SEAT uses an elephant's weight of clay to design the all-new Tarraco SUV

  • 65% of SUV customers choose the vehicle based on exterior design
  • 5,000kg of clay and 320 hours to create life-size clay model
  • Renders of interior and exterior boosts true to life representation from 60% to 90% with use of virtual reality
  • Robust, elegant exterior lines are key to SEAT’s SUV designs
  • Latest member of SEAT’s SUV family – the 7-seat Tarraco – benefitted from new design processes and technique

Barcelona-based car maker SEAT used 5,000kg of clay to create the final, life-size model of its biggest ever car, the new 7-seat Tarraco SUV.

The equivalent of a fully-grown male Asian elephant or 60 fully-grown men, the clay model took four model-makers a total of 320 hours to perfect during the final development phase of the car, which was unveiled in September.

Despite rapid advances in virtual reality technology - which allow vehicle designers to see their sketches come to life with 90% realism as opposed to the 60% offered by digital renderings they had to rely on in the past - a clay model is still a key part of the development process and enables designers to fully appreciate the vehicle’s true, real-world dimensions.

SEAT says that 65% of SUV buyers base their purchase decision on exterior styling, making the design element of the Tarraco an important step.

The lines of an SUV are one of their characteristic features: “They’re more aggressive, powerful and imposing,” says Brand Exterior Designer Xavier Villanueva.

The front end is one of the most important parts of the SEAT Tarraco: “The grille is positioned more vertically compared to other kinds of vehicles. This gives our first large SUV a longer bonnet, and raised robust lines,” he adds.

SEAT Design Director Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos’ expert team explored how to get a mixture of paints and ground mica into an elegant colour and studied what selection of fabrics would make the interior of a car look sophisticated.

The interior of an SUV is comparatively larger than other models, providing a new challenge for its designers. These new volumes presented a challenge to the design team: “Customers look for the right balance between comfort, ergonomics and performance… this is another aspect to consider when designing an SUV,” adds Daniel Hervás, Interior Design Project Leader at SEAT. In the specific case of the SEAT Tarraco, adding a floating screen was a challenge for the team.

The Tarraco has been given further personality through its colour palette: “The size, silhouette and target fully determine the colour range of each model. Each segment features its own colours,” comments Jordi Font, Head of SEAT’s Colour & Trim department. The palette of an SUV has to express ‘safety and protection’.

“It requires subdued or metallic shades and, depending on its size, you can play with features such as a two-tone roof or certain trim elements,” adds Font. The colour palette of the SEAT Tarraco includes eight shades “that give it the elegant genes that define its personality”, he concludes.

When selecting the trim for SEAT’s largest SUV, designers worked with premium materials: “We chose melange fabrics and, for the first time, matte chrome trim features that give the car an added touch of sophistication,” explains Amanda López, also from the Colour & Trim department. In order to verify the multiple combinations of interior design, the team used virtual reality technology.

The work of the entire department concludes with the freeze design, a resin replica of what will be the final vehicle, which is used to approve the lines of the new model. This is the last step in the design process, and from this point on the project is handed over to the engineers.

ENDS

SEAT is the only company that designs, develops, manufactures and markets cars in Spain. A member of the Volkswagen Group, the multinational has its headquarters in Martorell (Barcelona), exporting 80% of its vehicles, and is present in over 80 countries on all five continents. In 2017, SEAT obtained an after tax profit of 281 million euros, sold close to 470,000 cars and achieved a record turnover of more than 9.5 billion euros.

The SEAT Group employs more than 15,000 professionals and has three production centres – Barcelona, El Prat de Llobregat and Martorell, where it manufactures the highly successful Ibiza, Arona and Leon. Additionally, the company produces the Ateca and the Toledo in the Czech Republic, the Alhambra in Portugal and the Mii in Slovakia. 

The multinational has a Technical Centre, which operates as a knowledge hub that brings together 1,000 engineers who are focussed on developing innovation for Spain’s largest industrial investor in R&D. SEAT already features the latest connectivity technology in its vehicle range and is currently engaged in the company’s global digitalisation process to promote the mobility of the future.

SEAT Communications

Gemma Solà

Content&Platforms Management

T / +34 639 944 087

gemma.sola@seat.es

 

Vanessa Petit

Content Generation

T / +34 680 153 938

vanessa.petit@seat.es

 

 

 

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