Discover Hyundai: Behind the Design and Innovation
In our previous article, we discussed about the process how Hyundai makes its cars from steel. It’s an amazing feat in itself but it’s only half of the picture. This time we’ll take a look behind the creative process, the design, and the innovation of Hyundai cars.
Day 3 of the Discover Hyundai Korea Forum 2013 begins at the mecca of Hyundai Motors’ technology and design – the Namyang Technical Research and Design Center. Since this is the place where Hyundai conceptualizes and designs future projects, taking photos within the facility are strictly prohibited. We were asked to surrender cameras and place tamper-indicating stickers on our smartphone lenses.
The moment you walk through the R&D center’s main doors you will be greeted by Hyundai’s museum of cars (including those of Kia) and automotive technology.
Fortunately, we were temporarily allowed to take photos inside the museum. Below is the Hyundai Pony, Korea’s first mass-produced car.
Hyundai EQUUS by Hermes:
Only three of these were made. I was told that the hand-stitched leather interior smells like Hermes bags.
After the quick tour around the museum, we were taken inside a wind tunnel where Hyundai engineers test a car’s aerodynamic properties. We were able to experience a 50kph wind inside the tunnel which is the kind of wind speed you sometimes experience during a typhoon here in the Philippines.
We asked the engineer to crank up the wind speed but he would only allow that if we leave the tunnel to ensure our safety. We were also given a tour of the tracks where Hyundai test their cars to see how it would behave in different road conditions.
Afterwards, Casey Hyun, the Creative Design Manager of Hyundai, gave us a quick presentation about the company’s Fluidic Sculpture which is about designing a car that is more human, fluid, and dynamic. The first Hyundai car to sport the new Fluidic Sculpture 2.0 is the 2015 Hyundai Genesis.
One of Hyundai’s concept cars, the Venace:
Here’s Casey Hyun explaining how their designers create scale models of prototypes:
These models are actually made of a special clay that are sculpted into the desired shape of a car. Designers can make a life-sized model out of it during final stages of the design process.
Hyundai car designers are given enough freedom when designing cars. When asked why prototypes look different from actual produced cars, Mr. Hyun explained that designers still need to adhere to automotive safety regulations which affects the car’s final design.
Here we are sitting next to Byung Seob Lee, the Vice President of Hyundai Styling Group. He’s like the Jony Ive of Hyundai.
When asked if Hyundai is a conservative or an aggressive type when it comes to design, he said, if I remember correctly, that Hyundai can easily shift to being conservative to aggressive depending on the market.
After the Q&A with Byun Seob Lee and Casey Hyun, Hyundai gave us a quick briefing about the company’s brand strategy. It basically explained why Hyundai needs to improve on its brand awareness because “consumers buy not only products, they buy brands.” Currently, Hyundai is pushing for the Modern Premium brand – “a volume brand that can deliver pride to its customers through premium experiences and values.”