Cars’ net gain

Con­cept mod­els fo­cus on the tech, writes Craig Duff in Detroit

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Onroad -

THE South Kore­ans used a pair of up­starts to up­stage their hosts at the 2011 Detroit Mo­tor Show. Kia’s KV7 and the Hyundai Curb were two of the more rad­i­cal ve­hi­cles by main­stream mak­ers and both gave point­ers to the fu­ture di­rec­tions of the brands.

They also showed the next bat­tle for cus­tomers’ cash will be based as much on soft­ware suites and in­ter­net ac­cess as en­gine per­for­mance and styling.

All of the car­mak­ers — and most of the parts sup­pli­ers, from Denso to Harman Kar­don — at the US show were tout­ing their ap­proach to telem­at­ics and web ac­cess, but the South Korean duo took it to the ex­tremes.

The KV7 was purely a con­cept ve­hi­cle — wooden floor­ing and swivel seats don’t usu­ally make the tran­si­tion into pro­duc­tion — but the boxy ac­tiv­ity van show­cased a range of ideas that could soon be seen on reg­u­lar mod­els.

Lead­ing the way was a PCpow­ered soft­ware suite that con­trolled the on-board in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem and acted as a wi-fi hub.

That gave the track­ball­con­trolled front screen and huge rear table­top touch screen in­ter­net ac­cess as well as en­sur­ing all pas­sen­gers can con­nect their An­droid mo­bile phones or iPhone/iTouch to the web.

The boxy style of the KV7 is based on the Koup but uses a pas­sen­ger-side gull­wing door for easy ac­cess to the rear seats.

The con­cept was pow­ered by the new Theta II 2-litre tur­bocharged di­rect-in­jec­tion en­gine which is good for 213kW and Kia says fuel use is only 7.8 litres for 100km based on the US high­way test cy­cle.

Over at the Hyundai stand the Curb had a con­ven­tional two-door ex­te­rior, though with cam­eras re­plac­ing the side mir­rors, and the ma­chine rode high on mas­sive 22.5-inch rims.

But it was in­side where most at­ten­tion lay, with an acrylic touch screen flow­ing from the dash clus­ter to the cen­tre con­sole and across into the pas­sen­ger area. It was paired with mon­i­tors in the back of the head­rests.

A heads-up dis­play projects nav­i­ga­tion onto the screen and is linked to the ex­te­rior cam­eras.

The screen can also show ve­hi­cle di­ag­nos­tics, down­load apps and act as a video phone.

‘‘The goal was to make sure pas­sen­gers felt con­nected to each other and the ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment around them,’’ Bradley Arnold, Curb in­te­rior de­signer, says.

The Gen-Y tar­geted ma­chine uses Hyundai’s Blue Link soft­ware to pro­vide in-car so­cial net­work­ing.

Calls from friends can be re­ceived and the sys­tem then shows their lo­ca­tion on the sat­nav.

More mun­danely, the sys­tem en­ables re­mote lock­ing and un­lock­ing of the car, no­ti­fies the driver when the ve­hi­cle’s di­ag­nos­tics de­tect a prob­lem and can be set to cre­ate a speed alert and con­nect to the in­ter­net to ac­cess traf­fic up­dates and nearby points of in­ter­est. More Detroit pho­tos, Pages 30-31.

Hi-tech: (above) in­side the Kia KV7 and (left) the Hyundai Curb.

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