Measuring boot space: a process a bit like Tetris

Measuring boot space: a process a bit like Tetris

ŠKODA WORLD

Luggage compartment space is still measured manually with the help of standardised blocks. People are better at performing this task than computers. See for yourself.

15. 12. 2020

The ŠKODA cars are famed for their generous luggage space, with the Czech carmaker’s various models coming top of their class in this regard. The new all-electric ŠKODA ENYAQ iV SUV is no exception. But how is boot space actually measured? Take a look.

Technicians arrange in the luggage compartment standardised 1-litre green blocks that measure 20 × 10 × 5 centimetres. Arranging the blocks is governed by a technical standard (ISO3832, if you must know). Although this may sound pretty simple, the process has its pitfalls. “What’s important is that the volume we arrive at with the blocks and then state in the vehicle’s technical specifications must be repeatable at any time,” says Ladislav Kraus, who is responsible for luggage compartment development, explaining the fundamental principle. Theoretically, then, you should be able to perform the process yourself and come up with the same figure as the technicians.

KrausLadislav Kraus
Head of luggage compartment development

But you’d have to comply with the given rules, just like the ŠKODA technicians do. For example, you’re not allowed to force the blocks in, though there is some leeway: after all, carpets and upholstery allow for a little give. The rules also dictate how far the blocks can go, depending on the version of the technical standard – you can measure the volume up to the edge of the rear seat backrests or up to the parcel rack, which may result in large differences in different models. But the blocks must on no account raise the height of the parcel shelf.

Of course, the technicians are hugely experienced in this measurement process and know how to make the most of every suitable space. As a result, they have so far always managed to arrive at a slightly better volume result than computer simulations. This “fight” for extra litres in the boot begins before they start arranging the blocks in the boot, though.

Computer goes first

Luggage compartment volume is part of the brief for car development: obviously, the developers don’t simply leave the resulting boot space to chance. The luggage compartment has to satisfy more than just practicality requirements: structural resilience is also crucial. The compartment is therefore meticulously prepared, including the strength of its components. “The initial design work is done on a computer, including a simulation of the volume measurement. The programme can do this automatically using standardised blocks – virtual ones, this time – or the computer operator can do it,” Kraus explains.

In real-life measurement, the technicians’ experience usually enables them to arrive at a better result than the computer, with the average improvement being around 5 litres.

Paradoxically, though, this is a tough job for a computer. “It can easily take a whole weekend to calculate. That’s because it looks for the best possible arrangement. If a block doesn't fit, the programme tries to work out how far it has to backtrack to make optimal use of the space," adds Peter Hancko, one of the luggage compartment constructors at ŠKODA. Arranging blocks in a 3D modelling programme will take someone about one working day. Arranging physical blocks is a question of a few hours, depending on the size of the compartment. “In real-life measurement, the technicians’ experience usually enables them to arrive at a better result than the computer, with the average improvement being around 5 litres,” says Hancko.

Hancko2Peter Hancko
Luggage compartment constructor

Fair measurement

The technicians are genuinely capitalising on their experience, not using “tricks”, even though the technical standard does permit some finessing. “It is permitted to remove everything from the luggage compartment that isn’t bolted down, for example. But we don’t go that far – we want the volume to be realistic and consistent with the actual usable space,” Kraus points out. Even so, the space beneath the luggage compartment floor is included in the measurement, and when the measurement is being done with the rear seats folded down the space beneath the folded rests is counted. The technical standard allows this provided that this space can be reached after the doors are opened – it is defined as an additional luggage space.

Measuring with the seats folded down the front seats need to be put in the right position. Dummies are used to put the seat in a position defined for an average person by the technical standard.

Measuring with the seats folded down is a relatively complicated task. The front seats need to be put in the right position as well, for example. “Dummies are used to put the seat in a position defined for an average person by the technical standard. We then place a polycarbonate partition behind the seat to firmly delimit the space we can arrange the blocks in. This stops the blocks from slipping between the seats,” Hancko explains. Various other storage spaces located behind the car’s front seats are also included in the total volume with folded down seats: these include compartments in the doors, by the mudguards and so on.

That’s because the technical standard dictates that the biggest measured luggage compartment volume is stated, and various extra features can naturally reduce this volume.