We’ll soon be casting our eyes over the concept cars set to make their debuts at the Geneva motor show, but it’s a rare opportunity to see these cars revealed in full-size clay ahead of their unveiling. That’s exactly what Hyundai did when they invited us along for a sneak preview of the Intrado concept, the latest forward thinking vehicle designed at the Korean automaker’s European Technical center in Russelsheim, Germany.
Designed by a team led by Hyundai Motor Europe Chief Designer Thomas Buerkle, the Intrado is the first Hyundai vehicle created under the direction of Peter Schreyer who became President and Chief Design Officer of Hyundai Motor Group in January last year. Schreyer is now taking the design-led philosophy he initiated at Kia over to sister company Hyundai as he works to ‘renew’ the company’s range.
“My role is to consider how design can express the fundamental values of the Hyundai brand, because design is the ultimate expression of brand values,” Schreyer said at the presentation in Germany. “We will do that with products of substance that are true to our brand. Products that are sensual, playful, effortless, inclusive, constantly evolving and visionary.”
Roughly the size of Nissan’s Juke, the Intrado concept is the most recent compact ‘lifestyle vehicle’ aiming to fulfill the needs of a younger generation of consumers, most of which live primarily in urban environments. While the crossover’s compact footprint enables it to more easily navigate though densely populated areas, it also caters to the target demographics’ desire to play in the great outdoors.
Unlike most design programs, the Intrado was conceived from the inside out, with the entire vehicle developed around its four-passenger interior. The designers sought inspiration from outdoor sports – specifically kite surfing – in the creation of its floating instrument panel. In combination with the full-length carbon fiber center console, the IP is the aesthetic centerpiece of the design, communicating the lightweight aspect of the vehicle.
At the core of the concept is an all-new carbon frame structure, which consists of soft woven carbon fiber tubing joined together and heated to create a rigid structure. It encases the entire passenger compartment and extends to the rear. The system uses patent-pending manufacturing and joining techniques and is said to be both extremely strong and super-lightweight, though Hyundai did not divulge specifics figures for comparison.
Only after the seating buck was built did work begin on its exterior design. The body panels, which can be constructed from a variety of materials thanks to the new frame, enabled greater flexibility for designers to progress Hyundai’s ‘Fluidic Sculpture’ design philosophy to the next phase. Led primarily by aerodynamic efficiency, the exterior design is largely devoid of extraneous ornamentation. Its voluminous surfaces interact through positive and negative forms underlined by four ‘wings’, which create the car’s visual character.
But the Intrado is more than just an exercise in aesthetics and materials. The concept also has an eye on efficiency, sourcing power from a hydrogen fuel-cell cleverly packaged to maximize interior space on board. The motor is mounted in front under the clamshell hood; the main battery pack is under the cabin to optimize weight distribution and keep the car’s center of gravity low; and two tanks – one larger than the other – are placed under the rear seat and trunk.
The Intrado shows Hyundai’s ambitions to create new solutions to not only increase safety and environmental performance of its vehicles, but also the well being of passengers on board. We’ll be bringing you the full story on the concept’s development after its formal debut at the Geneva motor show.