Wednesday, September 7, 2011


I was doing some research the other day and I discovered a peculiar trend; it was the sort of thing you don't realize unless you look very closely. I noted that some of the most dependable vehicles around the world today are sourced from global firms that were founded/created on a very small island... called Japan [the home of "Karate"]. Historically, Japanese people are an off-shoot of the larger East Asian mainland, China [the traditional hub of "Kung Fu"].

Despite their geographic closeness to China, the history of the Japanese island nation and its innate culture are extremely unique. The Anime craze that has swept the Western and European World since the late 1990s and 2000s was due to animation studios in Japan, who kept converting popular Manga works into fluent cartoons. But some cool otakus don't realize that "Jap-an-ime" dates back to the 70s. And the original 1980s Thundercats Cartoon was actually a product inspired greatly by anime.

Beyond producing fascinating 2D and 3D cartoon works, the people of Japan are also ingenuous designers capable of contriving a host of automobile wonders. The following mega-corporations are all originally based in Japan, regardless of the fact that they have Overseas / American HQs: Toyota-Lexus, Honda-Acura, Nissan-Infiniti [Datsun], Mitsubishi, Mazda, Sony, Panasonic, Fuji, Sumitomo, Hitachi and Yamaha [a firm that started building pianos/organs in the 1880s long before they made motorcycles and electronics] . Yet Hyundai is excluded from that group.

Hyundai Inc. is actually a South Korean firm and it was founded back in 1947 by a guy named Chung Ju-yung [one of the most famous and affluent businessmen in  Korean history, and his company was originally a construction firm]. Hyundai Motor Company [they build the cars] and Hyundai Heavy Industries [they built ships for bulk transportation] are probably the two most popular branches of Hyundai Incorporated. Located in East Asia, the South Korean people are also tied to China by genealogy and ancestral roots, although they are regarded as a sovereign state, along with North Korea. Take a look at the sampled world map and you'll see the cluster of countries in East Asia that I've been referring too.

And today we'll look at the Hyundai I-flow and the Mazda Furai.

The Mazda Furai concept sports car was revealed on December 27 back in 2007. It has cool butterfly doors and a race car-inspired rear spoiler. And in Japanese language, "Furai" means "sound of the wind". It is powered by a 450HP R20B 3-rotor engine designed by Racing Beat Inc. The concept car has an M4 layout, meaning that its Mid-Engine / Four-Wheel Drive layout places the combustion engine in the middle of the vehicle chassis, between both axles - thus the engine drives all four of the wheels, resulting in increased torque, traction and power. The Lamborghini MurciƩlago also uses the M4 configuration.

And check out this Youtube Video featuring the test drive of the Mazda Furai!

And making its global debut back in the 2010 Geneva Motor Show, the Hyundai I-Flow shown below [which looks more street-legal than the Furai in terms of its design] is a fascinating fusion of conceptual ideas from the Korean firm, although it was drafted / designed European designers. Not much has been said about the performance specs of this vehicle, but it definitely looks fascinating.

This concept car carries forward the Hyundai Motor Company's evocative new form language, 'fluidic sculpture'. It hosts Hyundai's first diesel hybrid powertrain and its aerodynamic shape is a testament to refinement and passionate evocative design.


During an interview last year, Thomas Buerkle, Chief Designer at Hyundai Motor Europe, appraised the design concept of the i-flow [or the HED-7], the seventh in a series of daring concept cars to be born in the overseas Russelsheim [a town in Germany] styling studio:

"The sense of agility and focused aerodynamics is further enforced by the glass roof., with its semi-transparent dye-sensitized solar cells connecting the front and rear screens to create an integral design unit. The roof and door glazing blend to form a unified shell, undercutting the floating C-pillar to produce an undisturbed, aerodynamic canopy. These daring, refined details complement the Hyundai i-flow Concept's overall appearance to culminate in a bold design statement which advances Hyundai's fluidic sculpture philosophy."


I underlined "Fluidic" twice, because technically it's not a word... although I kept finding it in the paragraphs presented on the Web by the Hyundai marketing staff. In my opinion, the Hyundai designers should probably tie that term into a slogan and get it trademarked before someone else does...

More Concept Cars in the Blog Archives:

The cool Alfa Romeo Pandion Concept Car:

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