Didn't see this one coming. Hyundai has teased the electric concept it's taking to next month's Frankfurt Motor Show, and it makes us yearn to grab a cassette full of synthwave and a VHS tape of that 1985 classic, "Space Rage." At first glance, we thought the teaser captured the front of the car, and we got DeLorean DMC-12 vibes. But the teaser is the back of the car. If KITT had been a 1972 AMC Gremlin X instead of a 1982 Pontiac Trans-Am, this Hyundai concept is what KITT's backside would have looked like. A gif flle even shows the full-length LED panel illuminating before resolving into taillights. Hyundai calls it "45," and says the design exercise "will display the company’s focus toward the future direction of car design at Frankfurt." This is quite the revolution away from the rakish sculpture Hyundai showed at Milan Design Week. We don't know how much the future will involve blunt, science-fiction lines and Lite-Brite taillamps, but we're on board with this particular combination.
It's not fair to accuse Hyundai of stealing influences here; the EV concept is called 45 for a reason. At the 1974 Turin Motor Show, Hyundai Motor presented what would become its first mass-produced car and its first export, the Pony. Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro at Itadesign, the conservatively styled five-door hatchback is the rock Hyundai's automotive empire is built on. That same 1974 Turin Motor Show hosted another Giugiaro-designed Hyundai, the Pony Coupe concept, created to draw buzz to the South Korean brand. No one talks about the Pony Coupe now, but have a look at the production car or the concept and you can see Hyundai mining its own history for the present 45 concept. But wait, there's more: Italdesign, by its own admission, resurrected the Pony Coupe design seven years later as "the greatest source of inspiration" for a much bigger hit, the DeLorean DMC-12. Who knew.
The 45 concept will serve as the center of Hyundai's EV campaign called Style Set Free. As the automaker prepares new electric vehicles due in 2021 on a dedicated EV platform called E-GMP, Style Set Free imagines how we will one day interact with those offerings. The marketing goes beyond automobiles, encompassing new ways to interact with objects in general, including vehicles. The car-centric idea is another way of proposing EVs and autonomous cars as customizable open cabins where customers will enjoy "individualized living spaces" on wheels. As well, Hyundai says 45 "accentuates the forward-driven design direction while exploring evolution of Hyundai’s ‘Sensuous Sportiness’ design language." We'll find out what it all means at the reveal in Frankfurt on September 10.