ŠKODA is adapting its model range to the needs of its customers worldwide. This was also the case in 1966 with the TREKKA, in whose development ŠKODA played a decisive role. The early forerunner of today’s ŠKODA SUV models was based on the OCTAVIA SUPER and was produced in New Zealand.
As early as the period between 1930 and the 1960s, ŠKODA’s modern series-production vehicles demonstrated their outstanding off-road capabilities time and again, even under demanding conditions. They benefitted from their torsionally rigid chassis with central tubular frame, independent wheel suspension on the front and rear axles and favourable gear ratios. This proved sufficient to be able to travel safely on demanding terrain even with rear-wheel drive.
The ŠKODA OCTAVIA, built from 1959 onwards, also won over many customers in several dozen countries with its high utility value. For logistical, tax and customs reasons, it was delivered to many markets as a so-called CKD (completely knocked down) kit and reassembled locally. This was also the case in New Zealand, where Motor Industries International was responsible for the assembly. The local ŠKODA general importer, based in Otahuhu near Auckland City, had the idea of developing a vehicle that would be both inexpensive and practical and would be suitable primarily for farmers, artisans and other businesses.
ŠKODA heard this wish from afar and in 1965 sent the experienced designer and technician Josef Velebný from Mladá Boleslav to New Zealand. The former head of body development teamed up with local designer George Taylor, and together they designed the body for a robust all-rounder based on the OCTAVIA SUPER. This marked the birth of the TREKKA, which from then on was built in Otahuhu primarily for local customers. It was the first automobile ever to be developed and manufactured in the Pacific island state. It was offered at the exceptionally attractive price of 899 New Zealand dollars, was made to order, and there were no waiting periods for delivery.
The shorter wheelbase compared to the OCTAVIA SUPER further improved the TREKKA’s off-road characteristics. For an additional charge, a differential lock for the driven rear wheels was also available. The basic model was 3.55 metres long, 1.60 metres wide and, depending on the three-door body version, up to 2.04 metres tall. There were between two and eight seats on board, and the TREKKA had either a tin or folding roof. A removable top made of glass fibre reinforced plastic was also available. Production started in 1966, one year later the 750th customer received their TREKKA, and in January 1968 the 1,000th TREKKA was built in Otahuhu.
It was not until 1972 that the career of the all-rounder, which was a much cheaper and more economical alternative to other off-road vehicles with four-wheel drive, came to an end after almost 3,000 units had been produced. The model also found buyers on the Fiji Islands, in Australia and other countries in Oceania, while licensed production started in Pakistan and Vietnam. The few surviving units have long enjoyed cult status in New Zealand. A 1969 TREKKA is now part of a private Czech collection, and another can be seen at the ŠKODA Museum.
ŠKODA later drew on the experience gained with the TREKKA for other models that were tailor-made to specific customer requirements in other countries, such as the Pakistani SKOPAK and the ŠKODA 1202 KAMYONETLERI for the Turkish market. Today, the Czech company uses this expertise for its activities in important markets such as India and China. ŠKODA exclusively offers the SUV coupés KAMIQ GT and KODIAQ GT in China, its largest single market. The wishes of Indian customers, in turn, are met by other models, which in future will be based on the specially developed MQB-A0-IN platform. ŠKODA presented a preview of a compact family SUV at the New Delhi motor show in February this year with VISION IN.