Peugeot’s Inception electric concept car ditches the steering wheel


Peugeot has unveiled a radical vision of its future with a stunning new electric all-wheel drive car called Inception with a range of nearly 500 miles and supercar acceleration from rest to 62mph in under three seconds.

The French car giant says the dramatic new prototype concept car with a vast glass cockpit ‘heralds a new era and embodies the brand’s vision for future electric vehicles’.

Although some of the more fanciful ideas – such as dispensing with the steering wheel and replacing it with finger-touch controls familiar to video gamers and smartphone users – are unlikely make it into final production, Peugeot insists: ‘Our ambition is to bring most of its innovations to production from 2025.’

Glass act: This is the Peugeot Inception concept car – an all-electric vehicle with a huge glass cockpit panel measuring in at 7.25 square metres

The car’s styling and the showcased technology is a clear direction of travel for the stylish French car-maker as it moves increasingly upmarket into the premium segment.

The new ‘feline’ design language – described as ‘simpler and more refined’ – will definitely be introduced on the next Peugeot model launched from 2025, it says.

Stretching to some five metres long, the 100 per cent electric Peugeot has the low (1.34 metre) sleek silhouette profile of an aerodynamic coupe.

It is driven by two compact electric motors – one on each axle – giving four-wheel drive and a combined power close to 680hp (500kW), allowing it accelerate from 0 to 62mph (100km/h) in under three seconds.

Its 100kWh battery allows it to travel 496 miles on a full charge – that’s enough to get from London to Dundee with a few miles of range to spare (or from Paris to Marseille or Brussels to Berlin).

It is equipped with 800V technology and energy consumption is at a rate of 12.5kWh per 100km (62 miles).

The battery charges the equivalent of just under 19 miles (30km) of range in one minute, or 93 miles (150km) in five minutes.

Stretching to some five metres long, the 100 per cent electric Peugeot has the low (1.34 metre) sleek silhouette profile of an aerodynamic coupe

Stretching to some five metres long, the 100 per cent electric Peugeot has the low (1.34 metre) sleek silhouette profile of an aerodynamic coupe

Peugeot says its new concept car can also be recharged wirelessly by induction ¿ like many mobile phones - without the need for a cable, but simply by driving over an electrified pad

Peugeot says its new concept car can also be recharged wirelessly by induction – like many mobile phones – without the need for a cable, but simply by driving over an electrified pad

Peugeot's Inception is driven by two compact electric motors ¿ one on each axle ¿ giving four-wheel drive and a combined power close to 680hp (500kW), allowing it accelerate from 0 to 62mph (100km/h) in under three seconds

Peugeot’s Inception is driven by two compact electric motors – one on each axle – giving four-wheel drive and a combined power close to 680hp (500kW), allowing it accelerate from 0 to 62mph (100km/h) in under three seconds

Inception can also be recharged wirelessly by induction – like many mobile phones – without the need for a cable, but simply by driving over an electrified pad. 

Rolls-Royce and Volvo have also trialled similar technology in the past, though neither have adopted it.

It has a conservatory-style glass cockpit and a gaming controller for steering 

Key features include a new generation intelligent i-Cockpit and a ‘steer-by-wire’ system which ‘does away with the steering wheel as we have known it for decades’. 

In its place is a ‘Hypersquare’ control where digital electric touch controls and a tablet-screen have replaced mechanical links. This offers a new ‘intuitive’ way of operating the car, says Peugeot.

Peugeot says its goal is to introduce the Hypersquare on a next generation vehicle in the range before the end of the decade.

One of the concept's most interesting features is a new generation intelligent i-Cockpit and a 'steer-by-wire' system which 'does away with the steering wheel as we have known it for decades'

One of the concept’s most interesting features is a new generation intelligent i-Cockpit and a ‘steer-by-wire’ system which ‘does away with the steering wheel as we have known it for decades’

In its place is a 'Hypersquare' control where digital electric touch controls and a tablet-screen have replaced mechanical links. This offers a new 'intuitive' way of operating the car, says Peugeot

In its place is a ‘Hypersquare’ control where digital electric touch controls and a tablet-screen have replaced mechanical links. This offers a new ‘intuitive’ way of operating the car, says Peugeot

As self-driving technology and the law allows, Peugeot says the intention is that the Hypersquare controller retracts – along with the low-slung dashboard – and a large panoramic screen slides out from the floor. 

‘The dashboard will be no more’, says Peugeot.

That’s not a steering wheel! How the ‘Hypersquare’ works 

Explaining how the Hypersquare control system with digital electric controls and a smart-screen would replace the traditional steering wheel, Peugeot said: ‘Hypersquare replaces the classic steering wheel and creates a new, natural, simpler and safer way of driving.

‘With the touch of a fingertip, you control all driving parameters and steer-by-wire technology makes driving more instinctive and simpler, like a video game but in real life.

‘It has similar movements to how we use our smartphones. The intuitive aspect creates a high level of safety.’

It added: ‘The designers have gone for a completely new architecture, removing the steering wheel and the classic switchgears. Born digital and inspired by video games, the Hypersquare control system takes the i-Cockpit concept invented by Peugeot into the near future.’

A flexible circular screen called a ‘halo cluster’ will display driving or infotainment information at 360 degrees.

Its striking passenger compartment has been designed as a vast glass capsule that ‘plunges to the front of the driver and front passenger’s feet’ with an innovative Skyspace panoramic glass roof to give a sense of brightness and space. 

All 7.25 square metres of smart glazing – comprising windscreen, side windows and quarter windows – is made from glass designed for architecture, and uses a multi-chrome coating treatment (with metal oxides) employed by NASA for the visors of astronauts’ helmets to cut out glare and harmful UV rays.

The glass panel extends from the back of the car all the way to the front, with the bottom of the windscreen at around the driver’s hip level.

It makes the car feel extremely airy, like a conservatory on wheels. 

This lower windscreen also means the concept has a smaller than conventional bonnet that Peugeot calls an ‘Aero Tech Deck’ to house all of the electric vehicle’s maintenance functions, including the charging socket and charge monitoring. 

The addition of artificial intelligence means the car can recognise the driver as he or she approaches and can set up the appropriate comfort settings (seat posture, temperature, driving mode and multimedia preferences) chosen by each occupant.

It also has a flush screen – called a ‘tech bar’ – that emits different messages to the outside of the vehicle when the driver and passengers approach it and give welcome and goodbye messages. 

The front of the car has a distinctive ‘mask’ effect which merges the entire front grille and bumper, incorporating lights and sensors while its aerodynamic wheels feature individual illuminated lion emblems which remains static when the wheels is turn.

The exclusive body colour is composed of very fine metal pigments and single-coated to save energy. Pure black has been eradicated from all trim. 

Inside, passengers enjoy an interior designed for a grand tourer with more elongated and comfortable immersive seating positions that allow passengers front and rear to enjoy exceptional views thanks to the acres of glass. The seats have adjustable quilted ‘mattresses’ at the shoulders to boost comfort.

All 7.25 square metres of smart glazing ¿ comprising windscreen, side windows and quarter windows - is made from glass designed for architecture, and uses a multi-chrome coating treatment (with metal oxides) employed by NASA for the visors of astronauts' helmets to cut out glare and harmful UV rays

All 7.25 square metres of smart glazing – comprising windscreen, side windows and quarter windows – is made from glass designed for architecture, and uses a multi-chrome coating treatment (with metal oxides) employed by NASA for the visors of astronauts’ helmets to cut out glare and harmful UV rays

The vast use of glass in the cockpit makes the interior of the car feel extremely airy, like a conservatory on wheels

The vast use of glass in the cockpit makes the interior of the car feel extremely airy, like a conservatory on wheels

Although some of the more fanciful ideas are unlikely make it into final production, Peugeot insists that 'most' of the Inception's innovations will be see in production from 2025

Although some of the more fanciful ideas are unlikely make it into final production, Peugeot insists that ‘most’ of the Inception’s innovations will be see in production from 2025

The car uses recycled and moulded textiles: ‘Scraps of 100 per cent polyester fabric from the design centre’s prototype workshops or from suppliers are reused and thermo-compressed under vacuum, with a bond injected in the form of a resourced resin.

Peugeot says: ‘This technology produces an extremely hard and durable material.

‘It can be used for a variety of structures such as doorways.’

The interior also uses exposed galvanised steel and a velvet-style material made from 100 per cent recycled polyester and printed with 3D patterns, including on the floor.

It also boasts a premium hi-fi system.

Peugeot said Inception takes its name from the Latin ‘Inceptio’, meaning ‘the beginning’ and signifies a new chapter.

Peugeot’s Coventry born global chief executive Linda Jackson said: ‘Peugeot is committed to the electrification of its range. From next year, 100% of the vehicles in the range will be electrified and in the next two years, five new 100% electric models will be launched.

‘Our ambition is simple: to make Peugeot the leading electric brand in Europe by 2030. This objective and ambitious vision paves the way for a radical transformation for the brand.’

Peugeot said Inception takes its name from the Latin 'Inceptio', meaning 'the beginning' and signifies a new chapter

Peugeot said Inception takes its name from the Latin ‘Inceptio’, meaning ‘the beginning’ and signifies a new chapter

As self-driving technology and the law allows, Peugeot says the intention is that the Hypersquare controller retracts ¿ along with the low-slung dashboard - and a large panoramic screen slides out from the floor

As self-driving technology and the law allows, Peugeot says the intention is that the Hypersquare controller retracts – along with the low-slung dashboard – and a large panoramic screen slides out from the floor

Inception marks the first Peugeot design ‘manifesto’ led by senior design chief Matthias Hossann. As part of this, Peugeot aims to reduce the firm’s carbon footprint by more than 50 per cent by 2030.

Peugeot product director Jérôme Micheron said: ‘Customers have high expectations of the electric car.

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

‘We will allow them to take full advantage of all the new possibilities offered by electric technology and new software to live new and enriching experiences.’

Marketing and communications director Phil York said: ‘Like Inception, our future models will be equipped with artificial intelligence and will be fully connected.

‘Future Peugeots will not only be zero-emission, they will also be relaxing and exciting, easy to buy, use and update.’

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