Original car occasions are usually fairly cringe, tubby of pointless pyrotechnics, impassive futurescapes, shameless pandering to “the early life,” or hapless CEO antics. (Bear in mind Elon Musk’s Cybertruck window smash fail? Extra effective instances.) So it’s miles with some level of hesitation that I must point you to this video from Hyundai as the latest declare in this ongoing series of “car companies latest depressing visions of the future.”
The video, which was released yesterday, was intended to reveal the swish-looking Ioniq 6, Hyundai’s latest electric car with a 77.4kWh battery and 379 miles of range. Instead we bought a smorgasbord of buzzwords — “trashion,” metaverse, NFTs — ideally aimed at appealing to a youthful demographic, but going about it in the worst imaginable way.
In the video, we’re introduced to an artist named Mia who’s putting on a “trashion reveal.” So relatable! For those no longer in the know (treasure me), trashion is the art of repurposing waste and recyclable materials — basically trash — as fashion. I’m no longer against this, but I beget ask whether or no longer a trashion artist treasure Mia can afford a brand unusual electric car, given the horrific dealer markups we’ve been seeing and the unsustainable loads of student debt folks in her demographic are laboring beneath. But I digress.
Mia makes consume of her Hyundai Ioniq 6 to traverse the eerily traffic-much less landscape looking for bottle tops and tarps she can transform into attire and rompers and shit. None of that is particularly objectionable on the surface: Gen Z stand-in with an unclassifiable career who loves zero-tailpipe emissions! You can contemplate how that probably adds up in the eyes of the faceless Hyundai professionals who greenlit this manufacturing.
But things speedy take a dark flip for Mia. It is revealed that her irritating agenda — Is she self-employed? It appears seemingly, but goes unmentioned — doesn’t allow her ample time to take breaks, forcing her to sleep in her car.
Hyundai claims the Ioniq 6 is the ideal place for a nap, calling it a “mindful cocoon” for single, young urban professionals. The interior is packed with sustainable materials and dramatic lighting, with 64 colors from which to recall. The automaker says it was designed to be a “healing space” with its “relaxation seats” and “flee sync lighting.”
Setting aside whether or no longer Mia may perhaps accumulate away with sleeping in her car without getting slapped with a label for vagrancy, the vision of the future that’s on display in this video isn’t the idealization of freedom that Hyundai thinks it’s miles. To me, it conjures up images of Uber drivers and other aggrieved gig economy staff forced to sleep in their cars to make a decent living. Images of millennials and Gen Zers being forced to work prolonged hours in carrier of “the grind” and other bullshit capitalist ideas.
So with that in mind, it’ll near as no shock Mia’s trashion reveal gained’t be an IRL match, but rather in the metaverse. That’s apt: her fashion ambitions don’t seem to include the accumulate and creation of actual, IRL attire, factual outfits for virtual minifigs. Why else would she be doing all that driving?
Another character in the Hyundai video, a “social express material creator” named Joan, straightens her hair using her EV’s many USB plugs as she can get ready to livestream about the VR trashion reveal. Again, we’re offered with another “hustling” Gen Zer who doesn’t have time to make consume of her maintain bathroom to prepare — assuming she even has a bathroom to make consume of.
Love other car companies sooner than it, Hyundai sees its latest EV as much less a blunt instrument to accumulate from point A to point B, but an idealized “space” for a total panoply of activities. This touches on the idea of what we recall to beget with our time whereas being pushed to our destinations in electric and autonomous autos. And it has sparked a irregular, miniature-noticed motion in the expertise and auto industries to redefine automobiles as social environments on par with our homes and work places, a space also known as the “third place.”
The idea that of the “third place” has been around for decades, but was probably perfect articulated by urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg in his 1989 e book The Great Factual Place. In it, he wrote that third places all over the arena share normal and essential features.
“The eternal sameness of the third place overshadows the variations in its outward appearance and appears unaffected by the large variations in cultural attitudes toward the typical gathering place of informal public existence,” Oldenburg wrote. “The beer joint in which the center class American takes no satisfaction can be as noteworthy a third place as the proud Viennese coffeehouse.”
Typical third places include barber shops, cafes, parks, golf equipment, and even Starbucks. But can cars, with their enclosed environments, no fastened location, and demands on our attention, be belief to be a third place? It’s a fairly bleak idea, whereas you think about all the negative externalities, treasure traffic congestion, air pollution, and death. But that gained’t finish Hyundai from pitching their unusual EV as a viable third place, full with mood lighting befitting a unusual generation of social media influencers.