Peugeot has teamed up with sound designer and producer Amon Tobin to create a sound-themed concept car. The Peugeot Fractal is described as an "electric urban coupé" that explores the sense of sound to improve the experience of driving. It features a host of cutting-edge audio technologies.
From 2019, electric cars in Europe will be required to emit sound so that pedestrians and other road-users can hear them coming. This was the inspiration for the Fractal, which was conceived for Peugeot to think about what sounds an electric car might create. It also provided an opportunity to see how sound could be used to improve the driving experience, such as if it could be used help the driver remain focused.
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The Fractal is said to have its own "unique sound signature" to ensure other road users are made aware of its proximity to them, as well as interior noises to help "make driving more instinctive." Noises for the opening and closing of doors, acceleration and deceleration have also all been considered. Tobin suggests that one day we may be able to choose our own sound profiles for our cars, and gives the example of being able to make a car sound like a Podracer during acceleration.
Peugeot's StelLab research unit designed what it calls a "9.1.2" sound system for the car. The system is so-called as it provides a numerical explanation of its number of speakers, bass-boxes and other sound elements. In addition to high-quality Focal speakers, the system employs a two-channel Subpac tactile bass system that is integrated into the back of each seat. This allows occupants to feel rather than just hear the bass.
The sound system was designed to complement Peugeot's i-Cockpit, which provides a sporty driving position, a compact steering wheel, head-up instruments and a touchscreen interface. It allows sound to be positioned around the interior of the car. In addition, quiet Tall&Narrow tires are used to minimize interior noise, and the materials used inside the car are inspired by auditoriums and recording studios to enhance the internal acoustics.
The Fractal itself is compact, at 3.81 m (12.5 ft) long and 1.77 m (5.8 ft) wide. It has a removable roof that turns the coupé into a cabriolet, and has been designed for much of its functionality to be controlled via a Samsung Gear S smartwatch. The watch can provide battery-charge info, remaining charging time, interior temperature and vehicle location. It can also be used to provide one-touch access to open the doors and to customize interior features like the air conditioning and sound system. Elsewhere, the Fractal features an LED strip across its rear that shows the battery charge level and that also acts as rear lights.
The Fractal has a 30 kWh lithium-ion battery that powers front- and rear-axle electric motors to the tune of 150 kW (204 hp). Weighing 1,000 kg (2,205 lb), this means the car can accelerate to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 6.8 seconds. It has a quoted range of up to 450 km (280 mi) and variable ground clearance that means it can adapt to different types of terrain.
The video below provides an introduction to the Peugeot Fractal.