Style Not Power Will Sell the Cars of the Future, Says DS Autos

Engine power output will become largely irrelevant to future generations of car buyers and users more interested in lifestyle than mechanical prowess.

That’s the opinion of Eric Apode vice-president products and development for PSA Group’s luxury brand DS Automobiles. He sees a future auto landscape populated by consumers who will make their decisions based on user experience values such as comfort, convenience and equipment rather than how fast the vehicle will accelerate or how high its potential top speed.

For the DS badge, that future starts now with it DS 3 Crossback SUV model that is currently offered with diesel, gasoline and battery electric powertrains. Crucially, however, the BEV will only have one power output option unlike the offerings seen among other luxury vehicle producers such as Tesla.

That’s because DS believes the ‘need for speed’ that used to sell vehicles to the older generation of car buyers no longer exists among the emerging consumers particularly with the growth of urban populations around the world. Speaking exclusively to TU-Automotive at the Paris Motor Show 2018, Apode said: “For sure, we will not continuously offer different steps of power output. For now the electric DS 3 Crossback has one power output of 136 hp and we don’t see DS offering different power outputs. This is some rationalization of the production process. However, if the market needs or wants different power outputs, we would be able to do it but we think, in the future, power will become less and less important.”

He said the lifestyle qualities of the DS brand will become the main marketing strength among consumers in the digital age who will value their time in the vehicle more as a pleasurable experience rather than as some sort of frenetic desire to race away from the next set of traffic lights.

Apode added: “What is important is in the terms of comfort and equipment, aspect, design and styling with the ability for the customer to configure the car as they want. In the past there was a lot of interest in the engine and less towards comfort and design. This is a big strength for DS because we have come up with a design language that is really new in the automotive industry.”

This mindset also informs DS’s decision not to offer a hybrid version of the DS 3 Crossback in the model’s line-up. Apode said an urban facing vehicle such as this does not suit the hybrid powertrain in a compact city dwelling SUV while it does with its larger sibling the DS 7 Crossback. “We are talking about the compact urban SUV segment and here we think there is no need and no market for a hybrid at this time, although there may be in the future. So, the choice we have made on the EMP2 platform, the larger platform, there will be plug-in hybrid but on the small platform, CMP, this is dedicated to electric.”

The mould-breaking feature of the CMP platform is that it was designed from the floor up to be able to house both traditional and new all-electric powertrains with no difference in the user experience, added Apode. “This is the very first application of the new CMP platform and has been developed to accommodate both ICE and electric powertrains. In this way we have managed to solve some of the problems inherent with electrifying a car. Often there is no capacity in the boot [trunk] and other compromises because you have to adapt an existing platform to make it electric.

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

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