Hyundai Previews an Extremely Subcompact EV

Hyundai’s latest and smallest EV will land in a long-neglected segment: the sub-sub-subcompact convertible, with the automaker taking the wraps off a a scaled-down version of its “45” concept. The full-size version made its debut at the Frankfurt motor show in 2019, showcasing Hyundai’s latest design direction and electric powertrain technology, and now it has been transformed into an EV for those too young to get a real driver’s license.

Powered by two 24-volt DC motors that give it a 4.3-mph top speed, and featuring a centrally positioned driver’s seat in a nod to motorsport ergonomics, the wee 45 concept still features a relatively high ride height but very little room for cargo. Rather than being made out of metal or plastic, the 54.3-inch long body panels were milled from wood in keeping with the green theme of the 45 concept itself — something that could be difficult to achieve in a production version.

“Hyundai’s designers adapted the signature ‘kinetic cube lamp’ design of ’45’ along with its angular yet smooth profile to create this yet-to-be-named EV that sports a Performance Blue exterior color with orange accents,” the automaker said.

Hyundai is still mum on the range and battery specs, but the range should be plenty for the owners’ commutes around the yard.

But let’s not forget this is an underserved demographic, one that has had to put up with garish exterior designs and very inexpensive interiors for quite some time, with vehicles in this segment being built to a price. Fisher-Price. Hyundai could be seeking to put design front and center when it comes to this segment, while previewing EV tech that is making its way into larger vehicles.

Perhaps the most innovative piece of tech, even aside from miniature EV drivetrain, is what the automaker calls Emotion Adaptive Vehicle Control (EAVC) technology, able to read the driver’s mood via a small camera, and adjust the vehicle’s systems accordingly.

Will this be something parents of very small drivers will be able to buy?

Perhaps. Hyundai says that it will soon reveal more details about how this EV will provide “a unique mobility experience for young customers.” If Hyundai or a specialist toymaker could launch this as a low-volume offering, the wooden body panels might have to be traded for something a little more industrial to keep costs down. But plastic is certainly more difficult to scratch or dent than painted wood.

This is perhaps the best ub-sub-subcompact convertible segment news since Mitsuoka gave some free publicity to the Moskvitch pedal car of the 1970s and 1980s — a heavier, metal-bodied design styled after the Moskvitch 408.

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