4 Decades of SEAT Cars' Design Evolution

Ever wondered how much time and effort goes into making a SEAT Car? From design to production, the process has changed dramatically over the past 40 years of SEAT's history.

What was once a kit containing compasses, erasers and onionskin paper has given way to the digital era which utilises the latest 3D technology to deliver SEAT cars from concept to reality.

“Everything was done by hand with paper, ruler and compass, and of course no image editing programmes", recalls Ángel Lahoz, one of SEAT's talented designers. In the 80s, the design team would huddle around a long drawing table to outline a full-scale car. The main challenge they faced was projecting the different sections of model design, one on top of the other, onto the paper.

SEAT Cars Design History

“There used to be a single computer in each department for the manager’s assistant and the rest of us worked at tables full of drawings and coloured pencils. It looked like an artists’ workshop”, says Lahoz.

Today, in place of the lead pencil, the team work closely with interactive tablets and digital pens. Gone are the days of "countless modifications made with rubber erasers", he adds.

During the creation of new models, sketches now coexist with impressive full-scale productions of prototypes, making it much simpler to define the final shapes. Two tonnes of plaster has been replaced with a clay-like resin which moulds more precisely.

The SEAT design team have also made use of innovative virtual reality technology, wearing HD glasses to experience first-hand what it feels like at the wheel of a new model. “When I began at SEAT, if they had told me how we would be working today, I would have thought it was science fiction”, says Lahoz.

These new additions to the design process guarantee the viability of initial sketches by around 90%.

Before new SEAT models make it to the market, they are required to pass a series of stringent tests in extreme conditions. While this was something that was taking place three decades ago, the number of tests has now multiplied to test the growing addition of technology and driver-assistance features. From the SEAT Mii to the new SEAT Arona, the same level of car and attention-to-detail is placed on ensuring the SEAT car is suitable for going to market.

The SEAT Technical Centre now employs more than 1,000 professionals in it's 130,000 m2 premises. Originally established in 1975, this is a far cry from the 211 engineers that opened its doors four decades ago.

With 5 times more experts on hand, the design, production and testing of the SEAT cars we know and love, has been honed and perfected to a fine art. With a record-breaking year ahead of them, we can only expect great things from SEAT in the future.

SEAT Cars Design History