Peugeot QUARTZ Plug-In Hybrid Crossover (CONCEPT)

Written By: Brittney B.

                                                       Peugeot quartz PHEV concept

From factory closings to a government buy-out, Peugeot has undergone quite a few changes in direction throughout the past few years. However, the automaker's latest move could be a sign that its sights are firmly focused on the future. In September 2014, the French favorite turned heads at the Paris Motor Show with a brand new concept: the Peugeot Quartz.

This hybrid plug-in crossover isn't the first Peugeot vehicle that can be powered by electricity, but it does deviate from the company's previous electric efforts, namely because it's an exclusive piece of technology. The Peugeot iOn, on the other hand, was first sold as the Mitsubishi i-MiEV in many countries. Thousands of units have sold since 2009, but with so many other electric cars joining the market, that car's fate is uncertain. In fact, one executive claimed in May 2014 that the company would reconsider its Mitsubishi partnership within the next year. The Quartz could be Peugeot's indication that they're cutting their electric losses, and refocusing on a different class while they're at it.

Experimental design strategies

Most concept vehicles are created to showcase or preview new technologies and design strategies. The Quartz serves those purposes for Peugeot, but it's foremost an experimental exercise. Some of its futuristic details may pop up again in future production models, but for now, they're just an exciting glimpse at the creativity and sustainability that could drive the brand in the years to come. To put it simply, the Quartz feels more like play than work.

True to its shiny mineral namesake, some of the Quartz's most distinctive features are the materials that compose it. Stiff carbon fiber makes up the streamlined body — which has no central door pillar, making way for those four scissor-opening doors — and a glass roof. Inside, you'll find a center console made of basalt, a light but strong type of volcanic rock, as well as fabric that was digitally woven with recycled plastic fibers. This innovative process eliminates textile waste, while the basalt is also a practical element, because it naturally occurs throughout the world every time magma cools quickly in the right conditions.

Peugeot QUARTZ PHEV Concept

Best of both worlds

Of course, no hybrid crossover is impressive without a decent drivetrain, and Peugeot has delivered one that can get up to 500 horsepower. It includes a 1.6-liter combustion engine that gets some of the most impressive torque and power of its kind, as well as a 400V battery and electric motors in both the front and rear axles. The plug-in battery can power the Quartz for up to 50 km (or 31 miles), but you can also drive with the engine and one or both motors, which pitch in to charge the battery further during braking and acceleration.

The Quartz also offers an interesting spin on some tired car and SUV tropes. For example, a retractable step only emerges when the doors pivot upward — rather than sliding sideways like a van, or opening outwards like most traditional consumer-class vehicles. Beneath this exterior, which resembles the curved shell of a winged creature, is an interior that's decidedly mechanical and human-oriented. Exposed bucket seats, a 45-degree strip addition to the screen, and an angled instrument panel help turn the cabin space into a combination between a cockpit and a recording studio.

This combination of new and old is a running theme for Peugeot, which has been making cars since 1889 and is most famous for its international motor sport legacy. It's fitting, then, that the company would choose a hybrid crossover — a vehicle that represents similar dichotomies, between car and SUV and between engine and battery — to make another big push towards a more sustainable green future.