Birth of an e-Legend, a retro Peugeot EV/AV concept
The concept vehicles at the Paris Motor show are always impressive—and the visions of the future at 2018’s event did not disappoint. The star of the show within the halls in the French capital seemed to be Peugeot’s e-Legend—an homage to the French OEM’s 504 coupé, which celebrates its 50-year anniversary this year. The eye-catching 2+2 is Peugeot’s take on an autonomous, connected future where drivers retain the ability to be in control behind the wheel.
“The starting point was to look at the possible car of the future—in 2025—when autonomous driving is fairly commonplace,” explained Matthias Hossan, e-Legend’s design manager. “But as it is the 50th anniversary of the 504 coupé, we thought it was a good opportunity to mix a bit of the DNA from the past together with the technologies for the cars of the future.”
The e-Legend concept offers four modes of driving—two autonomous and two manual. Each mode can be specified according to road surface, traffic conditions or the mood of the driver. The first autonomous mode—Soft concentrates on making the vehicle as comfortable as possible for the occupants, minimizing the information displayed on the screens and adopting smoother ride and handling setup. Meanwhile, the Sharp setting allows for maximum connectivity with the digital services, such as using social media, arranging calendars and carrying out work tasks and watching movies.
In manual mode, drivers have a choice of the Legend setting—where the dashboard alters in appearance to reflect the three dials of the 504 Coupé model, finished in a wood-effect digital display. For a more dynamic and stimulating drive setup, there is Boost mode, where a visual of the road is displayed on a 180° panel around the driver and passenger footwell.
An additional major interior change between the models is made when the driver switches to either of the autonomous settings. Here, the steering wheel retracts under a sound bar that stretches the width of the vehicle, making the 49-in central screen fully visible. In addition, the front seats recline for extra comfort and the side armrests deploy automatically, enabling more storage area as well as an induction charging area for smartphones and tablets.
The e-Legend is 100% electric thanks to a 100-kW·h battery pack that creates 800 N·m (590 lb·ft) of torque and 340 kW of power, distributed via a four-wheel drive system. The powertrain enables a 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) time of under 4 s and a top speed of 220 km/h (137 mph). The vehicle range is a claimed 600 km (370 mi), of which 500 km (310 mi) are available in 25 min when using a fast charger to replenish the pack. The brakes and steering are all by-wire systems and e-Legend meets Level 4 autonomous driving standards.
“The idea was to generate a concept vehicle that was a realistic size, in order to best represent autonomous driving,” added Hossan, who isn’t a fan of some of the very lengthy designs that have been proposed in the past. As a further illustration of future interior innovations, audio company Focal devised an acoustic architecture to ensure optimal sound diffusion within the car. This system enables the driver to input navigation voice commands while the other occupants of the car can independently listen to music, or have their own “sound bubble.” As a result, all four occupants can listen to different things without affecting the others.
There is a lot to like about the Peugeot e-Legend, but Hossan warns people not to get too excited. “You will never see the car like this on the street, but it is an indication of what future vehicles will be like in terms of the surface details and styling,” he said. “Also for the autonomous driving, the sensors and LiDAR and radar systems are likely to appear on our cars in the near future.”
The message was reiterated at the show by Jean-Philippe Imparato, Peugeot’s CEO who maintained that e-Legend was ‘not just a technological manifesto’. “This is the vision of a brand actively focused on an optimistic and ultra-desirable future,” he commented. “For Peugeot, autonomy and electric are synonymous with even stronger sensations. Boredom will never be part of our DNA.”