Genesis has been focusing on SUVs, like most automakers, last year launching its first ever, the GV80, and now preparing to roll out the smaller GV70. So, it came as a bit of a surprise when the Korean carmaker pulled the covers off its latest show car this week revealing a new coupe, the Genesis X.
Company officials offered few details about the concept during a private preview on a Los Angeles rooftop except to say it uses an all-electric drivetrain. Genesis previously indicated a battery-electric car will launch well before mid-decade. The question is whether this is it.
“The car that we are unveiling today is a concept car that embodies the essential elements that Genesis pursues in its designs,” said Jay Chang, Global head of the Genesis Brand. “Please take a moment to meet the future of Genesis design through this concept car, which embodies our brand’s progressive and audacious spirit.”
Some familar cues
The Genesis Concept X retains some familiar brand cues, starting with the “crest grille.” But it’s lower and wider without becoming a caricature, as has happened to some manufacturers buying into the industry mantra that the bigger a grille is the better.
Looking closely at these images reveals the grille is purely decorative. Battery-electric vehicles need far less air under the hood than an internal combustion engine. That’s because most powertrain components are mounted below the floorboards. Intakes below the front bumper appear to deliver what little airflow is needed.
One of the more distinctive touches comes with the use of twin LED lightstrips on either side of the grille, they flow off the face of the Genesis X, continuing past the front wheel wells.
The overall shape of the Genesis X is classic coupe, no surprise as such designs are typically quite aerodynamic. Minimizing wind resistance is critical for BEVs, translating not only into improved performance but better range, as well.
The X brings together sensuous curves, especially with the sculpting of the door panels and bulging rear wheel wells. But there also are crisp lines, like those on the hood — implying plenty of power — and where the sweeping roof flows into the high trunk lid.
As up front, the Genesis X uses parallel twin lightbars that flow from the back end forward onto the rear quarter panels.
While many of the latest battery cars take advantage of the lack of an engine up front to shorten the front end — yielding more interior space — Genesis retained a classically long nose and hood here.
A minimalist interior
The interior adopts a true cockpit layout, with a two-tone binnacle flowing into the center console to almost cocoon the driver. The flat-bottomed steering wheel reveals a large digital gauge cluster and a tall but narrow infotainment screen that angles from IP into the center console. There are few visible, traditional controls, designers carefully concealing even the air vents.
“Differentiation of space by coloring the driver’s seat scotch brown and the passenger seat an ocean wave green blue helps emphasize the concept car’s unique design,” Genesis said in a statement accompanying these images.
The cabin makes extensive use of recycled materials, following the latest BEV trend. “A weave-patterned fabric made out of leftover pieces of leather from previous manufacturing processes was used for the safety belts,” Genesis added, along with “parts of the steering wheel, and the airbag cover,” highlighting the concept car’s eco-friendliness.
So, all the design details aside, the remaining questions touch on the Genesis X powertrain and whether there’s a future for the coupe.
EVs coming, but details remain secret
Genesis already has shown off an assortment of zero-emissions concepts, including an early prototype of the GV80, as well as a quirky city car. We know it is looking to launch its first all-electric vehicle by 2023. It will use the E-GMP platform developed by parent Hyundai Motor Group, all but certainly. That underlying, skateboard architecture underpins the new Hyundai Ioniq 5 revealed last month, as well as the Kia EV6 that debuted this week.
The platform is extremely flexible, capable of a variety of body styles, from coupe to sedan to SUV, and products small, medium or large, mainstream or premium. While designed to be rear-drive dominant, it also is likely to show up in all-wheel-drive trim for the Genesis brand. Range was said to be as much as 300 miles or more when the E-GMP architecture formally debuted in December.
Hyundai Motor Group (HMG) R&D President Albert Biermann said at that time E-GMP can use of one or more electric motors. How much power they’ll be able to deliver, Hyundai isn’t saying. Burt it offered a hint by noting that a high-performance model will be able to launch from 0 to 100 kmh (62 mph) in “less than 3.5 seconds,” and reach a top speed 161 mph.
The system can handle 800-volt charging, reaching an 80% state of charge in as little as 18 minutes using the newest public chargers.
A coupe in an SUV world
Now, would Genesis go with a coupe-style BEV? In today’s market that seems like a dicey proposition. Most manufacturers are migrating to crossover designs — but not all. The South Korean carmaker might be taking a cue from both Tesla and, now, Lucid, both of which have started out with electric passenger cars, then followed up with SUVs. The approach may not generate much volume but it helps set the image for a brand, explained Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson in a recent Q&A with TheDetroitBureau.com.
Answers should come soon considering Genesis must move fast to get its first BEV to market.