Pinch me

Hyundai's Tesla-shaming Prophecy is actually going into production

The concept car is expected to replace the current Ioniq and arrive in 2021.

You may recall our breathless enthusiasm at the pebble-like Hyundai Prophecy that was meant to be on display in Geneva this year before the event was, like every other, canceled due to the coronavirus. Now a report out of Auto Express suggests the Korean automaker will be bringing the Prophecy to life alongside the equally beguiling 45 concept the company showed off in Frankfurt in 2019.

Elements of the Prophecy are expected to make their way into the replacement for one of Hyundai’s existing EVs, the Ioniq (which currently comes in conventional hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and fully-electric iterations). Whatever shape the Prophecy takes, it’s not expected to roll off production lines until 2021, but that’s fine with us. First, we’ve got nowhere to be. Second, we’re happy to wait if the production model looks even half as good as the concept.

The Hyundai Prophecy's interior mixes tartan patterns and audio equalizer-like illumination.Hyundai

Some elements of the Prophecy will necessarily have to change if its to make it past legislators and onto the asphalt. For a start, we expect the joystick-like controls will be ditched in favor of a steering wheel. But here’s hoping the blue tartan interior and spacious cabin make the cut. While Hyundai’s at it, we’d love to see it downsize the gaudy marque it stuck on the hood of the otherwise enchanting concept version.

The Prophecy's profile.Hyundai

That’s quite a consolation prize — Before the Prophecy sees the light of day we’re expecting to see another of Hyundai’s concepts come to life: the 45, which is based on the company's 1974 Pony Coupe Concept. Hyundai says that design will form the basis of a forthcoming electric SUV. Where the Prophecy is all gleaming curves and high-gloss, the 45 is angular and decked out in a muted palette.

The cars couldn’t be more different — the 45 takes its cues from '20s aircraft, while the Prophecy's inspiration is '30s coupes — and it’s hard to believe they come from the same company, let alone share the same underlying platform, but Hyundai’s said it wants to steer away from what it calls the “Russian Doll” approach many automakers are prone to, where they prize continuity so fiercely it results in design homogeneity. The only obvious connection between Hyundai's two concepts is the pixel-style headlights that appear on each.

The Hyundai 45 EV concept is far more angular than its smooth-faced stablemate.Hyundai
The 45 is no less striking from the side, though.Hyundai
The 45's pixel-style headlights.Hyundai

One base, many toppings — Part of what makes it possible for these new models to be so distinctive yet still financially viable to produce is Hyundai’s move late last year to partner — alongside Kia — with Los Angeles-based company Canoo to use its skateboard-like platform as the basis of future EVs. The platform enables differentiated EV designs atop a flexible base that lends itself to customization.

If you’d asked us which car company would release the most daring designs for mass-market automobiles in 2020 a year ago we wouldn’t have guessed Hyundai would be in the running, let alone leading the pack. But here we are. This year continues to surprise us. At least in this instance, it's a pleasant one.

Why open when you can slide?Hyundai