8 Steps to a New Concept Car

8 Steps to a New Concept Car


The VISION E had its premiere in Shanghai, and its design has already received loads of positive response. In this connection, one may ask how such design solutions, both interior and exterior, are born?

20. 4. 2017

The Design Department at ŠKODA employs creative professionals of over twenty nationalities that are supported by and cooperate with other departments, primarily in Technological Development and Production. In eight key steps, from the first sketch to the final outcome, the text below describes the process of designing a new car.




At the beginning of each concept car project, the designers think about the core philosophy and values they wish to express and convey. “We need to identify the basic character we want to imprint to the new vehicle, such as dynamic, sporty, how much emphasis we are going to place on its roominess, functionality, etc. The very first design sketches are just rough drafts, and the main tools we use in these early stages are pencils and paper and also markers to highlight some of the contours,” says designer Peter Olah, describing the initial stage of defining the showcar‘s future face. This stage is about clarifying and sorting things, and it‘s dominated by emotions. Rough drafts on paper are followed by more detailed sketches made on digital tablets, i.e. the first

drawings to reveal the car‘s overall dimensions and surfaces. These are handed over to the Chief Designer and the Board. This stage is followed by detailed views and cross sections and final drawings to be used as input data by 3D modellers.




The designers‘ visions and design data are put together in what is known as the Digital Design Model. “Our ambition is to harmonize all expectations around aesthetics, ergonomics and functionality with what is technically producible,“ says digital modelling specialist Petr Havlíček. The output, a 3D model, is then modified on PC, details are added gradually and everything is discussed by a team of designers

and engineers. The next step is to produce a clay model while continuing to test the functionality of all parts and making further adaptations and modifications. All parts and components that form the final Digital Design Model are designed to the latest detail – if necessary, individual parts are then further adapted on PC. The final data produced this way are then used in manufacturing the real car.



The first sketches and computer models are followed by a 1:1 clay model. One of the traditional design processes, clay modelling provides designers with a highly realistic view of the future car. The clay is heated in a furnace to 55 - 60 °C to soften. The heated, soft clay is then applied (a layer approximately 6 cm thick) onto a metal chassis fitted with a skeleton and struts. Modellers and designers create the required shape – on small surfaces the clay

starts hardening after about 15 minutes. The clay layer is then worked, using special tools. The interior modelling method is similar, except that the clay layer is a little thinner. By the way, the modelling clay is very heavy – the “clay VISION E” weighs about 2.5 tonnes. The surface of the clay model is then covered with special foils to make all shapes stand out and to make the car look glossy. The final clay model then gets a coat of car paint.




Karl Neuhold 
Chief Exterior Designer

“We continuously aim to improve our design language, and we see every new project as a challenge and also an opportunity to take the strong character of our cars to a new level. One of the keys to success is, no doubt, our international team made up of people of over 20 nationalities.“

The closer the exterior designers get to the final shape, the more important it is for them to get the best possible idea as to how the car will work with individual details in place and in various environments and conditions. With series production cars in particular, they need to see the shapes in daylight. “Our ambition is to produce cars that are not just lovely at first sight, but are also modern and timeless,“ says designer Dalibor Pantůček, commenting on the exterior look of the VISION E. “That‘s why all lines are pure, simple and perfect in terms of proportions.”

Obviously, the main difference between electric cars and cars with combustion engines lies on the technology side, and the exterior look of the VISION E is only “electricity-specific” in that the air cooler grille (that the electric motor can do without) is covered. On the other hand, the car bears some of the typical ŠKODA features, including the boldly shaped bonnet with a striking 3D logo, the C-shaped taillights, etc.



The interior model takes the form of a 1:1 sit-in box. The designers need to sit into the interior to try everything out and thus ensure that all items work in terms of both aesthetic and ergonomic aspects. The model production method is identical with that used for the exterior model, except that the interior modelling process involves a more extensive use of 3D printing and prototype components.

The ambition is to make the impression as near as possible to the future reality. Parallel to the clay model, the team further modifies the key concept data and tests other options. The clay interior model is covered with special foils to imitate the respective surfaces, the outcome being very near the real car.


Norbert Weber 
Chief Interior Designer

“We are in everyday contact with state-of-the-art technologies, whether individual tools and devices that help us work even more efficiently or materials and components using which we can improve the entire interior concept in terms of both aesthetic and functional aspects.“



The lighting and glass items are the “jewels” in any car, and that is particularly true of the VISION E – the designers cooperated with Lasvit, a Czech crystal glass specialist. The company supplied a large number of glass details for both the exterior and the interior, including for the lighting system. Compared to ŠKODA‘s previous concept cars, the VISION E features an innovative way of linking

the lights all across the front mask, including with a backlit element under the bonnet edge. “The lighting design underscores the showcar‘s character while presenting our vision for future models. The luminous signature refers to new technologies. Glass and light highlight the impressive combination of art and technology,” says Petr Nevřela, explaining the lighting design rationale.



Each member of Color & Trim, the team responsible for seat materials, interior details, body colours, etc. is responsible for a particular area, i.e. leather, textile, interior colours, exterior paints, decorative strips … materials and colours are then harmonized through computer visualizations. Hands-on demos take pace in small boxes (vehicle sections) where the respective components can be modified.

“Visualizations are highly important. With virtual reality tools in place, we can sit into the car to see how all the passenger-compartment materials and colour combinations that we‘ve designed go together. All these aspects contribute to the overall (good) result,“ says Andrea Jensen, Head of the Color & Trim Department.



Compared to series production vehicles, the showcar development process is always faster. “As a purely electric car, the VISION E is a breakthrough product for which we could not use any of the existing platforms. We started from scratch in all respects, including the body, the door opening system and the tailgate opening system with electrically controlled struts,“ says Project Coordinator Daniel Edr, mentioning some of the concept car project specifics. Also unique are the interior roominess, the smooth veneer floor and the frameless side doors (with the rear ones opening against the direction of the car‘s movement). With no traditional B-pillar

in place, the car looks enormously comfortable when climbed into. Materials and documents for key expert meetings and Board meetings are produced continuously during the showcar development process. “My responsibility is to prepare the concept and then harmonize all inputs contributed by the respective Design teams,“ says Daniel Edr. Tens of people have put in loads of hard work, and at this stage their work is completed. Their vision of ŠKODA‘s future has been materialized in this showcar, and the first responses from the public are positive. Meanwhile, the Design Department is already working on other models ….

Do you want to know even more about ŠKODA VISION E? Click here!