Genesis, the luxury high end brand from Hyundai Motors, revealed its first hydrogen fuel-cell plug-in concept SUV at the New York International Auto Show earlier this week.
It is abundantly clear from this latest unveiling that aesthetic design is fundamental to the creation of Genesis’ GV80 Concept SUV, and is intended to further define the brand’s “athletic elegance”. The company also credits the GV80 with technological innovation as well as the focus on personal experience with which Genesis is fast becoming known for. Further to this, there will be dedicated brand stores opening throughout the US in the near future.
Adding to the sense of personal experience, the car has 22-inch curved OLED infinity displays which show two different viewpoints, one for the driver and one for the passenger. The interior features its Human Machine Interface (HMI), designed to offer users intuitive operation and function options via the capacitive touch controller.
The SUV features specially designed vents that will allow optimum cooling while the vehicle sits on 23 inch mesh alloy wheels which should reduce overall weight while also cooling the brake system.
Source: Genesis USA
The brand’s move away from ICE vehicles has not been totally unexpected; many speculated that a PHEV was likely, with the potential even for a pure EV. Yet, the nature of the fuel is a little unusual. Hydrogen fuel-cell plug-in vehicles have not yet come into production and the world’s first commercial vehicle was only announced last year. Mercedes-Benz had promised a hydrogen fuel-cell plug-in hybrid, based upon its GLC SUV model, to reach production this year but there are rumours that the endeavour has been abandoned.
The unwillingness of automakers to develop this technology above and beyond viable production standards is likely because of the high costs involved and the possibility of incompatibility between the two propulsion systems. Many simply don’t want to take a chance without an established market in place. Customers actually looking into buying a Genesis vehicle are unlikely to balk at a high price tag – the brand is luxurious after all – but it remains to be seen if the company’s beautiful design can entice people away from combustion engines.
It could be that the GV80 is simply a way for Genesis to show off its design prowess. Altogether, with the lack of actual driving specifications, it suggests that the car will never go into production. Instead, this concept sets the company apart when the time comes for it to properly concentrate on low and zero-emission vehicles. It appears that Genesis intends to take this route, considering what Head of Genesis Brand, Manfred Fitzgerald, had to add, “This concept is an important milestone for the brand to share our vision of the future, introducing a further expansion of our product portfolio.”
According to its press release, Genesis will continue to study the benefits of similar alternative propulsion systems and eco-friendly technologies for future product applications.
It seems that Genesis is following after the flush of high-end (and slightly unlikely) concepts which have hit autoshows recently. Automakers embracing new technologies and design is brilliant to see, but they run the risk of appearing gimmicky. Unfortunately, the GV80 may be another example of a car company creating buzz around its brand rather than actually committing to the development of viable, affordable zero-emission cars.