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Peugeot boss: 'Electric cars to drive radical design rethink'

  • Peugeot head of design says radical design changes needed
  • Cannot 'risk' a revolution in car design
  • Electric cars such as BMW i3 need intellectual freedom and investment
Words ByJim Holder

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Electric car technology will open up the opportunity for a radical redesign of cars in the long-term, Peugeot's head of design Gilles Vidal believes.

However, Vidal says such a change will take many years, as car makers are typically cautious about making major design steps and risking alienating car buyers. He also highlighted the challenge for brands that had established design languages, which they would have to reconsider for electrified vehicles.

"Whatever your opinion of the BMW i3, you have to admire the branding and the bravery if setting up a new company, said Vidal. "That sort of project could only be achieved outside of the parent brand, almost by a skunkworks team, because it requires an intellectual freedom, as well as a lot of investment.

"In France we are very familiar with the concept of revolution - of doing things radically differently - but we cannot risk that in car design. That is why I believe that, for all the opportunities, we will continue to see electric cars that look like 'normal' cars for some time.

"In time, though, that will change. We cannot just be safe - we need to evolve to take advantage of the potential of repackaging a car to use electric motors, and the fact such cars will likely be used at low
speeds and cities only."