Proof that the EU has officially caught the SUV bug can be found in the number of production or concept SUVs making their Geneva debut. Among the most interesting of them came right out of Hyundai Motor Europe’s Design and Technical Center, in corroboration with General Electric: the QarmaQ crossover. The QarmaQ has just two doors and seriously high ground clearance. It's almost completely recyclable, very light in weight, and rather good-looking. One could say their “qarma” is good.
Actually, the QarmaQ derives its name “from traditional Inuit dwellings, constructed from earth, whalebone, and animal skins” and was so named to reflect the use of unconventional materials for conventional objects. GE Plastic’s involvement evidently allowed designers to create complex shapes inside and out that wouldn’t have been possible with conventional materials such as metal and glass. For example, sheetmetal for the body panels was rejected in favor of plastic, and paint was eliminated in favor of color molded in.
Among GE Plastic’s most interesting contributions is the “glazing” technology that replaces window and windshield glass with a polycarbonate resin, allowing a panoramic wrap-around greenhouse that reaches down into the door in a C-shape arrangement. To resist scratching, a thin layer of glass is actually integrated onto the element. The technology is said to cut weight in half compared with standard glass.
Hyundai also claims the plastics enabled engineers to creatively meet or in some cases exceed safety requirements. Among the QarmaQ’s claims to fame is its “Elastic Front” design, utilizing advanced and strategically placed plastics to make the vehicle’s front end as pedestrian-friendly as the front end of any car could be.
The QarmaQ is powered by Hyundai’s 2.0-liter diesel four-cylinder engine that meets strict EURO5 standards for emissions.
Inside the four-place interior, the driver sits in a pod-like structure. Many controls are activated by touch sensors or glowing, floating elements. LEDs, silicone-imbibed leather, and cool aluminum contribute equally to the QarmaQ’s interior mystique.
Now, will they make such a thing? Well, Hyundai claims some 30 technologies developed for the QarmaQ will be phased in between next year and 2014.
As for the vehicle itself, Hyundai calls the QarmaQ a “totally relevant concept” that “underlines the commitment of Hyundai to design innovation in this market sector.” Still, we’ve seen a lot of other automakers put their spin on this “totally relevant concept,” sometimes resulting in bland five-door cute utes but more often producing no results at all. Sure, we would love to see a cool crossover coupe finally make it to market, but we’ll believe it when we see it.