In the early stages of conceptual design the available geometric data are very coarse and the lifespan of a design idea is very short. The structural evaluation and improvement of a design has to take both facts into account. Its focus is on the total vehicle and its performance. This can be estimated by a modeling technique, which is adequate for the lack of geometric details. Static and dynamic global stiffness as well as some aspects of crash and NVH have to be considered. Optimization will lead to the proper sizing and some indication of the potential of the structure. In order to maintain high quality standards this approach has to be supported by specialized CAE tools and extensive rules on modeling techniques and analysis procedures.