The 21st century has been particularly kind to the Hyundai Motor Company, though this was hardly a matter of chance. Originally known in the West for providing bargain automobiles that were surprisingly competent, it wasn’t long before the South Korean brand was giving Japanese mainstays stiff competition. By the early 2000s, Hyundai was working hard to differentiate itself from the recently acquired Kia and opted to make its products more luxurious and saw massive gains in the U.S. market that have more-or-less continued until today.
While automotive enthusiasts have mixed opinions on the cultural clout of electric vehicles, there’s one aspect of electrification that’s undeniably cool — the resto-mod potential. Despite the historic appeal of driving around in vintage automobiles, they’re often painfully slow with ridiculously long braking distances and a lack of standard features many people living today would deem unacceptable. If you don’t believe me, select a random friend and ask them to parallel park a car without power steering or automatic transmission. Chuck in maintenance costs that are often well above average and it’s little wonder why so many Baby Boomers have been spending their retirement years outfitting the classic-era (or older) cars they grew up with with modern conveniences and components.
But we’ve also started seeing manufacturers (and even some intrepid entrepreneurs) taking the foundational concepts of resto-modding and adding electric propulsion. Some executions even seem to be pushing the boundaries of what we could effectively call automotive restoration, like Hyundai’s Pony Heritage EV.
Hyundai is bringing a retro-future concept vehicle to the Frankfurt Motor Show next month. Called the 45, the car appears to be an electrified hatchback and has the stated mission of helping the brand shape future EV designs. While we’ve only seen a single teaser image of the model thus far, we like where this is heading.
The automaker says the 45 was “inspired by looking back at the brand’s first model in the 1970s,” meaning the Ford Cortina is (and probably always was) off the table. The South Korean manufacturer is likely referencing the rear-drive Pony subcompact. It certainly appears to be the correct shape and the taillight location is similar enough for us not to rule it out. However, the total package seems to be more inspired by the DeLorean DMC-12 and 1980s concepts like the Citroën Karin or Ford Maya.
A year and a half ago, I drove the new-for-2015 Hyundai Sonata in the “Limited” trim. I thought it was a solid, if not particularly exciting, choice in the increasingly unimportant family-sedan market. During that same press trip, Hyundai gave me a chance to drive the “Sport” and “Eco” trims of the Sonata, but there was no base-model inventory on hand. That wasn’t by accident, and it’s also not unusual. Offering up a no-options car to journosaurs who are continually spoiled by first-class flights and metallic-looking chocolates in the form of the “Ruf” logo is a great way to wind up as the target of a Burgess wobble.
Imagine my joy, then, when I stepped off my (coach-class) flight in Portland last month and found a Sonata SE waiting for me. My itinerary, which was centered around The 1 Show but which would also include a 140-mile freeway jaunt to Salem, OR and back, promised to be just the ticket for a truly independent evaluation, TTAC-rental style. After all, some cars are pretty decent in all of their various and varied variants, while others can’t cut the mustard without the big motor and upscale options. Where does the Sonata SE fall on this spectrum?
Americans are a forgiving sort, and redemption from sin is just the right gesture away. Well, that applies more to politicians and celebrities than to car companies. It can be a little more challenging to overcome the damage from a poor quality car, especially if you’re the brand new kid on the block. Just ask Yugo; they quickly walked away. As did Peugeot, Alfa, Fiat and countless other imports, even though they had been around for decades. But the Koreans are a tough and determined folk, and when they got their less-than Excellent head handed to them on a platter, they dug in their heels and figured out what it would take to be given a second chance.
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- Jwee I think it is short sighted and detrimental to the brand. The company should be generous to its locked-in user base, treating them as a resource, not a revenue stream.This is what builds any good relationship, generosity to the other partner. Apple does with their products. My iPhone is 5 years old, but I keep getting the latest and greatest updates for free, which makes me feel valued as a customer and adds actual value. When it is time for a new phone, Apple past treatment towards me certainly plays into my decisions (as did BMW's - so long subscription extracting pigs, its been a great 20 years). Imagine how much good will and love (and good press) Polestar would get from their user base if they gave them all a "68 fresh horses" update overnight, for free. Brand loyalty would soar (provided their car is capable).
- ToolGuy If I had some space I would offer $800 and let the vehicle sit at my place as is. Then when anyone ever asked me, "Have you ever considered owning a VW?" I would say "Yes."
- ToolGuy In the example in the linked article an automated parking spot costs roughly 3% of the purchase price of the property. If I were buying such a property, I would likely purchase two parking spots to go with it, and I'm being completely serious.(Speaking of ownership vs. subscription, the $150 monthly maintenance fee would torque me off a lot more than the initial acquisition cost.)
- ToolGuy "which will be returned as refunds to citizens of the state" - kind of like the Alaska Permanent Fund? Make the amount high enough and I will gladly move to California to take advantage (my family came close to moving there when I was a teen, and oodles of people have moved from CA to my state, so I'm happy to return the favor).Note to California: You probably do not want me as a citizen.
- ToolGuy Nice torque figure.