Inside Peugeot’s ideas laboratories

For Peugeot, a concept car is not a free exercise in style. It is part of a real brand strategy. It is a heightened vision that nourishes and inspires the style and technology of the future.

08 May 2020 | Motors

Peugeot always develops its concept cars so that they are functional and driveable, in order to offer a complete experience, even when dynamic.

For several years now, Peugeot concept-cars have had realistic dimensions (architecture & wheel size) and are equipped with elements that can be seen in production vehicles.

With 210 years of history, concept cars fuel Peugeot's DNA.

The first real exercise in style assimilated to a concept car was born in 1984: the Peugeot Quasar. As a real technological showcase, it was the first time that engineers and designers were given carte blanche to create a fantastical object outside of any industrial constraints.

In 2010, the SR1 concept inaugurates a new era in Peugeot design, with the appointment of Gilles Vidal.

In 2012, the Peugeot Onyx would be the brand's first Style manifesto, exploring raw materials, such as copper, or the new position of the emblem in the centre of the grille. The Onyx line will also be the first full mobility statement with the bike and scooter concepts.

Other stylistic explorations will be real brand manifestos with the 308 R HYBRID or 508 Peugeot Sport Engineered concepts developed with the Peugeot Sport entity. The latter was the basis of a production car as was the case for the 306 hunting estate for the Phase 2 in 1999, the 20Y for the 206 CC or the Peugeot RCZ Concept for the coupé of the same name.

Genesis

At the beginning of the search for inspiration, designers are looking for signals of emerging trends in a wide variety of fields, such as: architecture, fashion, the arts or new mobility.

The aim is to detect new expectations, new requirements in other fields, to get out of the automotive world, to detect new societal trends, all to benefit our future customers. This applies to exterior or interior design but also to research in colours and materials or graphics.

Once the specifications have been established (or a so-called mood board), the Peugeot Design Department launches a competition between all the designers.

Some would work day and night to try and win the prestigious competition. Once the shortlist is set, digital models are made and scale 1 models are milled to see the volumes and the general balance of the object. After long hours of deliberation and approval at the highest echelons of the brand, the project that best meets the initial specifications is selected.

A 3D digitisation and CAD phase follows, to design a very precise digital model. A new, more detailed 1:1 scale model is then milled. This model will be used to refine the details, adjustments, surfaces and to define the final colour of the concept. The process is the same for the interior.

The project will then be entrusted to leading companies in modelling, mock-up and the production of unique pieces. They are the only ones able to meet the slightest wish or requirement of a designer.

Time

One of the major challenges in the construction of a concept car is the time constraint.

It is very often designed for a large event, such as a trade fair to take pride of place on a stand, and therefore cannot be delivered late. In less than a year, you have to go from stylish sketches to a finished, functional object.

The new digital tools, such as virtual reality helmets or the C.A.V.E (Cave Automatic Virtual Environment), make the design part much easier today, but attention to detail and refinement are only possible on physical objects.

Concept cars are also an opportunity to form partnerships with SMEs or craftsmen who are the most advanced in their field.

For EXALT, a custom-made fragrance has been created to perfect the experience right down to the sense of smell with EX-NIHILO perfumers. For e-LEGEND, the interior woodwork in paldao essence has been shaped by the cabinet maker HERVET Manufacturier.

Partnerships are also established with international leaders, as was the case with SAMSUNG for INSTINCT or with FOCAL for Foodtruck and FRACTAL.

Upmarket move

Concept cars have played a major role in Peugeot's move upmarket. Their technological level and sophistication feed the vehicles produced in series.

Concept-cars are locomotives, objects that unite all the company's key players, whether they be the R&D or communication and marketing teams. They enable future uses to be explored around a common vision. They are real vectors of innovation that are used in the different business lines of Groupe PSA.

While certain styling studies have inspired the bodywork of certain products, they have also made a major contribution to the evolution of the interiors of mass-produced models.

Through experimentation on innovative materials or new digital interfaces, the "phygital", a mix of the physical and the digital, will simplify and transcend the driving experience of each Peugeot.

Each concept-car is a genuine laboratory for ideas.

Some of them have been designed with innovations well ahead of their time. And even if they are not designed for mass production, many of the elements are used for products in the commercial range, here are a few examples: Touareg (1996), Moonster & 4002, Sesame, EX1, SR1, Onyx, Exalt, Quartz, Fractal, Instinct, and e-LEGEND. - MotorPress

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