New Skoda Vision E concept points to electric future

Coupe SUV shows what Skoda’s electric cars could be capable of; smaller EVs likely first

The Skoda Vision E concept has been unveiled at April’s Shanghai Motor Show today, and signals Skoda's intent to become a major player in the electric car market.

Skoda, like many manufacturers, sees electric vehicles (EVs) as fundamental to its future, and while the Vision E may not be the brand’s first EV (that honour is likely to go to a battery-powered Citigo), Skoda reckons electric vehicles will make up 25% of its total sales by 2025.

Skoda Vision E: design

The Vision E concept sits on the same mechanical platform as the Volkswagen I.D. concept, but while the I.D. looks set to focus on people-carrier-style seating and spaciousness, the Skoda Vision E blends the ride height of an SUV with the tapered lines of a coupe.

Size wise, the Vision E is slightly shorter than the Kodiaq, but a significantly lower. It’s also wider, despite an absence of wing mirrors.

Up front, the Vision E features what Skoda calls a “phantom” grille, bookended by two horizontal headlight strips above and below. The phantom grille is so called because electric cars don’t have the same need for fresh air as petrols and diesels, so the front grille can be closed. Running along the side of the Vision E are yet more lights, while at the back of the car a fresh treatment is given to Skoda’s familiar rear lights.

Skoda Vision E interior

Granted, the recently released images of the Vision E show a concept car's interior, but look closely and you may be surprised at just how conventional it is inside. There’s a central infotainment screen supplemented by dedicated buttons below it, a central armrest with auxiliary controls, seatbelts, pedals, a steering wheel and door handles – prosaic details maybe, but not a given for a concept car, and ones that indicate Skoda ultimitely has big EV plans.

The front passenger’s screen, meanwhile, echoes the passenger information display fitted to the current Ferrari GTC4 Lusso – though Skoda’s take on this display is that it'd be used for video calls and instant messaging, rather than speed and performance data.

Look to the doors, meanwhile, and you’ll find integrated ports for mobile phones. These presumably charge passengers’ mobiles, but could also become personalised entertainment systems for each occupant. Skoda’s top-spec L&K trim should also continue to act as a flagship for the brand, as the Vision E’s dashboard bears the Laurin & Klement motif.

The wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels) is longer than the Kodiaq which, combined with short overhangs (the bodywork that ahead of the front and behind the rear wheels) and the battery pack under the floor means more interior room. Legroom is claimed to be some 7% greater than the Skoda Octavia.

Motor, range and performance

Were the Vision E to make it into production, it'd have two electric motors producing 302bhp. Four-wheel drive would be standard, while top speed would be capped at 112mph and 0-62mph could be dispatched in around six seconds. A variety of battery packs could also be offered, with the best (and most expensive) providing a range of up to 310 miles. Rapid, wireless charging would see the batteries go from empty to 80% in just 30 minutes.

According to Skoda's technical boss Ladislav Rak: "The agility will be better than on internal combustion cars. The electric drivetrain will offer more power and more fun."

Technology

The Vision E’s batteries sit under its floor in a platform developed specifically for electric vehicles. That means passenger space would be excellent, with bosses claiming it could offer the same legroom as the impressively spacious Octavia. Four seats are being mooted for now, though a third rear seat may appear in any future production version.

The Vision E could also boast Gesture Control to operate the audio system or answer phone calls and an eye tracking system to detect driver fatigue. Another clever proposed feature is a heart rate monitor allowing the car to steer itself onto a hard shoulder should the driver suffer a serious medical problem.

The Vision E could form part of Skoda's electric vanguard, but first we should expect an EV version of the Skoda Citigo runabout. There could also be plug-in hybrid (PHEV) versions of the Superb, Kodiaq and Yeti, with the Superb PHEV pencilled in for 2019.

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