The head of design for Hyundai says that autonomous and electric vehicles will likely adapt a non-aggressive design philosophy to suit their inherent nature going forward, with only the second-generation of these vehicles likely to deviate from the path.
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Talking to Australian media at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the South Korean brand’s head of design, Luc Donckerwolke (designer of the Lamborghini Gallardo and Murcielago), says that he learnt from Tesla that cars of the future don’t need to look all that different from today’s conventional cars.

“When Tesla brought the Model S (above), I was kind of disappointed that it wasn’t moving forward. Its styling was conservative and not aggressive, that it wasn’t moving forward. I learnt that I was wrong,”Donckerwolke admitted.

“When you’re changing the basic concept of powertrain you are already making consumers insecure. So we found out that you still have to be careful how you approach this big change of consuming automotive products, because customers have a certain inertia in accepting new ideas.”

Above, Below: Hyundai Ioniq Electric

Speaking about designing Hyundai’s electric and autonomous vehicles, Donckerwolke said that these cars need to adapt flowing designs to suit their image.

“At the same time we wanted a car because of the [electric] powertrain that was non aggressive... it’s a car with a lot of autonomous support, when you are driving an autonomous vehicle, it should not look like an aggressive race car - it should flow harmoniously. The whole design has to be non-aggressive and aerodynamic, pleasant and harmonized. When you’re driving a car which is silent, you don’t want optical noise, you want the same silence in the aesthetics as you have in the acoustics of the car.”

He conceded that other companies may take a different approach, but that it’s likely we will have to wait till the second generation of electric and autonomous cars to see the design freedoms that come with not having an internal combustion engine taking up valuable space.

“I think not all the cars are going to be that way, but the general cars that are fulfilling means of transportation are going to have non-aggressive styling. That doesn’t mean they won’t be emotional, but they will be a non-aggressive emotions that we will convey… I don’t want an [autonomous or electric] car looking like a Lamborghini.”

Tesla has adopted a similar design approach with its Model S, Model X and Model 3, however its recently unveiled new Roadster supercar takes a different approach to its current design philosophy.