- Sniff, scrape, drive, sew, test
- Meet the specialists who create your cars
- No spanners needed for their work
MARTORELL, Italy – Creating a new car, says Seat, is usually associated with professionals such as designers, engineers and assembly-line workers but the reality is there are others in the background.
Automaking has several curious professions that require a high degree of craftsmanship, creativity and precision. These five, as examples…
The first driver: Two-million kilometres a year – that’s the distance covered every by a team of expert drivers who test all the cars that leave the Seat factory in Martorell in a single year.
These professionals closely study the performance of the vehicles as soon as they come off the assembly line, testing them at various speeds on six types of pavement, including cobblestones and uneven surfaces, to make sure they don’t make any unpleasant noises.
During the process they also test horns, lights and brakes.
The clay sculptor: These skilled professionals hand-craft clay into life-sized models that even weigh the same as a real vehicle. This requires 2500kg of clay and perhaps 10 000 hours of patient scraping to create a single clay model with which to fully display a car’s silhouette before locking-in its design.
The car tailor: They hand-sew vehicle upholstery test patterns to find the best combination of colours, fabrics and hides to suit the personality of each car.
These experts need more than 30m of seams to fully upholster an entire car and their creations are crafted as much as two years ahead of production.
The seat tester: This profession shapes the ideal seat. Testers and their teams also have to perform up to 20 000 folding operations for each different type of seat.
The study is exhaustive. They must find the right foams, fabrics, structure and stitching that will adapt to various body types and external conditions. They also ensure the correct design of head restraints to prevent possible neck injuries.
CURIOUS DEMANDS ON SOME TESTERS
Car sommeliers: Their most important work instrument is their nose and the aim is to achieve the ultimate goal: the famous “new car smell”. This team of chemists performs more than 400 smell tests every year, exposing cars to temperatures of up to 60C.
This profession places some curious demands on them: they cannot smoke or wear perfume… to do so would alter the test results.