Hyundai showed a concept it called the Seven at the L.A. auto show; an electric vehicle with a large, lounge-style interior with swivel seats and no steering wheel. In other words, a total flight of fancy—right?
Yes, it is Hyundai’s exploration of vehicles in an autonomous vehicle future, but don’t write off the Seven as purely futuristic fantasy. Dial back the obvious shortcomings, like the need for a steering wheel instead of a retractable joystick, and the Seven is a surprisingly viable early look at aspects of the 2024 Hyundai Ioniq 7, an electric (and mostly conventional) big brother to the 2022 Ioniq 5 electric SUV that recently hit the market to critical acclaim.
Production Ioniq 7 in the Works
The Korean automaker is already working on making the Ioniq 7 midsize three-row SUV a reality, Jose Munoz, Hyundai Global Chief Operating Officer and the president and CEO of Hyundai Motor North America, tells MotorTrend. He has seen the development of the production vehicle, upon which the concept is based. The production model is further along than you might think.
“A lot of things can make it to production,” Munoz says. “It’s gonna be pretty close. You’ll be amazed.”
The family SUV will use Hyundai’s Electric-Global Modular Platform platform that can accommodate multiple rear- and all-wheel-drive electric vehicles with different battery systems. The e-GMT architecture will be used for EVs of all sizes, from subcompact to the three-row Seven.
Exterior Design Shows Intent
The aerodynamic shape of the exterior of the Seven shows the production intent, SangYup Lee, head of Genesis Global Design, says. The rugged SUV exterior was designed to not compromise interior space.
The concept has the longest wheelbase for a Hyundai to date—almost 11 feet. It has pillarless coach doors on the passenger side and symmetrical doors on the driver’s side. Expect the production Ioniq 7 to revert to conventional doors all the way around. Having only one door on the left and two on the right side of the vehicle could be done but might not receive public acceptance, Lee says.
Seven Concept Interior Geared to Autonomous Vehicles
“The interior is a little more visionary than the exterior because we have a vision of full autonomy,” Lee says. “In the meantime, we can give it [Ioniq 7] a regular steering wheel, but we still want to create a feeling of a family lounge space.”
Hyundai wanted a new in-car experience for customers with innovative use of space, said Thomas Schemera, Hyundai global chief marketing officer. To that end, the front and rear seats swivel to face front or back, there is a 77-inch panoramic screen on the ceiling, and a universal island with a 27-inch display that can be used to watch a movie or be a work space.
The huge monitor on the transparent screen roof is doable but might not make sense to bring to market now, says Gil Castillo, senior group manager, Alternative Vehicle and Advanced Vehicle Strategy, for Hyundai Motor North America. It was more an exploration of what is possible when vehicles become autonomous and interiors are recreated as mobile lounges.
Sustainable Materials Are Key
The cabin uses a lot of recyclable materials, copper, and bamboo, Lee notes. Hygiene is a central theme that will make to production. The Seven concept has many air filters and a “hygiene mode” to clean the car between uses. The air circulation system mimics that of an airplane with ventilation that allows each row to breathe different air and the cabin is pressurized. Among the many storage shelves and cubbies is a box to place shoes to clean and deodorize them en route.
Much like the Hyundai 45 concept from the 2019 Frankfurt auto show was a precursor to the Ioniq 5, the Seven could be the precursor to the Ioniq 7, Schemera says. He notes many of the interior features of the 45 concept were realized.
Hyundai is growing its brand value with the Ioniq sub-brand for electric vehicles, Schemera says. It is more competitive in terms of design and is entering new price segments
The road to Ioniq started with a trio of small and electrified vehicles and in 2020 Hyundai said it would turn Ioniq into its own EV brand. Hyundai introduced the Ioniq 5 in May and it recently went on sale. The Ioniq 6 sedan, based on the Hyundai Prophecy concept, is next, followed by the Ioniq 7 in 2024.
The Ioniq 7 will share some family characteristics with the Ioniq 5 such as pixelated lighting, Castillo says. The SUV It is being designed to stand out, but not stick out, and to retain some resemblance to others in the Ioniq family but distinct as it caters to a different target buyer who wants a three-row family vehicle with a spacious interior.
Hyundai will build its first EV in the U.S. in 2022 but has not said what it is.
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