Agnostic Powertrain Platforms More Flexible, Says PSA

While many carmakers are planning a future with dedicated platforms for electric cars, the PSA Group are taking a more ‘flexible’ approach.

According to head of product at Peugeot Laurent Blanchet, the French automaker’s approach will be governed directly by the market rather than chasing any electric vision of which some other automakers have been guilty. Speaking to TU-Automotive at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, Blanchet said: “We don’t know exactly what will happen with future mobility so the best way to handle that is to be prepared. For example, with electrification our choice is not to have specific vehicles. Our choice is to develop, on the same platform which is the common modular platform (CMP), products for our customers where they are electric, diesel or gasoline. For us, we have to be flexible and this is true both for mobility and electrification. It’s also true of connectivity and other topics and at the PSA Group we have to be focused on fewer platforms but flexible ones.”

He said this approach also opens up the global opportunities of flexible platforms being able to satisfy very different roles in multiple markets. He explained: “The good example of this is, again, electrification because with this modular platform we have, and that’s also true at all levels of vehicles whether it’s the 208 or the 508, this will allow us to react very quickly to the market. If we see tomorrow that our forecast for electric vehicles rises from 10% to 20%, this is no problem because we are on the same production line, in the same factory with the same car. So, it would be very easy for us to up the amount of electric cars because we don’t have a specific body shape, a specific platform or a specific factory. In this way, our philosophy is to be reactive, agile and be able to react in a few months to whatever the market decides.”

That said, this flexible approach can only be applied in part to the future autonomous vehicles, said Blanchet. “We have to make some assumptions about this technology and so we think that up to Level 3 it is easy to integrate all the technologies and all the costs in a modular platform. Then there are questions that have to be raised about Level 4 and Level 5, where the cost is huge, and then we think driverless cars could be used as cabs or minibuses for commercial entities and not for private owners at this stage.”

A lot will also depend on where regulators will allow even the current hands-off driving technology for consumers to explore the full potential of autonomous vehicles. Blanchet said: “Level 3 is already very performant in terms of autonomous driving because you can drive up to 60-70kph (36-42mph) without looking at the road freeing you up to watch a movie or carry out some work. We will go very quickly to this level but with Level 4 and Level 5 we have to consider what the cost will be and what is the best adapted car that can handle this kind of technology.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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