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Why Hyundai created a universal charger for cars

The Hi-Charger for electric vehicles is a 2020 Innovation by Design honoree.

Why Hyundai created a universal charger for cars
[Photo: Hyundai]
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A dozen major auto manufacturers are now building electric vehicles, but the charging ports are all over the place. Some companies design on the front of the vehicle, others on the back or side. As Hyundai planned its first public charging stations in Seoul, the company tapped McKinsey to design a more universal charger that could accommodate as many brands as possible.

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[Photo: Hyundai]
The result, the Hyundai Hi-Charger, is a beacon, featuring a glowing halo overhead. This halo rotates and drops the cable in just the right spot, depending on the make and model of your vehicle. “So much inspiration came from self-serve car washes,” says Jeff Salazar, a partner at McKinsey San Francisco. “They have the sprayer hanging down from the top and it kind of rotates around.”

[Photo: Hyundai]
The halo also serves as a status bar that anyone nearby can see, gradually filling in with light as the 20-minute charge reaches completion. Subtle? Not at all. But subtlety isn’t Hyundai’s goal.

Sources: PolicyAdvice, IEA, McKinsey. *Projected

“This isn’t about quietly integrating some great technology,” says Salazar. “This is about finding the right brand expression, and experience, to lead to better [electric] adoption.”

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See more honorees from the 2020 Innovation by Design Awards here.

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company who has written about design, technology, and culture for almost 15 years. His work has appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, Esquire, American Photo and Lucky Peach

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