A Snowman in Two Colours

A Snowman in Two Colours

Innovation Design

The stage lights up to show a snowman and, unexpectedly, a concept ŠKODA SUV – the start of the YETI concept presentation at the 2005 Geneva Motor Show was impressive. Today this revolutionary design study is on display at the ŠKODA MUSEUM Depository in Mladá Boleslav. What are the origins of this car, the predecessor of today’s KODIAQ, KAROQ and KAMIQ SUVs?

29. 8. 2019

Let’s go back to the ŠKODA stand at the Geneva Motor Show in 2005. Thomas Ingenlath, the then chief designer, started the presentation wearing a pair of robust mountaineering boots that might be useful on an Abominable Snowman expedition in the Himalayas, but are impractical for everyday use. So he immediately slipped into some lightweight trekking boots, and he did so in the boot – on the highly practical fold-out part of the tailgate.

“No need to take all this weight with you if you’re not off to the Himalayas,” he commented, hinting at what ŠKODA actually wanted to say through its latest concept car. Instead of a suit, he was wearing a pair of canvas trousers and a T-shirt, showing that the YETI was meant as a car for active people, a car that was practical both in city traffic and in rough outdoor conditions, but also a car that was free of the aggressive image of big off-roads.

The four-metre show car was a follow-up to the ROOMSTER, a previous concept. The A pillar was painted black to form a visually integrated “strip” with the windscreen and the side windows. The windscreen was sloped very moderately for the time, and the rear part was “cut off” sharply. The reasons for this solution were practical – the interior did not warm up excessively in hot weather, and the high-positioned roof offered generous space in the passenger compartment.

yeti-skoda-photo-exterior-side-view

Moreover, the car came with some interesting technical solutions. The windscreen was elongated, integrated into the middle of the roof and fitted with only one wiper, which was hidden in the right front pillar when not in use. The tailgate consisted of two parts: the top part opened upwards, the bottom downwards. The bottom pop-down part was very special in that it was in fact a dual lid. When the outer part was folded down, the interior remained closed thanks to the inside lid. The folded-down part could be used as a bench to sit on or fitted with a carrier for two bikes or a special aluminium box.

skoda-design-technology-holder

skoda-yeti-bike-design-technology

The interior screamed “outdoor”. For example, a variety of features were controlled with buttons and levers so the driver could use them comfortably even when wearing gloves. The centre console featured a cooled water container with two removable hoses (a bit like the popular system used by cyclists) and a navigation system that was also removable so it could be used as a portable GPS device.

yeti-skoda-interior-photo-shoot-detail

Shortly after crawling out of the “permafrost” in Geneva, the YETI went on to shake its roof in Frankfurt, where it was showcased as an unconventional pick-up truck. The car’s colour changed, too – the original icy blue was replaced with bright orange. The unique combination of a removable hardtop part of the roof and a retracting canvas part above the rear seats offered a variety of open-air options: since each of the two parts was independent, the driver and front-seat passenger could open the roof right above them or stay in the shade by converting the car into an open-rear pick-up. Users could also fold down both rear seats to create a flat surface similar to that seen in conventional pick-up trucks.

skoda-yeti-pickup-side

The hardtop above the front seats was a white-painted piece anchored into the top of the windscreen frame and the protective arches of the B-pillars. When released, the outer ends could be folded down on to the middle piece and the whole roof easily put into a pecial compartment at the bottom of the boot. The canvas part of the roof could either be wound back or removed completely. The whole system was co-developed with Karmann, the well-known German company.

skoda-yeti-pickup-diagonal

When the tailgate was folded down, the gap the user would normally end up with was automatically covered with a pecial floor component to create a flat surface more than two metres long. The switch to control the rear wall was hidden in the letter “O” of the ŠKODA sign on the tail.

The response to the YETI was massive. The German magazine Auto Strassenverkehr came up with an article headed “Our editorial team says: launch it!”, but it was not just the media – consumers liked the two concept cars as well. “ŠKODA did not initially plan to take any kind of SUV as far as mass production, because at that time this category was not as popular as it is today,” says Jiří Hadaščok, an exterior designer at ŠKODA who worked on the clay models of the two concept YETIs. “It was not until the company saw this highly positive response that it moved forward with the idea and launched series production in Kvasiny in 2009.”

Jiri-Hadascok_vyrez
Jiří Hadaščok
exterior designer at ŠKODA

At that point, however, the team of developers was still facing a long list of challenges. The YETI concept was built on the FABIA chassis, which meant a 4×4 system would be out of the question. On the other hand, quite a few design solutions were used not only in the mass-produced YETI (primarily the distinctly round fog lights immersed into the headlamps), but also in other ŠKODAs. “The square wheel wells, for example, are still one of the features used across all ŠKODA SUVs,” says Jiří Hadaščok.

yeti-skoda-exterior-front-photo-shoot

“The second YETI concept featured the ŠKODA name in letters on the tailgate instead of a logo, a solution that you can now see on our latest models. At that time, however, the name was embossed on the bodywork, which was not really technically feasible for mass production,” explains Jiří Hadaščok.

yeti-skoda-exterior-photo-shoot

The YETI was an important model in its time, as it triggered today’s boom in ŠKODA SUVs, and the two concept cars that started this success story are now publicly displayed at the ŠKODA MUSEUM Depository in Mladá Boleslav.

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