Opinion: Hyundai’s EV concepts are leading the way

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Hyundai SEVEN concept 12

Seven electric SUV concept’s unveiling confirms the Korean brand’s position as a design leader.

So many column inches have been filled with talk of Hyundai’s stratospheric ascent through the ranks of the car industry that its new Seven concept’s starring role at the Los Angeles motor show seems a perfectly natural fit.

First came the Le Fil Rouge concept, which looked like nothing Hyundai had ever built and was instrumental in building intrigue around the production cars to come. Then there was the wonderfully retro 45 concept, which we know now as the little-changed Ioniq 5, and after that the Prophecy saloon, which we expect to morph into a slippery sports saloon with Porsche Taycan-bating performance figures in the next year or so.

Hyundai Ioniq 5 Australia 2021 6

And now there’s the Seven, which gives a tantalising glimpse of a genuinely desirable large electric SUV – a type of car that usually fails resoundingly to get car enthusiasts particularly excited. Gaze upon its Kamm-tail rear end, its pixeltastic light clusters and confident stance: this is a brand that knows exactly how to stand out and does it in such a way that both traditional buyers in this segment and ‘petrolheads’ alike have something to get excited about.

We know now that Hyundai does what it says it will do, so while the eventual Ioniq 7 will no doubt drop some of the Seven concept’s less feasible design cues, its futuristic and minimalistic traits will shine through. And that will be good news for the hordes of new fans that Hyundai has won in recent years with its dramatically styled concepts and one-offs (just last week, the quiet unveiling of the ‘retro-futuristic’ electrified Grandeur set the internet ablaze with collective admiration).

Hyundai SEVEN concept

Just last year, the company’s design boss, Sang Yup Lee, told us: “Hyundai is known for value for money, but this isn’t enough. We need to add emotional value to our cars through design.”

Already this ploy appears to be bearing fruit, and Lee’s earlier promise that future EVs from the brand wouldn’t all look alike must surely be cultivating appeal across various demographics. The trick will be matching its acclaimed design cues with well-rounded powertrains and innovative interiors, but again the early signs are that the brand is prepared to meet that challenge.

Has any marque made such a raging success of its transition to electrification, so far? It’s only three years since the ICE-based Ioniq Electric and Kona Electric first hit the roads, but Hyundai is already firmly out in front of the great race to a zero-emissions future and, even more excitingly, is showing that electrification and homogenisation need not go hand in hand.

Felix Page

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