With its new Inception prototype, Peugeot wants to attract young motorists

By presenting in Las Vegas an electric prototype full of technologies to inspire the next Peugeot vehicles, the brand of the Stellantis group hopes to attract a new generation of drivers, its boss Linda Jackson said on Friday in an interview with AFP.

The car, called Inception, is still a concept but some of its technologies will gradually be found in new models from 2025-2026, such as the Hypersquare command center, assures the manager.

Replacing the traditional steering wheel, this rectangular object with a screen operates by touch, by simple clicks or lateral movements, like a video game. It no longer guides the car via a physical steering column but via electrical controls.

“A new generation of customers, younger, accustomed to using smartphones (…) is coming and we have to adapt to the times”, notes Linda Jackson.

“Of course, we try to satisfy our existing customers, but we also want to attract new customers.”

The prototype was presented in the United States, on the occasion of the consumer electronics fair CES, but the brand does not plan to return to the country.

While Peugeot has not manufactured cars for the United States since 1991, a possible return was mentioned in 2016.

But after the merger in 2021 of the parent company of Peugeot with the Fiat-Chrysler group (FCA), very well established in the United States with in particular Chrysler and Alfa Romeo, this idea was abandoned.

And Linda Jackson confirmed Friday that it was “definitely” not in the pipeline.

But the Las Vegas show is a showcase for the whole world and the group wants to increase its presence in regions other than its stronghold, Europe, particularly in South America, the Middle East, Africa, India and in Asia-Pacific, the official said.

– Mechanics replaced –

Stellantis boss Carlos Tavares stressed on Thursday that the transition to electric is still resulting in higher prices for the time being, which could ultimately reduce car sales and force the group to adapt and possibly cut expenses.

Citing difficulties due to the pandemic and the increase in these costs linked to the transition to electric, the company has already planned to suspend activity in a Jeep brand factory in the United States at the end of February, on the Belvidere (Illinois) assembly site.

The amounts to be invested in research and development are in fact “enormous”, recognizes Linda Jackson. But then you just have to “find efficiencies” by choosing the right materials and technologies for each model, achieving economies of scale like Stellantis does by developing a common platform for its 14 car brands, and marketing vehicles differently.

The most important problem in his eyes currently remains the lack of infrastructure to recharge cars.

The other reason why Peugeot chose to present Inception in Las Vegas is that it is an electronics show.

“Cars are no longer about mechanics but about software (…), how to manage them,” says Linda Jackson.

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