Carmakers seem to have gotten the message that electric cars should be futuristic and cool, and the new Hyundai 45 concept is yet another retro-inspired electric hatchback that proves Hyundai is at the top of the hot hatchback game, and that the future may not be so bad.
I can’t help but think of the new European Honda E—another retro-styled electric hatchback that reminds the world EVs don’t have to look like heavy vacuum cleaners. The new Hyundai 45 concept gracefully follows this same basic philosophy.
The concept is based on the 1974 Pony Coupe Concept, one of the very first cars Hyundai ever sold, and supposedly signals a new design direction for the Korean brand as it wades further into electrification of its lineup and introduces semi-autonomous and self-driving features.
Hyundai describes this design as “diamond-like,” with a sharp line angled at 45-degrees—part of the influence for the concept name—splitting the car down the sides. There’s also a new, simplified brand logo that’s very similar to the simplified Volkswagen logo introduced on the ID.3 yesterday in that it’s basically a solid, flat version of the old logo.
Other cool design elements on the exterior include a battery status bar under the door sill on each side that immediately informs passengers the charge level of the car’s battery before getting in, rear indicators seated in the rear window, doors that open and pivot up against the body instead of out (that will never make it to production), cameras with little motorized brushes in place of side mirrors, and those incredible massive turbine-like wheels.
There’s no real technical specifications for the 45 concept except that it’s a skateboard-like electric vehicle design, meaning the batteries lie flat under the passenger compartment for a low center of gravity. It’s also meant to preview an interior designed around self-driving capability.
Inside, Hyundai says it was inspired by “furniture” (genius!) for the wood and leather accents, the front seats swivel for easier entry and exit from the car, a massive screen stretches across the dashboard, and the lateral wood panel in front of the passenger appears to feature some sort of embedded tablet-like technology, though it looks like it’d be strangely uncomfortable to lean forward to use.
The “45” also signals 45 years since the 1974 Pony Concept, and I think it’s nice that Hyundai went back to the very beginning to launch a direction for its future electric vehicles. We don’t often see nostalgia for old-school Hyundais. Good on the automaker for embracing that history.
This thing looks cool as shit, and considering the new Veloster N hatchback is one of the office’s favorite cars on the road right now, I’m hoping some of that DNA trickles into the future.