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[NEWS] Peugeot promises radically different take on SUVs

Peugeot promises radically different take on SUVs

The Inception concept points to a rethink of how future vehicle segments will be categorised

Aero will heavily influence design of new Peugeot SUVs but 'there is life' in lower-slung segments

Peugeot is poised to drastically reinvent the concept of the SUV in a bid to optimise aerodynamic efficiency - and thus EV driving range.

Speaking at the reveal of the radical Peugeot Inception concept – a rakish, low-slung shooting brake – at CES in Las Vegas today, bosses were keen to point out that although Peugeot has no plans to build a production version of the concept itself, it does point to a wide-reaching rethink of traditional vehicle segmentation for 2025 onwards.

Holding up the new Peugeot 408 as an example of how the traditional SUV can be adapted for the modern era, CEO Linda Jackson said: "It's a mix between a saloon and an SUV", pointing to its raised driving position and rakish form as key differentiators compared with the closely related Peugeot 308 hatch and Peugeot 3008 crossover.

Reimagining the SUV is important because it will remain a popular proposition despite its relative aerodynamic inefficiency, Jackson said: "I don't think anybody's saying SUVs are going to disappear, because they're still as popular as ever. But we're all looking for ways to make them more aerodynamic, so therefore you start to move into different silhouettes."

Her remarks suggest that while future Peugeot SUVs will sit as far from the ground as their current counterparts, and look to offer comparable – or improved – interior space and flexibility, they will take the lead from the Inception in adopting a sleek, sharp profile with familiar saloon- or estate-derived cues.

"Will the traditional saloon come back? I'm not sure about that," Jackson said, suggesting the replacement for today's Peugeot 508 four-door fastback may take on a different, more market-friendly form. "But certainly the shapes of the silhouettes are changing, because they are led by aerodynamics.

"The principle of SUVs will continue because they are so popular across the world, but everyone is trying to find a new way of optimising the aerodynamics – and trying to save weight – to save CO2."

But there were also signs that Peugeot remains committed to developing and launching cars like the Peugeot 208, 308 and 508, which sit closer to the ground and remain highly popular globally.

Product director Jerome Micherôn said: "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."

Jackson has previously said Peugeot will not consider launching 'niche' models with low sales volume potential, but the Inception concept is said to preview the design and technology of Peugeot cars both large and small, and the brand is understood to be planning a similar offering to its current line-up in the EV era. So it today's lower-slung models could be due direct – but radically restyled – electric replacements.

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