Even before its first all-electric model officially goes on sale, Hyundai signaled what’s ahead for battery-car buyers with the LA Auto Show debut of the Seven concept vehicle.
The battery-powered counterpart to Hyundai’s big Palisade SUV will make the move to production two years from now and provide a halo for the South Korean carmaker’s new Ioniq sub-brand. The first vehicle in that line-up, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 is just starting to roll into U.S. showrooms.
“The Seven concept demonstrates Hyundai’s creative vision and advanced technological development for our electrified mobility future,” said José Muñoz, president and CEO, Hyundai Motor North America, ahead of the electric SUV’s debut in Los Angeles. “Its innovative interior space, eco-friendly powertrain and cutting-edge safety and convenience technologies reveal an exciting future for Hyundai SUV customers.”
Just the start
The Seven is the latest in a series of show cars Hyundai has used to signal the direction it will go as the Ioniq line-up rolls out. It follows the 45 concept from 2019 and the Prophecy prototype from the following year.
It’s based on the same new E-GMP platform as the smaller Ioniq 5 — as well as the new Genesis GV60 and the Kia EV9 SUV also debuting at the LA Auto Show this week. It’s a skateboard-like architecture that places the battery pack, motors and other drivetrain components below the load floor. That helps free up space normally devoted to the passenger compartment — while also lowering the SUV’s center of gravity which helps with ride and handing.
Seven’s hood flows into the front fascia, the SUV opting for a closed “grille,” as there’s no need to drive air into an engine compartment. But there are low-mounted active air flaps that open when cooling air is needed for the brakes, motors and battery pack. The front end is completed with a new take on the Parametric Pixel lighting used on more conventional Hyundai vehicles.
The roofline gently slopes rearward, completed by a small, integrated spoiler. As with all BEVs, aerodynamics played a critical role in the design of the Seven, lower wind drag essential to maximizing range.
Designing the future — now
Hyundai officials suggest the basic design of the Seven will be carried over with the upcoming Ioniq 7, but there will be some key differences almost certain to be lost when it goes into production — most notably the “pillarless coach doors” that swing open to provide easy access, and a yawning view, of the cabin.
By pushing the wheels close to the corners, the three-row Seven concept boasts the longest wheelbase ever for a Hyundai at 3.2 meters, or 126-inches, and with no driveshaft tunnel, it helps create a “premium lounge-style interior.”
Thomas Schemera, executive vice president and global chief marketing officer, told TheDetroitBureau.com, “Space is the name of the game.” While he declined to confirm the concept would become Hyundai’s next all-electric vehicle, he did say one gets “a very good hint” of the direction of the company’s next EV by simply looking at its past moves.
The Ioniq 5 is clearly based off a concept it dubbed the 45, he noted, adding “may in this case we go the same way.”
In concept form, it’s envisioned as capable of fully autonomous driving. When activated, the aircraft-style “control stick” retracts and the driver’s seat can swivel to face other occupants.
“The seat arrangement is unlike traditional SUVs, with swiveling lounge chairs and a curved bench seat,” the automaker explained in a statement. “This seat arrangement can be customized depending on driver-controlled or autonomous driving modes.”
There’s even a “Universal Island” console into which mobile versions of various home appliances can be mounted, such as a mini-fridge. Schema mentioned some of these things, including mini-fridge may end up being part of the production version of this vehicle.
There are plenty of videoscreens that occupants can watch together or privately, and even the roof is actually a high-resolution OLED screen.
Learning from current conditions
“Seven dares to break from the beaten path,” said SangYup Lee, senior vice president and head of Hyundai Global Design. “Seven paves the way forward for what an SUV needs to become in the EV era with a unique aerodynamic pure form that does not compromise on its rugged personality. The interior opens up a new dimension of space that cares for tis passenger as a family living space.”
Meanwhile, in the era of COVID, Hyundai said it has turned to various antimicrobial fabrics and materials for a “hygienic mobility environment.” The concept vehicle also can be programmed to activate a UV-lighting system to sterilize the cabin when there are no occupants onboard.
As for the drivetrain, Hyundai isn’t saying much. It’s believed to be all-wheel drive and likely could produce more than 300 horsepower, in line with or beyond what the smaller Ioniq 5 manages. In production, AWD and rear-drive appear likely, the E-GMP platform — which Schemera described as “stretchable — allowing a wide variety of drivetrain configurations — and battery pack sizes.
The concept, Hyundai said, is “engineered to achieve” at least 300 miles on a full charge. Using a 350-kW charger, meanwhile, it could go from 10 to 80% of battery capacity in about 20 minutes.
Look for the production Ioniq 6 to come to market late in 2022, with the Ioniq 7, the production version of the Seven concept, to follow a year later.