At the Geneva International Motor Show today, Hyundai Motor Co. and GE Plastics presented QarmaQ, a first in the Crossover Coupe segment. QarmaQ is Hyundai's Advanced Technology Demonstration Vehicle (ATDV) that showcases over 30 different environmentally progressive technologies led by the innovative "Elastic Front*", an innovative solution that can help reduce the risk of severe injuries in Crossover Utility Vehicles (CUV) pedestrian collisions.
Designed at Hyundai Motor Europe's Design and Technical Center in Russelsheim and engineered in close cooperation with GE Plastics, QarmaQ develops and validates over 30 key technologies, which will be selectively incorporated into Hyundai's new models to be rolled out from 2008-2014.
"At Hyundai, we believe in innovation for humanity, and QarmaQ demonstrates our commitment to safety innovation and our determination to bring more environmentally responsible technologies to the market," said Dr. Kwon Moon-Shik, Hyundai Motor's vice president of Advanced Technology. "We chose to partner with GE Plastics because of their commitment to the environment and their wide range of innovative materials and technical capabilities. Technologies from QarmaQ will provide Hyundai owners with a safer, more environmentally responsible car and a better driving experience."
QarmaQ is lighter, stronger and more economical than any current production CUV in its class. It also offers significant recycling advantages both in construction and eventual disassembly. In short, it is a viable and realistic glimpse of the future potential of personal automotive transport.
The issue of pedestrian safety is a growing one. In the EU, one-fifth of all traffic fatalities - 7,000 people per year - are pedestrians hit by a vehicle. In densely populated Korea, the rate is as high as 39 percent. QarmaQ's Elastic Front safety system, which encompasses the whole front end of the vehicle, is arguably the world's first global pedestrian protection solution on a CUV. Three energy-absorbing structures are fully integrated underneath the futuristic styling of QarmaQ and this system takes advantage of several advanced materials that offer inherent energy absorbing properties. QarmaQ's body panels have been designed to work in concert with energy-absorbing systems on the underside of these panels to manage and dissipate the force of a pedestrian/CUV collision. The Elastic Front has been engineered to meet EEVC WG17 Phase2, Euro NCAP, and JNCA pedestrian impact requirements and is currently undergoing testing for final validation.
A totally relevant concept
The Hyundai QarmaQ concept car is the result of the fusion of exceptional expertise and engineering foresight from Hyundai and GE Plastics. More than a design concept, QarmaQ illustrates that environmentally responsible solutions can be elegantly incorporated to enhance safety, design, and performance.
"GE Plastics is committed to developing greener, lighter, and aesthetically pleasing solutions to support our customers in creating vehicles with reduced environmental impact," said Gregory A. Adams, vice president and general manager, GE Plastics, Automotive. "We are delighted to have collaborated with Hyundai and we believe that working together we helped them develop an exciting new CUV that demonstrates greater environmental responsibility as well as improved safety, dramatic design, and high performance."
Firmly positioned as a crossover Coupe/CUV, the QarmaQ derives its name from traditional Inuit dwellings, constructed from earth, whalebone, and animal skins. Like them, QarmaQ challenges conventional ideas on construction methods and materials. Also in common with the original structures, it boasts unusual strength, resilience, and protection.
By combining leading edge design, advanced engineering techniques and the benefits of GE materials technology, the QarmaQ demonstrates the ability to meet necessary, but problematic areas of legislation dealing with pedestrian safety and eco-responsibility.
The choice of a crossover coupe/CUV format for QarmaQ underlines the commitment of Hyundai to design innovation in this market sector. With Santa Fe, Tucson, and Veracruz, Hyundai created pioneering vehicles.
This 2+2 vehicle targets the important empty nest baby boomers demographic, who are rediscovering a new-found freedom while remaining the wealthiest demographic in history. Today, this key group of consumers is beginning to spend their nest egg and enjoy the fruits of their labour, not on material possessions, but on experiences. QarmaQ soulfully blends the driving experience of a Coupe with the ability to manage multi-terrain driving of a CUV, providing empty nesters with effortless access to their outdoor playground.
Design: Freedom of shape
As a joint project with GE Plastics, QarmaQ endowed designers with greater expressive freedom to create complex three-dimensional shapes that could not have been achieved with conventional production methods and materials such as metal and glass.
"The powerful profile and stance of the design incorporates dynamic, sculptural qualities and elegant sportiness on one hand, with smooth refined surfaces on the other," said Thomas B|rkle, chief designer, Hyundai Motor Europe. "Moreover, the various properties of the GE materials allowed more freedom in meeting or even exceeding safety requirements. The result is a uniquely balanced and harmonic design both inside and out," he added.
Departing from conventional car design that combines a lower body and a glass cabin on top, QarmaQ blazes a new trail with panoramic wrap-around glazing area using GE's Lexan* polycarbonate resin. This part sits between the two pronounced "muscles" above the front and rear wheels. The C-shaped side window enables innovative helicopter-like downward visibility and is a key design feature demonstrating the new glazing technology.
Exterior: Fluidity of line
Connected by unique glazed surfaces, the exterior design relates strongly to, and interacts effortlessly with the interior. The unique division between the solid bodywork and transparent glazed areas creates a new perspective, whether viewed from inside or from the pedestrian standpoint.
The exterior contours and fluidity of line have been refined to give an immediate impression of movement frozen in motion. This aesthetic is mirrored in the interior, so that the fusion and merging of the perceptual boundaries between inside and out delivers a feeling of integration and synchronization to the overall appearance.
Although QarmaQ does not have a high waistline or small window area (conventional methods to convey a feeling of protection), the exterior design still communicates a commanding presence and a feeling of protection to the occupants.
"The QarmaQ's exterior design communicates a commanding presence and a feeling of protection to the occupants," said Robert Butterfield, global market director, GE Plastics. "The twin domes on the sunroof, facilitated by the new glazing technology, increases the inner space for the rear passengers and creates a unique design feature." The wrap-around windscreen, in combination with the elongated bonnet delivers dramatic, almost classic, proportions and gives the car a unique sporty feeling. Finally, the contrast of the strong dark coloured areas to the lighter tonal areas emphasizes QarmaQ's off-road DNA.
In response to shrinking family sizes and emergent customer preferences, QarmaQ is specifically designed to carry four people in above average comfort. The extensive use of new materials and techniques has resul