Hyundai's engineers clearly have a creative (and humorous) streak: the men and women at Hyundai's research and development center in South Korea recently showed off some crazy and futuristic concepts at the company's yearly design competition.
The concept is a common one: give your engineers a little bit of time off and the opportunity to use their skills in a different way, and you'll be rewarded with some creative and crazy ideas. Google is famous for this, giving engineers 20 percent of their work time to design and pitch new products--one of the resulting products was/is Gmail, one of the internet's most popular applications. Toyota, even, is famed for the zany idea contests staged by its engineering staff.
This time around, it's Hyundai and its IDEA festival, which brings R&D center employees together to work on a common theme. The 2012 competition was centered on future mobility, and the products you see here are among the winners (which were eventually built ahead of the 2013 festival date).
The ideas include things like an electric bicycle that can compress into the shape of a spare tire, which would allow drivers who have run out of gas, or experienced a flat tire, or blown an engine to finish their journey on a bicycle instead. There's a flying car, which is more like a bucket seat attached to two four-rotor mini-helicopters. There's also an electric car that uses propellers to regenerate some energy, and a car with "joints" that allow the car to maneuver in tighter spaces and even climb stairs.
Our personal favorite is the E4U "egg car." The "E4" part of its name stands for egg, evolution, electricity, and eco-friendliness, although we'd like to think it also stands for eye-popping, because it's painted in a shade of yellow that would look at home on Pikachu. Or it stands for eyes, considering that the front-mounted headlights look like, well, eyes. The whole "cat/animal-like" design isn't helped by the fact that the front panel has two black plastic panels that look like ears, and a rear stabilizer that, when extended, looks an awful lot like a tail.
This rolling emoticon is powered by a 0.67-horsepower electric motor, with a top speed of 15 miles an hour. It also works much like a Segway, letting the driver control the pod's speed or steering simply by leaning forward, backward, or to either side.
Hyundai didn't say if it had any plans to produce any of the vehicles, so don't expect your Accent to start looking like a drone or your Sonata to grow a tail any time soon.