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EuroNCAP rules may kill off Inception concept

Peugeot says crashworthiness regulations could see Inception design change radically

16 Jan 2023

PEUGEOT’S stunning Inception concept wowed the automotive world last week, introducing not only a new styling direction for the brand, but a largely unorthodox mix of proportions and materials that many would assume are little more than an expression of ideas.


However, GoAuto has learnt from speaking with Peugeot product director Jerome Micheron and Peugeot design director Matthias Hossann at the Inception’s global debut last week that daring designs must ultimately be toned down in order to satisfy crashworthiness protocols set out by the likes of Euro NCAP and its Australasian counterpart ANCAP.


Regardless, Peugeot says many aspects of the model – and its lounge-like interior – are production-ready, with much of the design and technology exhibited in the Inception concept due to make its way into production models by the end of the decade.


“While Inception is a manifesto, you are right in saying that today the car industry is quite strongly driven by all of these regulations. So, we think it is quite interesting when we develop these kinds of manifestos to challenge these regulations, to try and see a little bit beyond,” said Mr Hossann.


“Beyond the traditional boundaries, we would like to see which kind of experiences we can deliver to the end user – the seven-square-metre area of glass, as one example, shows that we can open a new perspective thanks to this platform to allow the driver and passengers a new experience of their environment.”


But while the idea might work well in an ideal world, Mr Hossann admitted there are challenges in configuring the vehicle’s structure to meet crashworthiness standards designed around a more traditional vehicle shape.


“As you can appreciate, we have a lot of work to do to pass these kinds of regulations; that’s why at this stage the car is just a manifesto. But again, these are some of the design directions we are interested in working toward in the future in order to deliver a new automotive experience for the end user,” he explained.


Mr Hossann said the interior of the vehicle – with its broad seats and low backrests – was another regulatory sticking point Peugeot would work to overcome.


Currently, crash testing centres around forward-facing seats with suitable whiplash protection, a degree of road departure cushioning, appropriate levels of bolstering and even built-in airbags – none of which appear to be present in the concept manifesto.


“We believe that, thanks to this new architecture, there is scope to reinvent the seat as we know it. When you talk about autonomous driving – and as we’ve seen from rival desginers – there are benefits to come from the way we will ‘live’ inside the car, the comfort that is offered and so on, inside the Peugeot” Mr Hossann told GoAuto.


“There is some challenge, you know, with EuroNCAP and the regulations, but again, this car is a laboratory that is helping us to push these new ideas in order for them to exist in the future market.


“We really believe that there is room for new expressions and for reinterpretation of what appears to be the standard automotive seat as we know it.”


Peugeot product director Jerome Micheron said dedicated battery electric vehicle (BEV) platforms enable car-makers to meet the increasingly high expectations of electric car customers.


“Thanks to the new generation of our BEV-by-design platforms dedicated to electric vehicles, we will meet their expectations,” he stated.


“We are going to surprise them with our future cars’ layout, we are going to simplify the driving gestures and reinvent the driving experience.


“These goals are now taking shape in the form of the Peugeot Inception concept; Peugeot’s transformation goes far beyond the sole ambition of becoming 100 per cent electric.


“The brand will allow you to take full advantage of all the new possibilities offered by electric technology and new software to live new and enriching experiences.”

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