All this teaming up with plastics companies (see also: Rinspeed/Bayer) could mean carmakers and designers are angling to get DOT approval for new materials that can save weight. Whether the world's safety police will bite is another matter. But Hyundai's QarmaQ (don't ask) is a joint effort with GE Plastics, which provided its latest concoctions like Lexan for the panoramic greenhouse and Exatec, which reflects heat when applied to transparent surfaces. Safety is another of the concept's defining principles, as it shows off a new pedestrian safety system that gently lifts an errant footsman onto a cashmere pillow and transports him to a resort in Andalucia.
Hyundai unveils QarmaQ Advanced Technology Vehicle co-developed with GE Plastics
At the Geneva International Motor Show today, Hyundai Motor Co. and GE Plastics presented QarmaQ, a first in the Crossover Coupe segment. The QarmaQ is Hyundai's Advanced Technology Demonstration Vehicle (ATDV) that showcases over 30 different environmentally progressive technologies led by the innovative "Elastic Front ", an innovative solution that can help reduce the risk of severe injuries in Crossover Utility Vehicles (CUV) pedestrian collisions.
Designed at Hyundai Motor Europe's Design and Technical Center in Russelsheim and engineered in close cooperation with GE Plastics, QarmaQ develops and validates over 30 key technologies, which will be selectively incorporated into Hyundai's new models to be rolled out from 2008-2014.
The QarmaQ is lighter, stronger and more economical than any current production CUV in its class. It also offers significant recycling advantages both in construction and eventual disassembly. In short, it is a viable and realistic glimpse of the future potential of personal automotive transport.
The issue of pedestrian safety is a growing one. In the EU, one-fifth of all traffic fatalities - 7,000 people per year - are pedestrians hit by a vehicle. In densely populated Korea, the rate is as high as 39 percent. QarmaQ s Elastic Front safety system, which encompasses the whole front end of the vehicle, is arguably the world's first global pedestrian protection solution on a CUV. Three energy-absorbing structures are fully integrated underneath the futuristic styling of QarmaQ and this system takes advantage of several advanced materials that offer inherent energy absorbing properties.
A totally relevant concept
The Hyundai QarmaQ concept car is the result of the fusion of exceptional expertise and engineering foresight from Hyundai and GE Plastics. More than a design concept, QarmaQ illustrates that environmentally responsible solutions can be elegantly incorporated to enhance safety, design and performance.
Firmly positioned as a crossover Coupe/CUV, the QarmaQ derives its name from traditional Inuit dwellings, constructed from earth, whalebone and animal skins. Like them, QarmaQ challenges conventional ideas on construction methods and materials. Also in common with the original structures, it boasts unusual strength, resilience and protection.
The choice of a crossover coupe/CUV format for QarmaQ underlines the commitment of Hyundai to design innovation in this market sector. With Santa Fe, Tucson, and Veracruz, Hyundai created pioneering vehicles.
This 2+2 vehicle targets the important empty next baby boomers demographic, who are rediscovering a new-found freedom while remaining the wealthiest demographic in history.
Design: Freedom of shape
As a joint project with GE Plastics, QarmaQ endowed designers with greater expressive freedom to create complex three-dimensional shapes that could not have been achieved with conventional production methods and materials such as metal and glass.
Departing from conventional car design that combines a lower body and a glass cabin on top, QarmaQ blazes a new trail with panoramic wrap-around glazing area using GE's Lexan polycarbonate resin. This part sits between the two pronounced "muscles" above the front and rear wheels. The C-shaped side window enables innovative helicopter-like downward visibility and is a key design feature demonstrating the new glazing technology.
Exterior: Fluidity of line
Connected by unique glazed surfaces, the exterior design relates strongly to, and interacts effortlessly with the interior. The unique division between the solid bodywork and transparent glazed areas creates a new perspective, whether viewed from inside or from the pedestrian standpoint.
The exterior contours and fluidity of line have been refined to give an immediate impression of movement frozen in motion. This aesthetic is mirrored in the interior, so that the fusion and merging of the perceptual boundaries between inside and out delivers a feeling of integration and synchronization to the overall appearance.
In response to shrinking family sizes and emergent customer preferences, QarmaQ is specifically designed to carry four people in above average comfort. The extensive use of new materials and techniques has resulted in a more fluid, more unified interior, by allowing seamless integration of otherwise intrusive elements.
As the sporting exterior proportions suggest, QarmaQ is primarily a driver's car. Within its unique interior architecture the cockpit is isolated in an active, yet protective pod structure. This helps promote a sensorial and highly self-indulgent driving experience.
One of the main aims of the interior design was to develop a practical and interactive space, which wraps around the occupants. The driver-oriented cockpit, which combines functionality with organic sculpted shapes, creates an attractive, fun-to-drive atmosphere. This is further underlined by:
· Inclusion of smooth surfaces embedded with discrete or hidden touch activated sensors
· "Floating" elements pulsating and glowing with tinted ambient lighting The interior is brought alive by a variety of technologies, effects and surfaces, including:
· Thoughtful ambient LED lighting by Lumination, LLC glows through ceramic components
· Silicone applied next to leather, to give a pleasing tactile and visual experience
The colour harmony of the interior has been designed to enhance the feeling of serenity and spaciousness, which in turn relates directly to the high level of comfort enjoyed by the passengers. The mixed effects, textures and colours add sophistication to the dynamic forms and strong presence of the car. Functional elements made from aluminium emphasise the more technical aspects, contrasting with and highlighting the softness of the interior materials.
New materials, new directions in comfort and safety
Current composite technology is usually thought too expensive and too difficult to fabricate to be of use anywhere but the aerospace and motor racing industries. The QarmaQ is physical proof that this need not be so.
The wrap-around GE Lexan windscreen and extensive use of GE polycarbonate glazing materials provides a weight saving of up to 50 percent in relation to glass, while simultaneously allowing more adventurous shapes than flat glass.
The QarmaQ also introduces new curved and moving side glazing in Lexan. As well as allowing such advanced applications, the impact resistance and other properties of this material also helps increase both occupant and pedestrian safety.
Exatec infrared coatings on the whole transparent areas reflect heat, helping cool the interior and reducing the power demands upon the infrared regulated air conditioning. Lighting is achieved by incorporating mood illumination into the actual material, delivering a unique interior ambience. The material also facilitates a perfectly flat, fully integrated fractal radio antenna within the roof structure.
Among other milestones in the construction of QarmaQ, the front wings were designed from the beginning to be one very large single injection moulded component.
Another major safety advance is the use of sensors to detect vehicle presence in the blind spots of the rear view mirrors when pulling out or overtaking, and audio-visually alert the driver.
Euro5 diesel engine
The QarmaQ's 2-liter diesel engine is fully compliant with EURO5 emission regulations. It features the very latest technologies such as high pressure fuel injection and fine fuel spray atomization for higher torque and better power output. Regulated emissions such as CO, THC, NOx and PM, were reduced drastically while a Catalyzed Particulate Filter system, CPF, is capable of cleaning about 90 percent of the particulate matter from the diesel emissions.
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