hercog, Managing Director of Škoda Auto Slovakia.

Hello Mr. Hercog, first of all we would like to wish you all the best for your first 30th birthday, many happy customers and happy kilometers. How would you describe the first 30 years of Skoda in Slovakia in a few sentences?

I am really glad to have the opportunity to take a review of such an extraordinary anniversary. Thirty years of Škoda’s presence on the Slovak market started in 1993 with the establishment of an official dealership, which gradually grew into the widest authorised network among car brands in Slovakia. Today, it consists of 65 authorised partners providing sales and servicing of vehicles, plus another 8 service points, where more than 2,000 people work together. The sales figures speak for themselves: in three decades of our market presence we have been the market leader continuously, during this period we have delivered more than 630 thousand cars to our customers in Slovakia. Thanks to our now legendary models, such as the Fabia and the modern Octavia, I can safely say that they have largely motorised Slovakia in the modern era. Of course, a significant role in this success was played by our employees, who passed on the values of the brand to satisfied customers. Currently, like the entire automotive industry, the Škoda Auto brand is undergoing and will undergo significant changes. In these changes, however, we are not forgetting our responsible approach to the environment and our social responsibility, which includes support for diverse automotive, cultural and sporting events, as well as support for the underprivileged.

Skoda is not only a perfect partner on the road, but you also support many sportspeople and interesting projects. What do you choose collaborations based on and what motivates you to help?

We see it as the duty of the successful and strong to share their success in this way. As a market leader for three decades, we belong to this group. And since Škoda has cycling in its DNA thanks to its founders, who started as bicycle manufacturers in the late 19th century, it’s only natural that the cooperation should be directed towards this sport. Today, the brand is building on its history by supporting world cycling events such as the Tour de France and the Vuelta. Domestic ones include the Škoda Bike Open Tour mountain bike race, the biggest road cycling race, the Tour of Slovakia (Okolo Slovenska), L’Etape by Tour de France Slovakia or the traditional Peter Sagan Children’s Tour, which supports young cycling talents. However, Škoda Auto can also boast the longest sports partnership, as the brand has been supporting the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship for 31 years and has also been a partner of the Slovak Ice Hockey Association since 1993.

The origins of the Škoda brand date back to 1895, first as Laurin & Klement and from 1927 as the Škoda Corporation. Thus, we can say that it is a strong brand with a tradition. Eventually, several cars of this reliable brand from the 1940s or 1950s were also participants in the 500KM SLOVENSKÝCH race, which is probably also a sign of quality and timelessness. How do you perceive Skoda’s development?

Škoda Auto has been writing its history for almost 130 years. The first Laurin & Klement Voiturette A was introduced to the public at the end of 1905 and built on the success of the bicycle and motorcycle industry. The following decades were devoted to development, innovation and brand building. And we continue to this day, still delivering the best solutions for individual mobility. Our Enyaq model is at the forefront of electric car sales in Slovakia, and our campaigns help educate Slovak drivers about the benefits of this mode of transport. At the same time, however, we also focus on themes such as sustainability and environmental protection. That’s why, as the leader of electromobility in Slovakia, we have introduced these days the project The Most Beautiful Sounds of Slovakia, which personifies the new brand essence that emphasizes the environment, connection with nature and discovering new

What made the 500KM SLOVENSKÝCH project appeal to you? Aren’t you tempted to take part in the race as a participant? What car would you consider taking part in? 😊

Not only motorsport, but also a rich history inherently belongs to the Škoda brand and both these aspects are connected by the 500 km Slovenských event. For us, this year’s event is also connected with the celebration of the 30th anniversary of our modern history in Slovakia. In addition to the exciting motoring duels, visitors will also see our latest models in a special accompanying fleet, which will of course include the electric Enyaq.

Personally, I believe that one day I will be able to experience the atmosphere of the community of fans of historic vehicles for myself and I will be sitting directly behind the wheel of one of the historic gems. If I had to choose a model to take part in the 500 km Slovenských, it would be a Škoda Popular in Monte Carlo version.

Was Skoda your first car? What is your first memory of Škoda?

Our family is very connected to the Škoda brand, my father owned a Škoda Felicia roadster, which he repaired himself as a mechanic. When his family grew, he traded it in for a blue Skoda 1000 MB. And my first car was also a Skoda, specifically a Felicia LX 1,3/44 kW in red. As a former company car, my wife and I bought it a year after I joined Škoda Auto Mladá Boleslav.

We in the 500KM SLOVENSKÝCH team are of the opinion that historic vehicles are a technical monument and at the same time a cultural heritage of the nation. What do you think about this message?

We are extremely proud of the history of our brand, one of the oldest in the world by the way, its story and achievements. The individual vehicles of our history chart not only technological progress, but also the strength of determination, the human spirit and can serve as a source of inspiration. That is why we regularly commemorate anniversaries or significant days for groundbreaking models and, to this day, I personally have a strong bond with them. I believe that through events like this, people will also have the opportunity to look back on historical events, be motivated by them and fully appreciate the progress that has taken place over the years.

In addition to supporting 500KM SLOVENSKÝCH, you also support the youngest competitors of preschool age in the 100m Bratislavských and 100m Košických races, who race on pedal cars – miniature versions of the Škoda 1000 model. For the race you donate the main prize “car for the weekend” in the form of the iconic and timeless Škoda Enyaq. Do you think that this is where the affection for driving and maybe even for the Škoda brand is born somewhere?

Children can get excited about things that interest them. If it’s an affection for motoring that perhaps later translates into a job in that field, of course, I’m delighted. As Škoda still makes up the largest part of the fleet of car brands in Slovakia, I believe that the affection for it will be passed on from generation to generation, just as the cars themselves were once passed on. Of course, we don’t expect this to happen just like that, without our input. That’s why we are working hard to deliver models for future drivers that meet their expectations while reflecting the demands of the times and reflecting technical developments in the field.

Is there anything you would like to say to the participants or fans of 500 KM SLOVENSKÝCH?

I’ll be glad if they really enjoy this event to the fullest, either behind the wheel or as fans. Such gatherings full of great atmosphere, togetherness and joy are a great starter for the days to come and a lot of friendships and positive energy can be extracted from them. And with that, every day is immediately more beautiful for everyone.