Skoda Auto set another record in 2018, the VW Group-owned brand delivering 1,253,700 vehicles, up 4.4%. Sales revenue also increased by 4.4% compared to the previous year  - the best result in the company's history at EUR17.3bn (2017: EUR16.6bn). Despite challenging conditions, the operating profit of EUR1.4bn (2017: EUR1.6bn) and a return on sales (ROS) of 8.0% remained at high levels in 2018. In addition, the return on investment (ROI) of 26.3% was high among the competition. In 2018, Skoda Auto invested extensively in the company's future, increasing investments in tangible assets by more than 22%. These funds were used for new products, drive and battery technologies as well as the further development of the sites. Skoda Auto invested more than EUR500m directly in plants and facilities in the Czech Republic. Expenditure on research and development increased year-on-year by 46.8% last year.

Skoda Auto CEO Bernhard Maier said: "The success of Skoda Auto in the fiscal year 2018 is a strong team effort. My heartfelt thanks to all Skodians. By delivering 1,253,700 vehicles around the world, we set another record in 2018. Our product campaign is proving effective; the models have been very well received by our customers. At the same time, 2018 was a year of considerable challenges for Skoda. We assumed responsibility for several tasks within the Volkswagen Group: the regional management of India and Russia, the development and production of the Passat family at the Kvasiny site, and the expansion of production capacities at a multi-brand plant. The transition to the new WLTP cycle and the trade dispute between the US and China created uncertainty and reluctance to buy in some markets. Negative exchange rate effects, as well as increased personnel costs and high upfront expenditure for the future, are also reflected in the result. We have actively counteracted these challenges with a comprehensive Performance programme, and we are continuing to systematically pursue this course because 2019 will also be a challenging year. Despite the ongoing difficult global economic conditions, the transformation process in the Automotive industry is also gaining momentum for Skoda. With our Strategy 2025, we have set the right course. The upfront expenditures on the coming years will ensure the long-term future of our company and the Czech Republic as an Automotive location."

Skoda Auto CFO Klaus-Dieter Schürmann added: "Thanks to our active price and sales management as well as consistent cost management, Skoda Auto is a successful and sustainably profitable company even in turbulent waters. In 2019, we expect stronger headwinds, especially in some key markets. To counteract these negative influences actively and directly, Skoda launched an additional Performance programme in the first half of 2018, which, in its full effect, will bring annual savings of EUR500m from 2020 onwards. At the same time, we will continue to electrify our model range in the coming years, invest in new mobility solutions and further internationalise our company. This is how we are making Skoda fit for the future."

Skoda Auto says it has invested more than EUR500m directly in its Czech plants in 2018, for example, constructing a new paint shop at the headquarters in Mladá Boleslav and more powerful data centres. The car manufacturer has also launched the most comprehensive investment programme in the company's history. Over the next four years, EUR2bn will be spent on e-mobility and new mobility services alone. With the launch of electric mobility, 2019 marks an important milestone in the company's 124-year history. By the end of 2022, the car manufacturer will have introduced over 30 new models, more than ten of which will be partially or fully electric, the company says.

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