The Peugeot Fractal concept is a compact urban coupe/cabriolet concept designed to explore possibilities for electric vehicle sound and 3D printing techniques. Measuring in at 3810mm in overall length and 1770mm wide, the four-wheel-drive 1000kg vehicle also has a removable top and rear hinged doors — that can be operated via a Samsung Gear S smartwatch to enhance its concept car credentials — as well as short 520mm front and rear overhangs.
Developed in collaboration with Brazilian sound designer Amon Tobin, the Fractal concept emits different sounds specific to the vehicle’s status — acceleration, deceleration and cruising speed – to alert pedestrians and cyclists of its presence. This will become a legislative requirement in Europe for all vehicles for traveling below 30kph (19mph) in 2019, and it could potentially open up infinite possibilities for personalization of the EV sound.
“Peugeot Fractal is the fruit of collaboration between artists exploring new horizons,” says Tobin. “We worked with the designers to pool our resources of inspiration. The style is inspired by the sound, and my design draws on the [concept’s] looks and materials.”
Peugeot designers, meanwhile, created dihedral components based on anechoic chambers on the narrow 19-inch wheels to alleviate road noise and created complex surface structures for the acoustically-optimized interior environment, which was enabled by an additive manufacturing process. A clever navigation system – developed by StelLab – incorporates a spatialization element for the directional sound functions, and sound projectors – by American start-up Subpac – were integrated into the vehicle’s seats to transfer bass frequencies through to the user.
“This is the first time that a concept car design has incorporated sound to such an extent,” says Peugeot’s head of concept cars and advanced design, Matthias Hossann. It all sounds (pun intended) very cool.
The interior, designed by Mattieu Hagnere, is said to reveal a prospective design for the Peugeot i-Cockpit that first appeared on the SR1 concept car in 2010 and later incorporated into the 308 production model. It explores the sense of hearing in addition to sight and touch. Inspired by auditoriums and recording studios and featuring colors and materials such as black oak wood, copper and turned metal, Peugeot says 82 percent of the interior has been created using 3D printing. This includes 3D-printed anechoic motifs to enhance acoustic comfort and 3D textile mesh covering the seats.
“Peugeot Fractal also innovates by bringing materials first seen on the Onyx to the B segment,” adds Hossann. “3D printing and the use of generative design ensure the highest standards in efficiency.”
Hi-tech visual and tactile functions haven’t been overlooked either, with a holographic head-up display and a 45-degree polycarbonate strip that runs through the instrument cluster and center console to provide all driver information. Thumb-controlled touchpad sensors have also been integrated into each of the compact steering wheel’s two spokes.
The exterior design, by Sebastien Criquet, furthers Peugeot’s recent design themes as seen on the Onyx and Exalt show cars. There is a clear division of the front and rear via the French firm’s now familiar ‘coupe franche’ division, which separates the front and rear with two contrasting colorways — in this case white and black. Perhaps taking a page out of Cadillac’s hugely successful DRL graphic, the Fractal’s DRG extends from the base of the bumper all the way over the headlamps into the front fender, with the turn signal indicators replicating the sequential scrolling effect of the Ford Mustang’s rear taillamps.
The Peugeot Fractal concept also includes a variable ground clearance feature, which allows the vehicle to adapt to different types of terrain. The 70mm clearance for highway driving improves aerodynamics to boost range and battery life. The vehicle height can be increased to 110mm in urban environments to go over speed bumps, mount slight curbs and enter parking garages without ruining the undercarriage.