NY Auto Show: Hyundai Reveals New Design Focus

NY Auto Show: Hyundai Reveals New Design Focus
Design & Architecture
Dave Pinter, PSFK
  • 9 april 2009

Hyundai has created some innovative programs surrounding its vehicles like the America’s Best Warranty offer and the quickly copied Hyundai Assurance program that allows customers to walk away from a financing obligation when certain adverse life events occur like the loss of a job. What Hyundai hasn’t managed to do with great success is translate this kind of innovative thinking into the design of its vehicles. Until now.

Today at the NY Auto Show, the company unveiled a new hybrid crossover concept vehicle called the Nuvis. Hyundai has pledged to lead all brands in U.S. fuel economy by 2015 and the Nuvis is built around the companies Hybrid Blue Drive architecture that has some interesting technical innovations.

The design of the vehicle was inspired by the flow of water. The exterior has character lines the sweep along the body side and give the appearance that the vehicle is moving. Inside, the dominant element is a blue center console that flows from front to back and is a visual metaphor for the vehicle’s information system. Each seat is linked via Methode Electronics TouchSense technology.

Underneath the Blue Drive system operates differently from other hybrid vehicles. It is set up so that the fuel-efficient 2.4-liter gas engine and a 30kW electric motor can work in parallel and both power the vehicle at the same time. The system can also operate in an all-electric mode for maximum fuel economy. This gives the driver a choice depending on driving conditions. Also, engine management software automatically shuts off the engine when the vehicle comes to a halt, cutting emissions to zero. The engine automatically restarts when pressure is reapplied to the accelerator pedal.

So why does one concept car suddenly change course for Hyundai? Well it doesn’t. But the second introduction does. The company recently appointed Philip Zak as Chief Designer at Hyundai’s North American Design Center in Irvine, California. Zak previously worked for GM as head of vehicle exterior design in Europe. In speaking to him today, he is optimistic the company is ready to make leaps forward in design.

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