Although Tavares didn’t mentioned the E-Tense by name, an image of the 402bhp Geneva concept appeared within the presentation that accompanied his speech.
At the very least, this hints that the technology which underpins E-Tense will be used beneath an electric version of one of the five new models DS is planning to introduce during the next five years.
According to Tavares's presentation, DS’s key goals during the next phase of PSA’s development are to continue to build its brand and to improve ‘pricing power’ compared with premium rivals. A striking halo model such as E-Tense could be an effective way to achieve these targets, while at the same time highlighting the potential PSA’s electric powertrain technology.
“We recognise that there is an electrification under way and by 2019 we will bring the PSA technology in petrol plug-in hybrids and the second-generation electric powertrain technology,” said Tavares today, referring to the PSA Group's overall strategy for low-emissions vehicles.
“Before 2021 we will have seven vehicles with petrol plug-in hybrid technology, four new electric vehicles and an all-wheel-drive electric technology available in our top-of-the-range cars.”
Although a concept, the E-Tense was built to production car standards by DS so that it can be used as a technology demonstrator, and at the Geneva show company chiefs didn’t completely rule out making a road-going version.
Asked in Geneva if the concept would reach production, Tavares himself said: “In the next two years? No. It takes time to build a brand that has the pricing power to sell a big-ticket item like this. But I have learned in this business to never say never. I accept that we will need a halo car for the DS brand, but whether it will be this car, you must wait and see.”
DS is expected to begin launching an all-new six-model line-up in mid-2018, with a large saloon and SUV tipped as the flagship models. Tavares has told DS bosses to build brand awareness through initiatives such as Formula E racing and to avoid heavy discounting.
“If we sell at discounts, we will spoil the long-term story of being the only French premium brand,” he said. “We must build profitability, not scale.”
DS revealed the new carbonfibre-bodied electric supercar concept at the Geneva motor show.
The E-Tense has, in effect, been made to production standards and everything on the concept is entirely viable, from the all-electric drivetrain to the way that pedestrian impact standards have been considered in its design.
The E-Tense is built around a central carbonfibre tub, with an aluminium subframe at each end. Suspension is by double wishbones at all four corners and under the rear bodywork are two Siemens AC electric motors that produce a total output of 402bhp.
Rather than a one-motor-per-wheel set-up, however, both motors turn a common shaft, with the thinking being that two motors are lighter and easier to package than a single high-output motor.
Drive goes into a three-speed gearbox and then an active differential that biases torque across the rear axle. Power comes from a 53kWh battery pack mounted under the floor, itself fed by a rear-mounted high-speed charger. The battery pack weighs less than 500kg and the total weight of the car is around 1800kg.
The elegant lines were produced using a state-of-the-art live CAD system, which enabled virtual aerodynamic modelling. The slightly Lamborghini-like side profile is designed to help channel airflow at speed. A large carbonfibre diffuser is used at the rear to improve aerodynamic downforce.
There’s no rear window. Instead, a rear-view camera system relays an image from the back of the car to a ‘mirror’ display in the cockpit, a feature that is already destined for production in at least one future DS. The E-Tense also has windscreen wipers and door mirrors.
The headlights have four jewel-like movable units that allow for different intensity and beam patterns. Eric Opode, DS’s product development boss, said they are patented and production ready.
The striking interior features a central display screen mounted on an elaborately shaped dashboard extrusion. Hand-painted leather panels and seats have taken nearly 800 hours of work in a prototype trim shop. There’s also an in-built, centre console-mounted BRM watch that owners can remove when they leave the car.
The tyres are Michelin Pilot Super Sports (305/30 R20 at the back) and have a chamfered finish, designed to make them feel like velvet.
Additional reporting by Mike Duff