Production of the new Skoda Octavia has started in Mladá Boleslav, in the Czech Republic, the company has announced.
The third generation of Skoda's vital model and best selling car will be available from late January next year.
Skoda CEO, Winfried Vahland said: "The Octavia is the heart of Skoda brand. Our people have employed competence and passion to create the best Octavia ever.
"This car is a class of its own in every respect. It is a great moment to give the starting shot for the third generation here at our main plant today."
The company added that the Octavia is central to its growth strategy and it hopes the new version will "continue its predecessors' success story and further strengthen the position of Skoda on the international markets".
Skoda has recently completed an ambitious modernisation and expansion project at its main production plant in Mladá Boleslav, in preparation for the new Octavia.
Capacity on the plant's Octavia/Rapid production line has been increased by 50% and the factory can now produce 1,200 cars per day, compared to 800 before the modernisation work.
As well as increasing capacity at the plant Skoda has fitted a new body shop, a fully automated interior painting line and a state-of-the-art press line.
Alongside the Octavia and the Rapid, the company also manufactures the Skoda Fabia at the Mladá Boleslav plant.
Michael Oeljeklaus, Skoda board member for production and logistics, said the start of Octavia production, after that of the Skoda Rapid in August, was the second major production ramp-up within a short time at the company's main plant.
Skoda also announced that it plans to launch a new or revised model every half a year between now and 2015.
The company is hoping this will improve its current growth course and increase the number of cars it sells worldwide every year to at least 1.5 million by 2018.
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