Hyundai’s New Concept Pays Homage to…the Pony?

That’s right, the new 45 show car celebrates the anniversary of Hyundai’s first car.

Do you remember the Hyundai Pony? It was 45 years ago that a then fledgling Korean automaker showed the Pony coupe concept, which became its first mass-produced car. The Pony had quality issues that tarnished its maker's reputation for years, but Hyundai has grown into a powerhouse that now features some of the best design and engineering and highest quality in the industry.

So it's time to accept and celebrate its past. Enter the 45 EV concept unveiled at the Frankfurt auto show. The design is a throwback to the 1974 Pony concept but its electric powertrain and autonomous technology portend the future. The 45 is a fastback with a wide, lightweight monocoque body that designers say was inspired by aircraft from the 1920s.

The name 45 it not just a historic nod, it also refers to the 45-degree angles at the front and back of the car. Hyundai said the diamond-shaped silhouette represents the design direction for future EV models. It has a lattice grille and futuristic matrix-like cube headlamp as Hyundai continues to play with lighting—the Sonata's units that run up the hood being an example of the emphasis being placed on lighting architecture to distinguish the brand.

Before you get in, LED lights at the bottom of the door tell you the car's state of charge in an effort to relieve range anxiety, especially for the first-time electric-car buyer.

Inside is tech we should look for in future Hyundai vehicles, including a hidden Camera Monitoring System that replaces the side mirrors with cameras. The lens periodically rotates past a brush to keep it clean for better visibility.

The minimalist cabin aims to create a living-room-esque space, and is marked by lots of daylight, lounge chairs in the back, front seats that rotate to face the second row—the seats also swivel when the door opens to ease ingress and egress—and projection screens for the infotainment system. Transparent storage in the doors can accommodate books or tablets.

The batteries do not intrude on the interior space and are mounted in a skateboard-style chassis under the floor. So even while this concept is more of a design study than a powertrain preview, the concept makes it clear Hyundai is thinking like the rest of the industry when it concerns electric-vehicle platforms. The 45 is definitely a cool twist on a classic—infamous?—Hyundai, and we look forward to seeing more of its aesthetic and technology ideas in future models.

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