This site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services, to personalize ads and to analyze traffic. Information about your use of this site is shared with Google. By using this site, you agree to its use of cookies. Accept
All press releases
Show news Hide news

Can one keep a promise for more than 100 years? “ŠKODA can. ‘Only the best is good enough for our customers!’ This is the promise that was made by our founding fathers Václav Klement and Václav Laurin,” says Jiří Dytrych, Projectleader whole vehicle – Productline Compact. And with a friendly smile he adds, “To keep getting better is therefore in ŠKODA’s DNA.”

“Intensive testing is a tradition we have stuck with to this day. Over the decades, this has also led to the development of the ambitious aspiration to be the benchmark of all things in our segment – with regards to functionality and high-quality workmanship for example,” says Dytrych. He adds that the Czech tradition of craftsmanship and engineering also helps to achieve this goal.

Model

KODIAQ

Discover new grounds: With a length of 4.70 m, up to seven seats and the largest boot within its class, the ŠKODA KODIAQ is the Czech car manufacturer’s first large SUV. It is 4,697 mm long, 1,882 mm wide and 1,676 mm tall (including roof rails). The KODIAQ is based on Volkswagen Group’s modular transverse matrix (MQB) in which strict lightweight construction plays an important role.

Kodiaq

The will
to improve
is part of ŠKODA’s DNA. That’s why we test so intensively – virtually as well as physically.

Jiří Dytrych, Projectleader whole vehicle – Productline Compact

“Marry in haste, repent at leisure: this applies to the car industry as well,” says Dytrych. After all, a car manufacturer would like to have a long-term marriage with the customer, rather than a brief fling. And that’s exactly why a ŠKODA has to keep to what it promises, says Dytrych. How can you be sure of this? “Parts and products are thoroughly tested during all stages of the product development process, from the designer’s first line, up to the start of production.”

The Technical Development department, in collaboration with Quality Control, is responsible for examinations and tests. “No car will go to the customers until the pre-production models have successfully passed all the tests,” Dytrych. Terms such as ‘quality’ and ‘success’ are of course very subjective and each car manufacturer sets the bar for ‘test successfully completed’ at a different level – whilst complying with legal limits and requirements. Dytrych uses an example from the world of sports to explain this point, “If I tell myself, I will run 100 metres in 20 seconds, I can of course say afterwards: Great, I did it! But at ŠKODA, our target is 10 seconds. With regards to our quality, we are at the forefront internationally in the SUV segment.”  

This target was of course also applied to the latest ŠKODA newcomer, the KODIAQ. As it is an SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle), testing it thoroughly was something special. “Yes, we have many years of experience in testing SUVs; the YETI has been available since 2009. But the KODIAQ enters another dimension, even when it comes to testing,” explains Dytrych. Bigger wheels, more ground clearance, new measurements – the test stands had to be adjusted to reflect this. And then Dytrych adds with another smile, “The team was very happy to take the car to its limits during the test drives all over the world and on the test stands.” 

WHAT DOES A ŠKODA HAVE TO ENDURE BEFORE GOING IN PRODUCTION? HERE ARE THE FIVE most important test scenarios.

#1 DIGITAL AND CLEVERLY CALCULATED: VIRTUAL DEVELOPMENT

There's a huge crash - but nobody has to sweep up afterwards! Computer-aided accident simulations are increasingly being used to complement conventional crash tests at ŠKODA. The ultimate goal: greater safety for all occupants.
There's a huge crash - but nobody has to sweep up afterwards! Computer-aided accident simulations are increasingly being used to complement conventional crash tests at ŠKODA. The ultimate goal: greater safety for all occupants.

Successful virtual development requires close team cooperation – across
the widest range of departments. And all of this would not be possible without experienced and passionate colleagues
in every department.

Dr Tomáš Kubr, Head of Functionality Development, Computations, Series Production Care

Every beginning is virtual: long before real prototypes are built from steel and sheet metal in the prototyping phase, simulations are run during the concept phase using digital prototypes. “The engineers at ŠKODA calculate, for example, the stiffness of the bodywork, the acoustic comfort of the complete car or the vehicle’s crash behaviour in various accident scenarios and many more load cases,” says Dytrych.

Running simulations, i.e. developing virtually, is important and necessary, because the demands on the cars – for example with regards to comfort, safety and efficiency – have increased considerably in recent years.

From the early development stages up to being ready for production, ŠKODA can realistically test parts and structures during virtual drives and tests – from components to the complete vehicle

“The demands on organisation and IT are massive, because the quantity of information and data and their complexity is so great. The ‘pure’ computing power required is also immense: if, for example, all the crash simulations we have run on the ŠKODA KODIAQ were processed by a bog-standard PC, they would take more than 500 years to complete,” explains Dr Tomáš Kubr, Head of Functionality Development, Computations, Series Production Care.

Today, models that are only tested virtually are no longer a future vision at ŠKODA. Dytrych, “We are pushing development without using prototypes at ŠKODA. We have gained valuable experience working on the new SUPERB; individual derivatives of the COMBI for example were only tested virtually.”  

Even in engine development – a very complex and specific field – a lot is initially simulated on the computer. Prototypes of the powertrains are only built after this and are then tested on various test stands, before finally being subject to on-the-road tests with test cars.

#2 THE WEATHER TODAY? EXTREME! A VISIT TO THE CLIMATE CHAMBER

Heat lamps on, temperature to the max: The ŠKODA KODIAQ in the blazing heat of a climate test stand. The claim: Even at extreme temperatures, the technology must function reliably - throughout the lifetime of the car.
Heat lamps on, temperature to the max: The ŠKODA KODIAQ in the blazing heat of a climate test stand. The claim: Even at extreme temperatures, the technology must function reliably - throughout the lifetime of the car.

Wrap up warm! The climate chambers on the ŠKODA factory site in Mladá Boleslav and at many other Group locations are some of the many high-tech test stands. Here, not only entire prototypes, but also parts and components are cooled down to minus 40 degrees Celsius. “The climate chambers are a good example of the great efforts we are making. Here it is about finding out how materials behave: by how much do they expand in heat, by how much do they contract when it is cold. In total, ŠKODA carries out thousands of hours of tests in the climate chamber,” explains Petr Kraus, Head of Car Safety. 

And it is not just individual parts are thoroughly tested in the chambers: the engineers pay particular attention to components that consist of several parts. “When several individual parts are connected, it is particularly intriguing. After all, every material behaves differently in heat or cold and the connection between the parts must be solid and work – even in the case of an accident and in any temperature,” explains Petr Kraus. In this case, the experts at the ice-cold test stand speak of ‘warping’ or ‘expansion’. The worst case scenario: if the parts warp too much, the connection becomes loose. Or the gap dimensions – the distance between two parts – are no longer correct, which not only comes across as unharmonious – it can also be dangerous. 

The extreme tests in the climate test stands also ensure safety for driver and passengers, as restraint systems, airbags and safety belts are also tested in freezing conditions and blistering heat. “The airbag module itself and also its environment – dashboard, steering wheel or seats for example – have to be safe and fully functional during these highly dynamic tests,” says Petr Kraus. Of course: the functionality of other moveable parts is also tested. After all, door locks, electric windows and other electric devices should also work properly between minus 40 and plus 80 degrees Celsius, and whether it’s 5 per cent or 95 per cent humidity in the interior. Whatever they are testing in the cold scenario, “At the climate test stand, you should always be wrapped up warm, even in summer,” jokesí Dytrych. “Who would like to catch a cold when you have beautiful summer weather!?” 

There is another test stand at ŠKODA in Mladá Boleslav where you should not be weather-sensitive, although it is a wet rather than a cold one: “We run the most diverse programmes in our sprinkler facility, from drizzle to heavy rain,” explains Dytrych. What do they test here? If water gets through doors and sliding roofs into the car, if all the seals are tight. And of course, a ŠKODA has to be waterproof even in unusual positions, for example if one wheel is on the pavement, therefore distributing the stress on the body unevenly. 

#3 TEST THE BEST: REAL TEST DRIVES

His territory is the street - and that's where the pre-production models of the ŠKODA KODIAQ were intensively tested and finely tuned. The prototypes were disguised on the road, for example here in Norway in the summer of 2016.
His territory is the street - and that's where the pre-production models of the ŠKODA KODIAQ were intensively tested and finely tuned. The prototypes were disguised on the road, for example here in Norway in the summer of 2016.

Away they go onto the road – and often off it as well. Even if many driving situations are simulated on the computer in the early development stages, ŠKODA won’t let any model onto the market without rigorous real-life tests. “At ŠKODA we test the vehicles in normal and also in extreme climatic conditions. The vehicles have to function properly in extreme cold, meaning even below minus 30 degrees Celsius, and also in extreme heat, that is above 40 degrees Celsius,” explains Vladimír Banýr, Head of Complete Vehicle Testing. “Our aspiration is: everything in the car has to work perfectly. And at any time: in sunshine, rain, snow, on slippery and icy roads, in countries whose roads are dusty tracks, often also in rough terrain – and of course on any normal road.” 

In order to test everything properly, the tests are run all over the world. “We are looking for extreme conditions and visit every continent. Where we are going exactly is of course, usually a secret,” explains Vladimír Banýr and smiles. This was also the case with the KODIAQ: “During the test drives with our latest SUV, we particularly focused on the new assistance systems, ride and acoustic comfort and its off-road capabilities.” Dytrych, adds, “We have driven far more than 2 million kilometres with the KODIAQ prototypes.” 

Management matters: Board Chairman Bernhard Maier paid close attention to the final calibration drives. Maier:
Management matters: Board Chairman Bernhard Maier paid close attention to the final calibration drives. Maier: "The ŠKODA KODIAQ is at the forefront of ŠKODA's extensive SUV campaign."
Christian Strube, ŠKODA Board Member for Technical Development: “The ŠKODA KODIAQ offers all of our brand’s strengths: well-thought-out functionality, superior interior space and excellent value for money.”
Christian Strube, ŠKODA Board Member for Technical Development: “The ŠKODA KODIAQ offers all of our brand’s strengths: well-thought-out functionality, superior interior space and excellent value for money.”

The tests are not just a challenge for the material but also for the team accompanying the tests. “It’s a tough job. The test engineers who go on the international test drives have to be very flexible and are rarely at home,” says Dytrych and adds proudly, “If you want to get to know a tight-knit group which is absolutely passionate about the ŠKODA brand, then it’s them.”

The place where the first real test drives of the ŠKODA KODIAQ took place is not really secret anymore: for decades, all Volkswagen Group brands have sent their latest secret prototypes to the southern edge of the Lüneburg Heath near Ehra-Lessien to do their first rounds. The site is well secured and so vast that even paparazzi who shoot secret models for car magazines have no chance to get decent pictures. Access to the site, which measures approximately 11 million square metres and has 100 kilometres of test track, is by special permission only.

“Even if the ŠKODA KODIAQ is not a pure off-roader: right from the start we have tested its off-road capabilities and improved them,” says Dytrych. “The conditions in Ehra-Lessien are ideal for this, too: inclines have gradients of between and 5 and 32 per cent.” 

Disguised on the road in Norway: In particular, the new assistance systems, the driving and acoustic comfort, as well as the terrain capabilities were examined during the ŠKODA KODIAQ road tests.
Disguised on the road in Norway: In particular, the new assistance systems, the driving and acoustic comfort, as well as the terrain capabilities were examined during the ŠKODA KODIAQ road tests.

#4 THE ACID TEST: HYDROPULS TEST STAND

The toughest test on a car is the so-called endurance test: The tests on the hydro-pulse system usually take 130 hours, which is equivalent to 8000 kilometres in tougher operating conditions or 150,000 kilometres as customers would normally drive.
The toughest test on a car is the so-called endurance test: The tests on the hydro-pulse system usually take 130 hours, which is equivalent to 8000 kilometres in tougher operating conditions or 150,000 kilometres as customers would normally drive.

Shaken, not stirred: “The most spectacular test stand for a prototype is definitely our Hydropuls station,” explains Dytrych. What happens on this test stand? The vehicles are mounted onto a hydraulic system which transfers forces to the body. “This test scenario allows us to collect initial information about the prototype vehicles’ stiffness and strength in the early development phase.”

How does the Hydropuls test stand work exactly? “Our road simulator has 16 channels. This means we can have four different inputs on each wheel: forces in three different directions as well as braking torque,” explains Jan Novák, Head of Durability and Fatigue Tests at ŠKODA. “This way we create stress situations for the entire car – even harder ones than we could produce in reality on the road.”

A variety of test scenarios can be driven. Particularly interesting is the continuous run. “This test normally takes 130 hours which corresponds to 8,000 kilometres of intense operation. You can compare this distance to the wear of 150,000 kilometres of normal driving by a customer,” says Novák. Experts call this test scenario, which takes chassis and body to their limits, the vibration resistance test. 

The load on each individual wheel during this test on the stand is of course not random – real test drives provide the blueprint. “The forces and torques the prototype is exposed to on the road simulator have been recorded before during real test drives; for example, on the very demanding circuit at our Group testing site in Ehra-Lessien,” says Jan Novák. These stresses are then reproduced by the system on the test stand at ŠKODA in Mladá Boleslav.

The 16-channel road simulator is not the only special facility that amazes visitors to the labs at ŠKODA in Mladá Boleslav. The so-called four-stamp facility is also impressive. Jan Novák, “It does not only allow us to test mechanical loads but also to simulate climate conditions whilst driving. It enables us to run tests from minus 40 degrees to plus 80 degrees Celsius.”

#5 OPEN AND CLOSE, OPEN AND CLOSE: FUNCTION TESTS

For days on end and without interruption, the robot opens and closes the car door of the ŠKODA KODIAQ until it is certain that the quality and finish are perfect. All movable components, as well as other thing, are thoroughly tested in function tests.
For days on end and without interruption, the robot opens and closes the car door of the ŠKODA KODIAQ until it is certain that the quality and finish are perfect. All movable components, as well as other thing, are thoroughly tested in function tests.

Should for example a hinge or component break during the test, our engineers have to come up with a solution – and the test starts again from the beginning.

Dr Tomáš Kubr, Head of Functionality Development, Computations, Series Production Care

Does the tailgate open and close without any problems even after several years? And do the doors, the bonnet and the windows? These, the supposedly simplest functions on a car, are tested particularly intensively before the start of production. “It’s good that there are robots,” explains Dytrych. With a smile on his face he then asks, “Or would you like to open and close a door 100,000 times?” No person would want – or be able – to do this, particularly because the robot always does the job using the same forces following a programmed real-life pattern. This makes test results comparable. 

Air outlets, glove compartment, handles, locks, everything that can be moved is thoroughly tested in the ŠKODA function tests. In order to save time, these tests often run parallel and not one after the other. This is visually impressive: the synchronised opening and closing of doors, tailgates and bonnets looks like a perfectly rehearsed ballet. “Despite the parallel operation: this test takes six weeks without any break,” explains Petr Kraus, Head of Car Safety. And if something goes wrong? “Should for example a hinge or component break during the test, our engineers have to come up with a solution – and the test starts again from the beginning.” The ‘masterpiece’ is the continuous run in the climate chamber. The aim: even at minus 40 degrees and plus 80 degrees Celsius, everything has to work properly. “There mustn’t be any miniature cracks or fractures, or rattling and squeaking noises,” says the expert.

Further important steps on the way to series production are tests on the acoustic and the EMC test stand. In particular the latter, testing the electromagnetic compatibility of all components, is becoming more and more important because of the rapidly increasing number of microchips in the car. 

Three months before start of production, the moment has finally come: the testing phase has been completed. The ŠKODA – now almost ‘ready for production’ – can commence its last inspection drive. “During the covered drives, board members and teams of experts have a last opportunity to assess and discuss the result of years of work,” says Dytrych. “That’s the final step before the start of production.”