PARIS - Jean-Pierre Ploue, Citroen's new chief designer, brought his vision of the future to the Paris auto show last month in the form of the Osmose concept car.
Ploue, 37, joined Citroen nine months ago after design jobs at Ford, Volkswagen and Renault.
He has spent his time so far developing his strategy at Citroen, and preparing the purely conceptual Osmose city car.
The Osmose is a car that interacts with pedestrians. It has an open rear end that allows passengers to jump in and out when it stops. It uses a hybrid drive system with solar panels providing an additional source of energy.
'Osmose is a first manifesto,' Ploue says. 'In this case, the concept comes first. The target beyond that is to propose innovative architectures with always the same idea - to bring pleasure to the customer.'
He defines three main features for Citroen styling:
'We will make all these [features] visible,' says Ploue.
'Emotion refers to poetry, sensuality,' he says. 'We will encourage these elements with Citroen's typically unusual equilibrium, and with an expressive styling that reflects architecture.'
Referring to feeling, or sensation, Ploue says 'a Citroen is never inert, even when it does not move. It's a lively car. Just think of the 2CV, DS or XM. We want the driver or passenger to think he is in a Citroen, and not in any other car.
'Well-being means purity in line and shape, and a specific treatment for light. It implies a strong architecture, just like the Picasso or Pluriel.'
Ploue does not think his job will involve any upheaval at Cit-roen. 'We want to lead an evolution rather than a revolution, to prepare the car of the future,' he says. 'We would like to speed up [the evolution of] the brand image.
'We will try to go beyond what is considered a classical range. We will be helped in this process by the C vehicles - the C3, C5, C6 and so on - and by niche vehicles like Picasso or Pluriel.
'Today,' Ploue says, 'segments and prices are split. This means that in a defined segment, you can find cars that refer to social status, or to lifestyle, or to brand image.
'Citroen is lucky because it has two strong poles. One is its upper-range capabilities, especially outside France. The other refers to small, popular, entertaining cars. You can sum up this with couples: the 2CV and the DS, Pluriel and C6. We will make the rest of the Citroen range converge from these two poles.'
Ploue says Citroen's styling will stick to 'pure lines and simple volumes. Our style will be expressive, but we'll exclude extreme, complicated, non-elegant options.'