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Hyundai ute could be a ‘game changer’: designer

Pencil it in: While Hyundai is undecided about a ute, one of its star designers is keen to see it happen.

Expat Aussie who designed latest Genesis shows just how important ute is for Hyundai


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4 Jun 2015

HYUNDAI Motor Co senior designer, expatriate Australian Casey Hyun, has provided a glimpse of the styling direction the South Korean car-maker is taking with its long-anticipated ute, sketching the concept for Australian journalists at a workshop in Sydney this week.

Born in Sydney, only a few streets away from Hyundai Motor Co Australia’s head office in North Ryde, Mr Hyun turned out a number of sketches along the same lines as the Santa Cruz concept unveiled at the Detroit motor show earlier this year – a likely precursor to a production model that he described as a “game changer” for the brand.

“It will be, I think, one of those game changers in terms of design,” Mr Hyun said of the utility.

“I understand and appreciate the place it (the utility) has here, and if there is a place and an opportunity for me to do it (design a production ute), I’ll do it, absolutely.”

As GoAuto has reported, the Santa Cruz concept was described at its unveiling as a “completely new interpretation of pick-up utility for a new generation of buyers”.

While not appearing to be a rugged utility in the same vein as the market-leading Toyota HiLux and Australian-developed Ford Ranger – among many others in the high-volume segment – the Santa Cruz Pickup was reason enough for HMCA chief operating officer John Elsworth to enthuse that “the market opportunities for a Hyundai utility vehicle globally are very real, not least in Australia”.

“We have no doubt a tough, good-looking Hyundai ute will be popular with Australians,” he said.

“This is a concept vehicle and we do not make decisions about which cars to bring to market – those decisions are in the hands of our parent company in Korea.

“However, we’ve made our enthusiasm for a ute very clear – it surely has enormous potential – and we look forward to seeing how things progress in the near future.”

Mr Hyun, whose resume includes cars as diverse as the India-only Eon, the previous Sonata and the current Genesis, reviewed the Santa Cruz concept with global design chief Peter Schreyer prior to its Detroit premiere, and told GoAuto this week that he was pleased with the result.

“I think it’s a very well-done vehicle,” he said.

Mr Hyun studied at London’s Royal College of the Arts and has form in the area of utility design.

“My master’s degree in the UK was a pick-up, and my professor could not understand why I spent nine months drawing a truck,” he said.

“Some of the aspects of the ute that I always thought that we could do a little bit better was to give it a bit of emotion.”

Mr Hyun also said that Hyundai’s latest school of design language, known as Fluidic Sculpture 2.0, will continue to be rolled out across the line-up.

The forthcoming Tucson and the current Genesis are examples of the revised language, which does away with the two-tier grille identification system seen previously across large cars and SUVs and the smaller models in the range.

“We are improving on the emotional aspect of our design,” he said. “Finishes, material, the way we use them … it will all be part of the next stage of our design language, which is already in train.”

Mr Hyun was in Sydney this week to present a lecture on design-driven brand transformation at the Sydney Vivid Festival.

He is also a fan of the unique Australian car-based ute, which is set to die out with the discontinuation of Ford’s Falcon Ute next year and the Commodore-based Holden Ute in 2017.

“On a very personal level, before utes die out, I want to go and buy one,” he said.

“I’ve grown up here, and I look at things like the Holden (HSV) Maloo and think, ‘That’s a pretty good design.’ It’s just with you.

“We had a joke with the HMCA guys just this morning, that if you had some money, I could do a show ute for you!”

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