“You smile when you look at this car, you feel happy”. It’s understandable that such a concise seal of approval would come from Youngseong Kim – Sammy to his colleagues. He created the sketch that led to the concept car, the Prophecy, and, at the same time, to the production car that will appear in a few months, with which Hyundai plays the electric sedan card in a deliberately fragmenting automotive future.
Sammy also looked after its development and its creation: “Everyone asked me if it wasn’t too provocative and radical. But I always had the support of these two”. “These two” are Luc Donckerwolke, Executive Vice President and Chief Design Officer of Hyundai Motor Group which includes Genesis, Hyundai and Kia; and SangYup Lee, Senior Vice President and Head of Genesis & Hyundai Global Design Center (Simon Loasby is Vice President and Head of Hyundai Styling). Both are committed to a momentous transformation in Hyundai design.
Between sedan and coupé
To look at a photograph of the Prophecy concept, it seems to be a highly aerodynamic supercar, low and made of sinuous curves, a purebred GT. Then when you see it, as this writer did at a preview in Rüsselsheim to which Hyundai invited him before coronavirus cancelled the official presentation in Geneva, the dimensions (it is 4.75 m long) and the passenger compartment bubble are enough to immediately show it is not a fake sedan with four doors and four seats.
A bubble tapered cabin
“Thanks to the electric platform”, SangYup Lee explains, “we can have a lower vehicle, with big wheels and small overhangs, a tapered bubble passenger compartment. We didn’t want a classic, three-volume solution, but we were looking to redefine the sedan for the future, with plenty of interior spaces, even to the detriment of the boot. These spaces have been extremely well thought-out because the future has more and more downtime in store for us, during which comfort is essential.”
No family feeling
In the car world, according to Donckerwolke, a certain irritation regarding the super-abundance of SUVs is beginning to spread: “Why don’t sedans sell any more? Because we’ve given up on them, and perhaps they should be reinvented. They aren’t attractive because they haven’t evolved, and Darwin teaches us that an organ doesn’t necessarily disappear. It will happen to the SUV as well, if we don’t change it. The Prophecy is a new thing: it is a cross between the sedan and the emotional values that charm the public. Diversification is also at stake. We sell 7-8 million cars per year, and if they were all the same, nobody would buy them. When we launched the Sensuous Sportiness programme four years ago, we decided that our cars would never have a family look. Every car needs to have its own character, and Prophecy is the proof of this”.
Two joysticks instead of the steering wheel
“Prophecy is a safe that contains a treasure”, claims Raphael Bretecher, general manager of this product and head of interiors. The cabinet-like door openings, without a central pillar, facilitate access. But access is even better facilitated by the absence of the steering wheel, which is replaced with two joysticks, one on the central console and the other in the door. “This solution”, Bretecher says, “offers a complete vision and allows the display panel to be lowered, but it has forced us to use a new architecture and rather complex ergonomic choices”.
(Full article in A&D no. 242)