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 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.”


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