Motor shows are the intentional grandstand for automotive innovation, and none more so than the Frankfurt International Motor Show, at which South Korean carmaker Hyundai this year unveiled its newest electric vehicle concept, the 45.
As with other automotive concepts, the Hyundai 45 EV Concept looks forwards, but also gives an idle glance backwards to Hyundai’s first concept study, the Pony Coupe which it revealed 45 years ago (hence the name) at the 1974 Turin Motor Show.
But while the Pony Coupe was a quintessential example of 70s design, borne of Italian design house Italdesign Giugiaro, the 45 Concept brings the wedges and lines of the Pony into the next millennium.
With wide flared wheel arches at the rear reaching up to a sleek rear spoiler, U-shaped LED tail lights at both ends of a continuous LED strip are just about the only seventies-style element remaining.
Gone are the bulbous chrome hubcaps of the Pony, replaced by a geometric, windswept hub in midnight silver and black.
Halfway between an angular fastback and small SUV, the Hyundai 45 EV Concept is characterized by relatively narrow windows that taper towards the back, while a clean “Z” on the side flank is again a nod to the Pony, a clever reference to a 45 degree angle, and hints at Hyundai’s vision for the future.
In the roof, a “dynamic daylight opening” (Hyundai likes to refer to this as a DLO) which ends above the back of the rear passenger door “generates a feeling of dynamic forward motion, even when standing still” (well, it at least must let a bit of extra light in – Hyundai doesn’t give anything away on why it is actually dynamic).
A clever addition is a row of LED lights at the bottom of the driver door that indicate the battery status so that the driver is aware of the driving range of the vehicle even before taking the driver’s seat.
Other futuristic features include hidden cameras in the exterior to allow for self-driving applications come an autonomous future, as well as cameras in place of side mirrors (whether they make it to production much like the Volkswagen ID.3’s didn’t remains to be seen).
To ensure the cameras don’t become inlaid with dirt, the 45 Concept rotates them past a little brush to keep clean – a cute and actually quite sensible idea.
Inside, wood, fabric and leather give respite from the sharp angles of the exterior, seeking to give occupants a feeling of being at home.
A wide-format display divided into several information segments spread across two-thirds of the dash while a “projection beam interface” projects onto the wooden surface in front of the passenger to allow interaction with the infotainment system.
Batteries are located in the underbody in a “skateboard” floor design – not exactly revolutionary as many carmakers are taking to this chassis design evolution but it does free up the interior to add to the living room feel (the concept also has rotatable front seats).
All very intriguing, and like other concepts from carmakers it will be interesting to see where it heads in terms of production vehicles.
No specifications on battery size, driving range or motor output have been given by Hyundai’s official channels, although there is some speculation that in line with the similarly retro-themed Honda e, it could have around 300km range.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.