Clean-lined prototype makes extensive use of LED technology, takes inspiration from 1970s concept
Hyundai is previewing its design future by looking to the past with the all-electric 45 concept unveiled at Frankfurt. It is tipped to preview the future shape of an all-electric C-UV likely to go into production in the next few years.
The 45 is named after the number of years since the Korean maker’s first production car, the Pony, was previewed with a sleek Coupé concept designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro. The 45 takes design inspiration from that car, too, with clean lines said to be inspired by 1920s aircraft.
The name also reflects the 45deg angles of the front and rear window lines. Hyundai design chief Sangyup Lee said that “the typology is taken from the 1974 concept – it’s simple, and pure."
The decision to drawing on the work of 45 years ago is that Hyundai considers the production version of this concept to be the first of a new era of dedicated electric vehicles from the company. “The 45 signifies a new beginning, so we looked at the beginning of our company,” said interior design chief Hak Soo Ha. Hyundai feels that it will now be competing “on a level playing field”, he added, because the major manufacturers have very little EV heritage: “We’ve been followers. Now we want to be leaders.”
The 45’s crisp modernising of Giugiaro design has produced a look “tight corners and short overhangs” that will be part of a suite of Hyundai design styles, with the brand planning to develop more distinctive designs for each of its models. It will also visually differentiate its electric cars from its ICE models.
“Looking forwards and backwards helps us diversify our portfolio,” said Lee. “This will be the language for just one electric car. The next EV will be completely different.”
Lee likened Hyundai’s next-generation range to chess pieces rather than Russian dolls, each piece more individual, “but part of an underlying Hyundai philosophy. We want to add emotional value through sensuous sportiness, and bring the emotional side of our cars up to the same standard as our value for money.”
The 1974 concept’s original front-end shape has been reinterpreted in what Hyundai calls a “kinetic cube lamp” design – essentially, a panel of LEDs, acting as the headlight, that produce a theatrical light display on start-up. The same effect is created at the rear.
Hyundai also employs LEDs for the 45’s badging. Meanwhile, a charge indicator at the bottom of the doors allows the driver to quickly see how far they can drive before getting in.
The high waistline contrasts with what looks like an all-glass roof and pillar combination, with blacked-out structural elements and two panoramic glass roof panels with retro slatted sunblinds in the cabin.
Technology developments showcased on the 45 include a camera monitoring system, which is said to leave room for “self-driving system applications”. As is common on concepts, cameras replace the side mirrors and are kept clean by a lens that rotates past a brush.
The interior is even more minimalist than the exterior and dispenses with a centre console. The designers have employed a mix of fabric, wood and leather inside. The dashboard is dominated by a substantial screen that combines the instruments and infotainment, which, Hyundai claims, can be controlled via a “projection beam interface”.
The 45’s interior is a pointer towards the world of autonomous cars, according to the firm. The 45’s generous width and flat floor provide living room-like space, the battery pack that lives beneath offering potential for underfloor heating and cooling, said Lee. The production version will not be fully autonomous and nor will it have clamshell doors, but expect furniture-like interior architecture and warm, inviting materials. “You won’t be disappointed,” added Lee of the production version.
Interior space is maximised by the batteries being set in a skateboard-style floor, allowing Hyundai to “create a space that feels like a living room with new pieces of furniture”. There’s lounge-style seating front and rear and the driver and front passenger get one unbroken footwell.