Among the long and diverse lexicon of automaker speak is the term “future mobility,” which is generally a nice way to say that the world is going to be flooded from global warming, all major cities will be overpopulated, and our dystopia will run rampant as we run out of oil and can no longer sustain life as usual–and we need to create an alternative car.
Or something like that.
Hyundai, for all of the talk of future mobility, has created an internal contest for its workers called the IDEA Festival that seeks to rectify the problem of getting around in a big city. Over the last three years, it has created a theme at its South Korean headquarters for engineers to meet. Last year’s was personal mobility. This year’s is “R&D for Customers,” focusing on how to meet customers’ future needs, perhaps with in-car infotainment solutions. We don’t know yet, as idea submissions for the 2013 contest are due this month. But if they’re anything like the 2012 festival, they’re going to be a little out there.
The most notable winning “solution” was the E4U egg car, which is designed for narrow roads and can pivot and spin. It’s also notable because it looks like Pikachu. The E4U is an electric-powered and can reach a maximum speed of 15 mph. In case you’re wondering about the “E4″ part of its name, that stands for Egg, Evolution, Electricity, and Eco-Friendliness.
Other winners included a multi-rotor flying car that looks like a drone military aircraft, a spare tire electric bike that can help re-mobilize your car in an emergency, a portable, brain-controlled car (Meet George Jetson…), a five-jointed car for tight maneuverability, a road car/bike that recognizes the owner’s voice and will change with voice commands, and a wind bike.
Are any of these likely to end up on the 2017 Hyundai Sonata? You wish. But they do show us that Hyundai’s engineers can put together some crazy ideas; that there’s some life left for them to keep coming out with new and different things. Let’s hope Hyundai’s suspension and steering engineers are let out of their cages to build things like these once in a while, too. They could use it.