11.09.2020 Press release

Hyundai Motor develops soapbox ride

  • Hyundai Motor has developed a Hyundai Soapbox ride which families and friends can build together
  • The soapbox was designed and engineered by Hyundai Europe Design Center using affordable materials which are easily available at a standard DIY store
  • Its design was inspired by the 45 concept car, simplified to be easy to replicate at home

Press material

Hyundai Motor has designed the Hyundai Soapbox ride which parents can build together with their children and groups of friends can create.

The soapbox was developed by engineers and designers from the Hyundai Motor Europe Technical Center (HMETC) using affordable and easily-available materials. Intended to promote quality time for customers, families and friends, Hyundai has made the instructions available to download so the vehicle can be built at home.

In recent months, spending time together as a family has become more valuable to people. We wanted to create a fun project that would give families and friends an enjoyable project that brings them together. Of course, the Hyundai Soapbox had to stay affordable, so our designers developed it using materials that can be easily found in a local DIY store.

Andreas-Christoph Hofmann Vice President of Marketing & Product at Hyundai Motor Europe

Quality time for families and friends

With schools still closed in parts of Europe, and families spending more time together, Hyundai recognised the importance of spending quality time with one’s family and wanted to come up with a project that would be fun for parents and children alike. As a mobility provider, this naturally involved something related to cars – and thus the idea of the Hyundai Soapbox was born.

The Hyundai Soapbox is a motor-less vehicle designed by Hyundai experts that is nonetheless fairly easy to build. Designers and engineers at HMETC conceived the model in the company’s workshop, and built a prototype to ensure the feasibility of the design. In order to keep it accessible, the HMETC team was careful to only use materials which were readily available at an average hardware store. They also paid attention to the total cost of materials to make sure the design stayed affordable.

According to the responsible team, it was an interesting project for the Hyundai engineers and designers. It gave them a chance to be creative on a different type of development than usual.

In the car industry we get so used to thinking within certain boxes, but this time, the door was open. With this project, we were free to be creative and think outside the box.

Thomas Bürkle Head of Hyundai Europe Design Center

Making the Hyundai Soapbox

Making of

The Hyundai Soapbox was designed just like a regular car. First, a team of engineers built the chassis. Then, a team of designers sketched ideas, first on paper and then as 3D computer models. They came up with different designs, chose one, and started building. Lastly, another team worked on colour and trim.

During the building process, the body design team realised that their original design was not very feasible for people to re-create. It involved double-curved surfaces that would have been difficult to replicate using regular tools and regular building materials. So they went back to the drawing board.

When designing the Hyundai Soapbox, it was important for us to ensure feasibility. We didn’t want to disadvantage parents for the sake of staying true to our original design. So when the design got too complex, we needed to take a step back and rethink.

Eduardo Ramirez Head of Exterior Design Team at HMETC

When looking to other Hyundai models for inspiration, the 45 concept stood out for its straight lines and geometric shapes, as well as the Hyundai design identity “Sensuous Sportiness”. As a basis, 45 provided the general direction and inspired the final soapbox design. Aspects of 45 can be seen in the surface treatment of the soapbox body, such as the flat panels and wedge-shaped silhouette.

This time the designers created a model through 2D sketches and by folding paper to represent the diagonal intersection of surfaces. This resulted in an angular and geometric look. 

45’s concept language is a very easy-to-remember form. The graphics and shapes will stay in your memory. In this way we thought it was a good fit for the soapbox, because we want children to grow up and remember building the soapbox together with their parents.

Thomas Bürkle Head of Hyundai Europe Design Center

The development team wanted the soapbox ride being simple yet demonstrating advanced thinking. So instead of using a conventional steering wheel they adapted the joystick steering concept from Prophecy show car. However, to allow homemade build, the joysticks were made of purchased screwdrivers.

Hyundai Soapbox technical specifications

The soapbox is made out of wood, metal rods, and connecting materials such as brackets and screws. The wheels are from a wheelbarrow. It has joysticks for steering and a simple mechanism for braking. True to Hyundai’s commitment to eco-friendly mobility solutions, the Hyundai Soapbox is made primarily from environmentally-friendly materials such as wood and metal.

Though the soapbox is built for the size of a child, due to clever engineering, it can also carry an adult’s weight.

The colour of the HMETC prototype is bright yellow, meant to capture the optimism and joy of childhood, as well as a nod to one of the launch colours of the original Kona.

When fully assembled, the Hyundai Soapbox is 1 meter wide and 1,76m long. It was important that the soapbox could fit into a regular passenger car, so that families could transport it to different locations as they look for hills to roll it down. The final soapbox design fits into an i30 Wagon.

True to the concept of a soapbox, there is no powertrain – or, as Bürkle put it: “The powertrain is gravity. Your own motivation. The power of your own two legs when you push it back uphill.”

Customers can either push the soapbox up a hill or ride it down, or have two people push each other around in it – which is what the HMETC team did during testing.

Though it would be possible to install some sort of powertrain or motor into the soapbox design, Hyundai chose not to in order to keep the prototype a true soapbox – at least in this version.

Room for creativity, driving fun is guaranteed

The Hyundai soapbox instructions are just a basis to help people get started – parents and children should feel free to upgrade and personalise their own versions however they want.

Although the soapbox was originally aimed at families with children, anyone is welcome to build one.

I don’t think the point is for people to build what we design and that’s it. Children are full of creativity, full of fantasy, and we need to leave room for that fantasy.

Thomas Bürkle Head of Hyundai Europe Design Center

Whatever the result, one thing is for sure: when you build a soapbox, driving fun is guaranteed.

For instructions on how to build your own soapbox, go here.

Technical instructions

The people involved in making the soapbox include:

Thomas Bürkle – Chief Designer, Head of Hyundai Europe Design Center
Eduardo Ramirez – General Manager, Head of Exterior Design Team
Manuel Schoettle – Lead Designer of the Soap Box Project
Sven Wittke – Manager of Studio Engineering Team
Chloé Zaoui – Lead Engineer of the Soap Box Project
Michael Bohl – Manager of Modelling Team
Tayo Osobu – Senior Manager of Color and Trim Team
Matthias Uhlig – Senior Manage, CAS team
Armand Nowak – Manager, Project Planning and Coordination


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