It hasn’t even started selling cars in Australia but Hyundai’s luxury brand, Genesis, is already designing its cars with an autonomous future in mind.
According to the South Korean car maker’s vision of the future, drivers will be relegated to the back seat and cars will take on a new shape to account for the addition of some features and the elimination of others.
The GV80 concept revealed at the 2017 New York motor show features slimline quad-slit headlights, which are designed to perform the job of illuminating the road but not dominate the frontal design or provide the ‘eyes’ on the car’s face.
“We’re reducing the size because we are anticipating the fact that slowly cars won’t need ‘eyes’ any more,” says the man who created the GV80 concept, Genesis design boss Luc Donckerwolke.
Paving the way for future Genesis models from 2019, the GV80 is preparing for a world that may not become a reality until 2025 or later.
But while other car makers have made large headlights a design feature – and one that can define the frontal look of the car – Genesis wants to focus on other design elements, including the grille.
“That function will certainly disappear in the future because when you have autonomous cars you don’t need lights,” says Donckerwolke, pointing to the legendary Bugatti Royale Esders Roadster, a car from the 1930s with no headlights.
“One of the best cars in the history of car design, the Bugatti Royale from Esders, which didn’t have lights. This was one of the most fascinating designs.
“Not having the typical lights as eyes will not be a drawback.”
Genesis boss Manfred Fitzgerald said implementing autonomous tech on upcoming Genesis models is not a priority, but the brand would tap into parent company Hyundai’s technology when the time is right.
“Autonomous driving has its place … it just remains to be seen where and when we will include this,” said Fitzgerald.
“For me the priority right now is establishing this brand by showing cars that are desirable.”
Alongside Fitzgerald and the expanding Genesis team, Donckerwolke has spent a year defining the themes that will be rolled out on to many of the six future Genesis models planned; they include three sedans, a grand tourer coupe and two SUVs.
“When you are doing the next generation of product ... your impulse is basically guided by the past,” says Donckerwolke of established luxury brands, suggesting Genesis has an advantage by starting from scratch.
“What we are doing here is creating the first step. Every step is we do is designing the legacy of the brand.”
However, the upcoming G70 four-door – a car planned to arrive here late in 2017 and compete against the BMW 3-Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4, among others – will not pick up the new styling themes.
The design of that car was signed off prior to Donckerwolke joining the company, so will maintain much of the look revealed by the New York Concept unveiled in 2016.
The first car to adopt the new look will be the production version of the GV80, due in 2019.