Hyundai Prophecy Concept – Looking Though the Design Team’s Crystal Ball

While the Concept 45 shown at the 2019 Frankfurt show paid homage to Hyundai’s first car, the Pony, designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, the Prophecy, as its name suggests, looks more towards the future of the Korean brand. Showcasing an evolution of the carmaker’s Sensuous Sportiness design philosophy, the Prophecy concept’s smooth exterior form is reminiscent of Porsche designs — which is no bad thing — and has been inspired by spaceships and a minimalistic black pebble. 

In the video above, Hyundai Motor Company Executive Vice President and Chief Creative Officer, Luc Donckerwolke, explains that the concept is the culmination of four years of work to make Hyundai brand vehicles resonate with buyers in all markets and cites the benefit of electric platforms as an enabler for the design. He notes that the design team sought to create “not just a firework, but something that would have a long-standing influence on future projects.”

According to Donckerwolke, the Prophecy aims to showcase the same levels of enthusiasm and future optimism as 1920s-30s era streamlined cars; sculptural, abstract, emotional and experimental. Overall the exterior form is pleasing enough, but it is the car’s DRG that shines. The LED headlamps and taillamps are very technical 3D elements that complement yet, simultaneously, contradict the flowing exterior shape. The acrylic ducktail spoiler at the rear further serves to separate the technical elements from the organic and emotional.

Inside, the concept is more space-age, with a pair of joysticks that replace a conventional steering wheel. Developed in partnership with RWTH Aachen University, Donckerwolke says 90% of the driving commands can be executed through the two joysticks but also notes that foot pedals double some functions for security reasons.

When in Driving mode, the voice activated IP rotates to reveal a screen, allowing for the space immediately in front of the driver to remain unobstructed. When in Relax mode, there is a further full-width screen at the base of the windscreen to project infotainment features to the driver and passenger.

Besides these joysticks, it’s perhaps the colorways that give the Prophecy its futuristic appeal; the teal colors popping against the all-black exterior. The Tartan woven fabric – made of sustainable wool material – on the seats and animated digital patterns in the door cards also contradicts and complements the fluid shapes of the interior.

“We have brought to life yet another icon that establishes a new standard for the EV segment as well as pushing Hyundai’s design vision to even broader horizons,” says SangYup Lee, Head of Hyundai Global Design Center. “A part of that expansion is what we call Optimistic Futurism, a design concept embodied by ‘Prophecy’. With Optimistic Futurism, our aim is to forge an emotional connection between humans and automobiles.”

While the Prophecy is certainly one of the stronger concepts from the 2020 Geneva show, the decision to show the car in black backfired somewhat. Black is a classic, sophisticated color, yet many of the nuances and details of the design – surface changes, etc. – are very difficult to read via pictures. Hopefully, we’ll get the opportunity to see the Prophecy concept in person at a future show.


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