The designers gradually refine the car’s looks, whether it’s the bodywork or the interior and all sorts of details. Clay models are created, which also have to get the seal of approval from the company management. Around this time, the project manager keeps a closer eye on deadlines and budgets, as well as contracting suppliers for some specific parts and solutions, for example.
“It’s almost never definitive: something is always being adjusted,” laughs Martin Porteš when asked what happens when the future design is basically settled. In any case, the next stage is the actual building of the car. Work simultaneously continues on fine-tuning many of the details, so the actual design phase and the search for specific solutions actually take longer than the physical construction of the car. “We can’t simply wait until we’ve got everything finished, there’s not enough time for that,” explains Porteš. Especially at the start of construction, the design team is assisted by the prototype building team, which otherwise prepares prototype cars for series production. “They help us modify and prepare the platform, implement basic functions and so on,” Porteš says.
ŠKODA VISION 7S concept car
At the same time as the platform is being prepared, the body parts are being made, and with that foundation ready, the car building begins. “The base is a tubular frame on which the body parts are mounted,” Porteš explains. Along with the car’s skeleton, the engineers are also working on the installation of the wiring. “In the VISION 7S we have a lot of things that move, light up and do stuff, which necessitated an extreme amount of wiring,” says Porteš, describing the challenging aspects of building the prototype. The VISION 7S has a number of special features in this respect. For example, it has what’s known as steer-by-wire – the steering wheel is not rigidly connected to the wheels and the instructions to the wheels are conveyed digitally.
Other unique features are the dashboard and pedals, which recede about 10 centimetres further away from the occupants when switching from Drive to Relax mode. This transition also involves the rotation of the on-board system’s large touchscreen display. “Here, we spent a long time looking for a technical solution that would allow this rotation, while being sufficiently robust and at the same time allowing us to work with minimal panel thickness and thin bezels,” explains Porteš. Finding a solution for the “dance” performed by the seats when the car’s mode is changed was not easy either, he says: the front seats rotate towards the centre and fold down slightly, while the rear seats also fold back slightly. In a normal car this might not have been so difficult, but in a concept where the seats with the centre console appear to float in space, it was a really tough nut to crack.
Interior in Relax mode