You know your car by heart, but there was a long journey from its initial conception to your first encounter. Here’s the whole story.
Your car was already full of wisdom when it rolled off the assembly line. Through a coherent and enduring process, years of experience from its predecessors and newly acquired design and engineering knowledge were progressively instilled into it. It began with one elaborate sketch.
When a company decides it’s time for a new model, it first examines the needs and expectations of existing and potential customers. Then, it decides what kind of car it should make – if it should be a small family car, an SUV, a sports car, etc.
Right after the research and development department sets the proportions and technical properties of the new vehicle, the designers are called in. They have to connect emotionally with the target audience and sketch the first lines of what the new car could look like.
Usually, it is through a creative contest between company designers that the future look of the interior and exterior of the car is chosen. The task is extremely difficult. Not only must designers perfectly understand the customer, they must also predict what the world will consider of value in the distant future – up to three years could pass until their vision actually reaches production lines. In this competition amongst equals, four to six concepts are initially selected for further development. Then, designers work on the details and small-scale models of the future car are made and evaluated until one vision wins. It's all an intensive, top-secret process.
In parallel with the development of the design, technicians already set the placement of all the car components. Their work and the work of interior and exterior designers is then transposed and combined in computer-based design programs.
This way, eventual changes in design and their impact on the aerodynamics, comfort and safety of the vehicle can be examined and elaborated on in a matter of clicks.
Although designers and engineers can actually visualize the concept of the car in 3D with the help of computer design programming software, the concept model is also made in a full-size clay rendering.
Only this way can the observers of the silhouette of the future car most accurately see how light will reflect on its surface and easily enhance imperfections.
Once the clay models have been tested, including for aerodynamics and ergonomics, the final design is confirmed. Engineers then scan the clay models to obtain computer graphics that will serve in the production of the new car’s parts. At this stage, physical prototypes of the car are produced and thoroughly tested. By exposing them to extreme weather and road conditions, the manufacturer ensures the future car will be durable and in line with customers’ needs and expectations.
Usually, right before production, the engineers tend to make some small, final adjustments. While hardly noticeable, these modifications enable smoother
and more cost-effective production of the car. Since the first sketch was made, a demanding three to five years have passed.
1. They have to meet the expectations of the public
When a car’s looks are radical, taking it to production poses too much of a financial risk to the car maker. Therefore, the design needs to be adapted so that it meets the expectations of as wide an audience as possible. But, even if changes to design are made, maintaining the emotional appeal of the car is crucial.
From VisionS to KODIAQ
2. They have to meet industry standards
No matter how good a car is, 80 percent of the time it will not sell if it doesn’t look good. Nevertheless, even when feedback on the looks of a concept car is great, the manufacturer must still question whether its solution as a whole is actually functioning. It could be that the roof of the car is too low, the field of vision too impaired, or the car may not be aerodynamic enough… Those and similar challenges need solutions and these often lead to a change in the design.
From MissionL to RAPID
3. They must be made to last
A design that you are in love with now could actually not age all that well. Usually, a new model has to be attractive for as long as three to seven years – it is only then that a new version of the model will replace it. Therefore, a lot of effort is put into achieving timeless aesthetics, while still maintaining the emotionality of the car. Achieving this goal could bring about some compromise.
From VisionD to RAPID SPACEBACK
4. They must be affordable
In conceptual studies, the costs of making a certain type of car are not really considered. Room is left for imagination to take its course unrestrained. But when it comes to manufacturing a car for actual customers, their incomes have to be taken into consideration as well. Thus, changes in the design are often made in order to lower the cost of production and, consequently, its price for the consumer. This way, the quality of the build is left uncompromised, while the car becomes available to as many car-lovers as possible. It’s a win-win.
From VisionC to SUPERB
JOZEF KABAŇ EXPLAINS
Inspiration can come from anywhere, and a muse can pay a visit at any
time – while admiring art, cycling the hills, wandering city streets or, well, even sipping from a mesmerizing glass of Bohemian crystal.
“Yes. We are going back to our roots, if you will.”
Tradition is an important building block for the future. That’s why designers immerse themselves in brand heritage, soaking up the forms of glorious past designs…
Walking the extra mile
“One must look beyond the rather narrow scope of car manufacturing, such as to architecture. But inspiration springs from many sources, perhaps it’s an urban or rural landscape or a morning stroll.”
Always on full alert
“Our eyes are always our scouts, forever looking about for something new – be it a bread roll, a piece of furniture, a person or a car.”
Ideas may spring from sources unknown even to the designers themselves. Essential is that they must always be attentive observers.
Keep it crystal clear
“If someone would ask me to describe ŠKODA design in one word, I would say ‘crystalline’.”
Bohemian crystal is what most inspired the looks of the new models. Keeping their design true to the brand legacy and its Czech roots ensures that ŠKODA models perfectly combine function and style.
Do you want to read more about ŠKODA concept cars? Click here!
The comprehensively upgraded ŠKODA OCTAVIA celebrated its world premiere on Tuesday evening, 10 January 2017, at the Semperdepot ateliers of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. Watch a video of the premiere…