Hyundai Thinks Traditional Grille Design Becoming Irrelevant

Electric Vehicles / Comments

The traditional design element is no longer necessary, so other parts of the look becme more important.

Electric vehicles are changing the automotive industry, from supply chains to manufacturing operations. Vehicle design is changing, too, and Hyundai's design chief has some thoughts. In an interview with Car & Driver, SangYup Lee explained how his company's designs are changing in the world of EVs, starting with the grille.

Electric vehicles don't need the same cooling and ventilation systems without an internal combustion engine under the hood. Their noses can be enclosed entirely if desired, as some automakers have chosen, but Lee feels that his company's shift to electrification presents other design opportunities.

2020-2021 Hyundai Ioniq EV Front Angle View Hyundai 2020-2021 Hyundai Ioniq EV Front Bumper Hyundai Front View Hyundai
2020-2021 Hyundai Ioniq EV Front Angle View
2020-2021 Hyundai Ioniq EV Front Bumper
Front View

Hyundai's gas-powered vehicles are easily identified by their large grilles, and the automaker's latest designs highlight the component as a significant part of the overall look. New SUVs like the Tucson integrate LED lights into the grille with a unique and eye-catching pattern, and Lee feels that grilles remain an essential part of Hyundai's ICE vehicle designs.

At the same time, Lee notes that trying to shoehorn old-school styling elements into a world dominated by EVs is silly. "Having a traditional ICE element to carry to future, that's probably not the right move," he said. Instead, he feels that light signatures are more important. Looking at Hyundai's current and future vehicle lines, it's easy to see where that line of thinking comes into play.

Hyundai Front Angle View Hyundai Front Angle View Hyundai
Front Angle View
Front Angle View

The new Ioniq line, including the Ioniq 5, eschews the grille in favor of retro LED signature lights with a pixelated look. The theme makes an appearance in the Ioniq 6 and other concepts. Lee also noted that Hyundai wouldn't follow the fake grille trend set by other automakers as long as he's in charge. His previous employer, namely Bentley, is hamstrung by legacy and history, but Hyundai is free from those constraints.

Lee brings up an interesting point with these statements because EVs have changed vehicle assessment criteria on several fronts. Automakers' descriptions of vehicles are a great example, as some have shifted from listing power and torque figures to talking about the quietness and refinement, and playing up the virtues of new tech. In the absence of a noisy ICE powertrain, many EVs aim to deliver luxury and comfort over the visceral pleasures of a rumbling engine.

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Source Credits: Car and Driver

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