Once Upon a Time... There was a New Car
Martorell, 09/02/2016. - "What's the first step in making a car?" "How many days does it take to make a new car?" This is just a small sampling of the questions asked by a group of seven-year-old children. Full of curiosity and with the freshness, spontaneity and innocence that characterise their age, thanks to them we learned what is behind the creation process of a car in the year when SEAT is launching its first compact SUV.
The day starts just like any other. The 25 elementary students of the 'Minions' class arrive at the La Salle Gràcia school in Barcelona at 9 am. They put away their book bags, hang up their coats and put on their smocks. As they wait for their usual teacher, suddenly two complete strangers walk through the door - Xavier Agustín and Amanda Gómez, an engineer and a designer from the SEAT Technical Centre.
Xavier breaks the ice: "We'd love to know how you would design a new car". The children respond immediately with suggestions like: "I'd give it jet engines and make it go underwater", from Léonard. "I'd put wings on it", says Ona. "A free bicycle", suggests Júlia. "I'd like to press a button and make the car drive itself", says the other Júlia in the class. "You're getting close", admits Xavier. "We have cars that park by themselves. All you have to do is work the pedals and the steering wheel turns on its own. And it parks right on the first try". "We also have cars that detect when another one gets too close", he adds. "When that happens, it slows down or stops all by itself". Silvia proposes that the "windows go up and down when you tell them". Then Xavier gets off his stool and walks over to her while pointing at the Smart Watch on his wrist. "See this watch? Well, it opens the doors, tells you how much petrol you've used, and even knows where you parked!" "No way...!", they all exclaim in amazement.
Then the children are put into two groups. "What's the first step in making a car?", asks Artau. "First you need something I'm sure you all use in the classroom", replies Amanda. "Pencils", they guess. "Exactly! Every car begins with a drawing; all you need is a pencil, paper and some imagination, just like you". And she shows them a few sketches of SEAT models, which the children look at in astonishment. "Super cool", they all agree.
In Xavier's group, the children also have some questions. "How many days do you need to make a car?" "On average, only about 17 hours". "Wow!" they all exclaim. "But one thing is how long it takes to make one, and another how much time we put into designing and developing it. For that we need between three and four years".
In Amanda's group they start playing a game. While the children imitate the movements of the robots, the SEAT designer explains to them that at SEAT "there are over 2,000 robots that make the cars and it looks like they are performing a perfectly choreographed dance". Xavier's group joins in on the fun. Everybody is having a good time with the car parts brought by Xavier and Amanda, but amid the hullabaloo the children keep asking questions, like when Amanda shows them a car seat and some samples of upholstery, and Xavier explains how an airbag works. "It's similar to a balloon, but it blows up a lot faster, the same time it takes you to blink an eye".
And before they leave for the day, the two guests have prepared a well-deserved surprise for the little experts. Xavier and Amanda lead the children to the school auditorium. They have no idea what to expect as they all climb onto the stage where there is something behind closed curtains. As they slowly start to open, a large screen appears. "What are we going to watch?", they whisper to each other. "You're going to be the first to see our new car, the first compact SUV in the history of SEAT". Then the screen lights up suddenly and they see it for the first time. They stare, speechless. "Cool..." is about all anyone can manage to say.
They have already seen it. The rest of the world will for the first time tomorrow, Wednesday 10th of February.