Preview shows how Peugeot Inception will influence future EVs

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French firm will reclassify the segments it sells in, with seven bold new EVs previewed for launch by 2030.

Future Peugeot models will take the lead from the radical new Inception concept in “challenging conventional silhouettes”, and now an official preview released by the firm shows just how dramatically they will be reinvented.

Presented as part of Peugeot’s wide-reaching ‘E-Lion’ strategy update today, the brand’s electric line-up preview looks to include four low-slung cars – seemingly including two hatchbacks and a saloon alongside a more mysterious model in the centre – and a trio of SUVs.

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Every model in Peugeot’s European line-up will be electric by 2030.

No doubt this preview image points to radically redesigned successors to today’s models: the Peugeot 208, 308, 408, 508, 2008, 3008 and 5008. The influence of the new Inception concept – shown at CES in Las Vegas earlier this year – is evident in their rakish silhouettes and distinctive ‘claw’ headlight designs, but also because each previewed model looks to be defined by a silhouette that does not obviously belong to any one core vehicle segment.

Speaking to Automotive Daily Network partner Autocar at the Paris motor show last year, the brand’s chief designer Matthias Hossann highlighted the benefits of the new Peugeot 408’s unconventional silhouette – namely that its raised ride height and spacious greenhouse boost practicality, while its rakish roofline promotes efficiency – and said future models will follow suit.

“It shows the inventiveness of the brand, this new typology of product,” he said. “It’s not a sedan any more, it’s not an SUV. It’s something else – a new species, a new breed of car, and I think when you see it physically, you can really appreciate these new proportions.”

Asked why it is important to rethink traditional vehicle categorisations, Hossann said “every product we are designing needs to be a worldwide product”, highlighting that China – a key focus market for Peugeot – is no longer the saloon car stronghold it once was, such is the global trend towards SUVs.

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He said the current Peugeot 508, launched in 2018, was the first step on the path towards “the evolution of the traditional sedan car”, with its coupé-style silhouette and sporting focus.

When it came to designing the 408, Peugeot’s designers found “there was white space between the traditional sedan and the SUV, and in this white space we didn’t want to just do a sedan crossover with some plastic parts on it, we really wanted to do something else”. The 408 is part of a move to cater to a target market that, claims Hossann, wants “a new experience” when they buy a car.

“We don’t want to be stuck to traditional sedans or SUVs any more,” he said. “We want to push for the future of Peugeot, so every time we design a new car, we want to challenge the conservative silhouettes that we are used to.”

He stopped short of confirming whether each future model would straddle multiple segments as obviously as the 408, but emphasised the ‘non-traditional’ ethos behind the design of each current Peugeot, and said it will be emphasised in the next generation of cars.

The brand explored this messaging further with the Inception concept, which – unusually for a mainstream volume brand in 2023 – shunned conventional SUV design cues, in spite of its generous footprint, in favour of more rakish, GT-esque proportions. Peugeot was careful to clarify that it won’t build a production version of the Inception, necessarily, but said future models will draw inspiration from the way in which it occupies several car segments at once.

Indeed, product director Jerome Micherôn has been vocal on his conviction that the days of the tradition SUV could be numbered: “We believe not everything is related to SUVs. We know the customer loves SUVs, but we see also the trend of very aerodynamic vehicles with a low roof for efficiency, so we believe there is life outside SUVs.”

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