HYUNDAI IONIQ SEVEN ELECTRIC SUV CONCEPT DEBUTS IN LA WITH SOFA-STYLE THIRD ROW, 77-INCH ROOF DISPLAY

It’s not just Kia that has unveiled a new electric SUV concept at the LA Auto Show 2021 – parent company Hyundai has also taken the wraps off its brand-new electric vehicle (EV) concept, and it’s named the Hyundai Ioniq Seven. Billed a ‘category bending proposition, the Hyundai Ioniq Seven is pretty radical even by concept standards. While it looks like it’s far away from being production-ready at this point, it does provide a glimpse of Hyundai’s future flagship electric SUV – or SUEV, as Hyundai is calling it.

Unlike the Kia EV9 (which it shares its mechanicals with), the Hyundai Ioniq Seven adopts a notably different design language. While the EV9 is all angular and sharp-edged, the Ioniq Seven is softer and more rounded without compromising visual muscle. At around five metres in length, two metres in width and 1.8 metres in height, the Ioniq Seven is bigger than Hyundai’s biggest combustion engine SUV at present – the Hyundai Palisade – so it is an imposing SUV and will have plenty of presence. Its wheelbase (3,200 mm) is substantially longer than the Palisade’s and is almost identical to that of the long-wheelbase Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

Exterior highlights include the ‘Parametric Pixel’ lights up front, chunky five-spoke alloys with integrated ‘Active Air’ flaps, which deploy or retract for brake cooling and low-drag purposes, respectively, abandoning cameras that replace wing mirrors, beefy wheel arches, pillarless coach doors, a sloping roofline and an almost-bread van-like tail section, which ends with an all-glass tailgate encased by pixel-like tail-lights. All in, the Ioniq Seven looks quite attractive on the outside.

It’s on the inside where the Ioniq Seven is truly pathbreaking – and even more, concept-like, which is to say that most of these elements are unlikely to make it to the production model. While it is a three-row SUV, Hyundai has chosen to break away from the established seating layout and equipped the SUV with swivelling lounge-style chairs for the driver and front passenger (which can also be moved fore and aft), a dedicated footrest housing a 27-inch screen as well as a ‘shoe care’ shelf and a curved sofa-style seat that stretches from the third row to the second row.

There is no steering wheel inside the Ioniq Seven – it’s replaced by a joystick that stows away into the driver’s seat when not needed. The space liberated on the dashboard is used for a full-length infotainment display and a storage shelf. Also part of the package is a giant, 77-inch ceiling display for entertainment purposes, a built-in refrigerator, tube-type ambient lighting lamps placed in the doors, aircraft-style interior ventilation (with horizontal and vertical airflow controls to prevent cross-contamination between vehicle occupants), a panoramic air purifier as well as UVC lighting, which engages once passengers step out, to sterilize the vehicle’s interior.

To lend it more of a home interior feel, Hyundai has used materials such as copper, bamboo wood, mineral plaster, and recycled fabric and included shelves to store odds and ends. It’s safe to say that while a lot of these elements are promising and forward-looking, safety regulations may prevent them from carrying over into production.

Based on the scalable E-GMP architecture that also underpins the Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6 and the EV9 Concept, the Hyundai Ioniq Seven concept has a range of over 480 kilometres on a full charge. Thanks to its 800-volt architecture, the Seven is said to go from 10 to 80 per cent charge in just 20 minutes when plugged into a 350 kW DC fast charger. The production version of the Ioniq Seven is likely to get a large battery (close to 80 kWh capacity) and a dual-motor setup with varying power outputs, depending on the variant.

It remains to be seen if the production-spec Ioniq Seven – expected to debut in 2023 – will replace any of Hyundai’s existing combustion engine SUVs or if it will be offered as a standalone model under the Ioniq sub-brand. At present, the only Hyundai EV on sale in India is the Kona Electric. While there’s no official communication on the same, the production Ioniq Seven may end up being introduced in India after its global launch, as it would be the perfect halo model for Hyundai’s SUV portfolio.

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