ŠKODA Vision E Concept steals Shanghai car show
Vision E is the name of the first purely electrically powered concept car in the long-established Czech brand’s history, which spans over 120 years.
Generous amount of space, state-of-the-art assistance systems and Skoda Connect services as well as numerous ‘Simply Clever’ features are typical of Skoda. Skoda is also making electromobility ‘Simply Clever’ with a long range, easy-to-use charging technology and outstanding economic efficiency. In addition to plug-in hybrid vehicles, Skoda will also have five fully electric cars in its range by 2025. By then, one in every four cars sold by the brand worldwide should be a plug-in hybrid or have a purely electric drive.
The Skoda Vision E is based on Volkswagen Group’s MEB (modular electrification toolkit) and, with its two electric motors, has a power output of 225 kW. This allows the Vision E to accelerate particularly smoothly and also extremely dynamically up to its top speed of 180 km/h. Thanks to the efficient and powerful lithium-ion batteries and an intelligent brake energy recovery system, a range of up to 500 km is achieved. Furthermore, the Vision E can also drive completely autonomously.
The Vision E is 4688 mm long, 1924 mm wide and has a height of 1591 mm. Due to the long wheelbase - 2851 mm - and the short front and rear overhangs, a very generous and comfortable interior has been created in typical Skoda style. The car combines an SUV-style raised seating position and a hatchback’s generous amount of space with a dynamic silhouette and a gently sloping roofline in the style of a coupé.
The modern Skoda design charms with harmonious proportions, neatly moulded surfaces, precise lines and clean-cut edges. Equally characteristic are the powerful contours, which set the stage for a sensational interplay between light and shade that conveys dynamism and emotiveness. With their 3D design, the crystalline structures of the headlights, tail lights and other features dominate the sophisticated character that is defined by modern technology and a particular degree of refinement. The design is an expression of the elegance and modern functionality that is typical of Skoda cars.
Thanks to the large glass surfaces, the interior is light and transparent. The concept of horizontal lines is continued consistently and underlines the interior’s clear-cut structure and generous amount of space. Four individual, body-contoured seats with new backrests emphasise the modernity of the vehicle.
The seats are slightly raised, thereby providing great visual clarity. In addition, the seats can be rotated by up to 20 degrees. They turn towards the outside when the doors are opened, which makes getting in easier. After closing the door, they return to their initial position - a new ‘Simply Clever’ feature that provides additional comfort through ergonomically optimised design and mechanics. Due to the concept, there is no need for a transmission tunnel in the front or rear, which creates a generous feeling of spaciousness.
Besides the cockpit screen for the display of conventional vehicle data, there are further displays for the occupants. The central touchscreen sits in the middle of the dashboard, so that the driver and front passenger can operate and read all of the important functions and services.
In addition, there are individual displays for the front and rear passengers to allow for the operation of numerous comfort functions such as information and entertainment. The front passenger display is integrated into the dashboard whilst the displays for the rear passengers are in the backrests of the front seats. Furthermore, the front and rear passengers can control their individual entertainment program using their own touch displays. The front passenger’s control unit is incorporated into the right armrest; the rear passengers’ control unit is located between the two rear seats.
A Phonebox is built into the inside of each door, allowing inductive charging of the occupants’ smartphones. The smartphone’s personal settings, data and information can be accessed via the individual displays. Ambient lighting is integrated into the doors’ decorative strips and below the dashboard. It can be set to one of ten colours and can therefore be adjusted to the individual mood.
As soon as the vehicle drives autonomously, you can slide the front seats back and enjoy guaranteed maximum relaxation. At the same time, the steering wheel is raised, which means the largest possible amount of space and a corresponding degree of comfort.
Due to intelligent management, the car’s two electric motors work together with maximum efficiency and permanently drive all four wheels. The front and rear wheels are driven as required to ensure maximum levels of stability, safety and dynamism.
The liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery is particularly powerful and is housed in the crash protection area deep in the chassis floor and located centrally between the front and rear axles. This positioning of the slimline high voltage storage unit also contributes to the favourable weight distribution between the front and rear axle as well as to the Skoda Vision E’s low centre of gravity.
Intelligent charging is one of the numerous ‘Simply Clever’ features. It is done inductively, for example via a floor panel in the owner’s garage. Here, the vehicle is brought to a stop with the front axle above the floor panel/pad. This charging pad is connected to the power grid. Overnight, it completely charges the vehicle’s batteries automatically using induction technology, i.e. the operation is completely contactless and does not require a charging station or cable reel. Quick charging is also possible - 80 per cent of battery capacity in just 30 minutes.
With the Vision E, Skoda not only provides an outlook on the fully electric and thereby locally emission-free future of mobility but also on the forms of automated and autonomous driving which can be realised very soon.
The Vision E concept car achieves the requirements for level 3 of autonomous driving. It can operate independently in traffic jams, complete motorway journeys using autopilot, stay in lane or take evasive actions, overtake other vehicles, independently look for free parking spaces and drive in and out of parking spaces autonomously. All of this is aided by various sensors with different ranges and numerous cameras that monitor the traffic situation.
The Skoda Vision E is equipped with numerous assistance systems and most are already available for many of the current Skoda models today. Furthermore, several additional innovative systems can be found on board the Skoda Vision E including Traffic Jam Assist, which automatically accelerates or brakes, an autopilot for motorway driving, which steers, accelerates and brakes independently (provided that the motorway fulfils the conditions for autonomous driving), the car park autopilot, which automatically searches for and guides the car to free parking spaces, and the Educated Parking function, which memorises and finds the driver’s preferred parking locations.
The Educated Parking system is important particularly in regard to the inductive charging of the high-voltage battery. The system’s distinctive feature is its ability to learn. The driver just has to complete a full parking manoeuvre twice in order to gather all of the information required for it to work. Subsequently, the system is able to independently find the exact parking location that is ideal for inductive charging and guide the car to it.
The Skoda Vision E features various laser and radar scanners around the vehicle for long, medium and short distances which can detect vehicles or obstacles on the relevant route and in the vehicle’s surroundings.
The Skoda Vision E’s display and operating concept comprises new systems that optimise comfort and safety while driving. The innovative digital Human Machine Interface (HMI) system guarantees maximal flexibility when controlling numerous functions in the car. The infotainment, communication and navigation functions can be activated and controlled both with the help of a central control unit on the centre console and via the individual touchscreens.
In addition to this, the Skoda Vision E also features gesture control for selected functions. Defined hand movements performed by the driver in the area around the centre console are picked up and identified by a camera. This allows standardised instructions, such as adjusting the audio system’s volume or answering phone calls, to be given with simple hand and finger gestures, without the driver having to take their eyes off the road.
Other new features available in the concept car include the Eye Tracking function which constantly monitors the driver’s eye movements. The camera-based system is able to always display the information required by the driver at the right time and in a perfectly ergonomic position on one of the screens in the interior. The Eye Tracking function can also be used to analyse how alert the driver is.
When the driver’s concentration is waning, Driver Alert fatigue detection is activated and prompts the driver to take a break. Another system that optimises safety and that is being introduced in the Skoda Vision E is the heart rate monitor, which constantly monitors the driver’s heart rate and warns them if it is at a dangerous level. Should a medical problem arise, the Skoda Vision E can use its automatic driving functions to steer the car onto the hard shoulder without the driver’s help and bring the car to a stop. In the event of an emergency (e.g. a heart attack), the system can call the emergency services.
Comprehensive connectivity between the car, driver and passengers provides an extremely comfortable and safe journey. All of the connectivity features available offer improved access to information, a wide range of entertainment and an even higher level of safety. The Skoda Vision E is equipped with the latest infotainment systems. All of the capacitive touchscreens come in a Skoda-typical glass design. Thanks to a superfast LTE module and the most cutting-edge navigation system that comes with a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot, which connects all of the occupants’ mobile devices, the occupants of the Skoda Vision E are ‘always online’.
The range of infotainment features is complemented by the Skoda mobile online services, which provide navigation, information, entertainment and assistance. Via the Skoda Connect portal, the customer can even configure services from their home computer as well as transfer destinations, routes and points of interest to the car.
The Care Connect services support the Skoda Vision E’s occupants in many situations. The data is transferred via a SIM card that is installed in the vehicle. Numerous online services can be run via the Skoda Connect app on a smartphone.
Skoda will make electromobility a permanent feature of everyday life. To this end, vehicles are being developed with plug-in hybrid drives as well as cars which are purely electrically powered. These will impress with qualities that are typical of the brand. Electromobility plays a crucial role in the company’s global growth strategy. In addition to plug-in hybrid vehicles, Skoda will also have five fully electric cars in its portfolio by 2025. From that point onwards, one in every four cars sold by Skoda worldwide should be a plug-in hybrid or have an entirely electric drive. The fully electric vehicles will cover different segments and thus appeal to a wide range of target groups for Skoda’s take on purely electric mobility.
Skoda is particularly expert at developing vehicles which stand out due to their suitability for daily use, versatility, uncomplicated functionality, adaptability and excellent value for money. These characteristics also play a decisive role in the innovative concepts for the mobility of the future. Electromobility in the typical style of Skoda allows for locally emission-free driving with the highest degree of reliability, suitability for daily use and economic efficiency. Skoda models with plug-in hybrid as well as purely electric drives will therefore represent an attractive offering for a wide range of customers in the volume segment.
At Skoda, the development of electric drive systems is closely linked to a variety of other innovations that are of crucial importance to the design of future individual mobility. Electromobility is therefore embedded in the development of fully autonomous vehicles, in the ongoing advance of digitalisation and in the propagation of innovative mobility services.
The development of Skoda models with purely electric drive systems is running in parallel to the implementation of further levels of automated driving in production. In the future, the driver will be able to transfer an ever-increasing number of driving responsibilities to their vehicle.
The highest degree of precision in the management of acceleration, deceleration and steering, as well as the detailed capture of the vehicle’s surroundings using a large number of cameras and sensors, enable additional progress in this area. The electric vehicles developed by Skoda based on the MEB (modular electrification toolkit) will have the basic architecture required to integrate these functions, which will be usable in the medium and long term, into their in-car electronics.
The rate of progress in the area of digitalisation is similarly rapid. With Skoda Connect, customers can already make use of an extensive range of digital services. This technology has also been designed in an especially future-oriented way in conjunction with electromobility. Additional services that are specially aligned to the needs of electromobility will be available for Skoda plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles from the very beginning.
Another field of activity in which new perspectives are opening up in parallel to the shift towards electromobility is mobility services. The business areas which will benefit from this development include car sharing, the provision of on-demand mobility and numerous services directly linked to individual mobility requirements. In these areas too, Skoda has the potential to precisely identify customer requirements and fulfil them with clear, well-conceived and reliable solutions.
Dave Moore has been writing about cars for more than half a century, if you count the school magazine piece he published about his uncle's broken down MG.
After university, he worked as creative director in the London Advertising scene, before emigrating to New Zealand in 1979. Throughout that time he has been reviewing motorcycles and cars for British, Australian, American, Canadian and New Zealand publishers.
Most recently Dave has been the Group Motoring Editor for Fairfax Media, parting ways with the company in 2015 after 30 years. Dave has been recognised eighteen times by the Qantas Media Awards and has received more than a score of other national awards for his writing and photography.
Dave is now spending more time with his family, though it's still rare to see his driveway without an evaluation vehicle sitting on it as he's Radio Live's motoring pundit, with a half-hour spot that airs every Tuesday from 11:30 am to 12 noon.