Peugeot Set to Unveil Latest HYbrid Air Tech at Paris Motor Show
One piece of news that caught the eye last year was the introduction of Peugeot’s HYbrid Air technology, and the automaker is set to unveil the latest version of its innovative powertrain with the 208 HYbrid Air 2L Demonstrator concept vehicle at October’s Paris Motor Show.
With the potential to meet the French Government’s efficiency target of 2 litres per 100km (or 141mpg) by 2020, the hybrid that runs on fresh air is worth a closer look.
The vehicle is based on the standard Peugeot 208, and combines compressed air and hydraulic power with a 1.2 litre petrol engine. The system consists of three parts:
· A compressed air tank located below the boot
· A low-pressure tank near the rear axle which acts as an expansion chamber
· A hydraulic system comprising a motor and a pump in the engine bay
The compressed air tank is recharged when the vehicle brakes or decelerates, or by using the energy produced by the engine. Both methods can achieve maximum pressure within ten seconds, and the air pressure is then used to power the hydraulic motor; which can operate on its own or in tandem with the petrol engine.
The car has three different driving modes, and uses a bespoke ‘epicyclic’ transmission to select the best balance between the two energy sources to achieve the highest possible fuel efficiency.
In Air (ZEV) mode, the vehicle is powered by compressed air alone, and emits zero emissions; ideal for city driving.
In petrol mode the hybrid system is isolated and the car is propelled by the engine alone. This mode is designed for steady state driving at higher speeds on main roads and motorways.
The combined mode draws on both power sources to strike a balance between petrol and air consumption. This is designed for urban driving, in stop/start conditions. The engine power may be required for acceleration from a standing start, but the vehicle will automatically utilise the right proportion of air power when possible to reduce fuel consumption.
Although the concept vehicle is based on the standard 208, Peugeot engineers have made a number of improvements to reduce weight and improve aerodynamics to help achieve the impressive efficiency figures.
The weight of the production car has been reduced by 100kg, and the hybrid weighs in at just 860kg. Peugeot engineers undertook a meticulous selection process to choose materials that were compatible with existing production facilities and could feasibly be used for mass manufacturing. The result is a combination of steel, aluminium and composites.
Carbon composite materials are used for the body panels, sides, doors and roof, and the coil springs for the suspension; and where possible steel parts have been replaced with aluminium. Peugeot has also assessed existing parts for improvement, such as the exhaust system, where the thickness of the stainless steel has been reduced, resulting in a 20% weight saving on that part alone.
The car has also been optimised for aerodynamics, and Peugeot has made several changes to improve fuel efficiency, including giving the car a lower stance. The windscreen surround has been smoothed out, a boot-lid mounted spoiler has been fitted, and an air extractor has been added to the underside of the vehicle. The wing-mirrors have been replaced with slimmer mirrors to reduce drag, and the car is fitted with low rolling resistance tyres complete with aerodynamic hub caps.
The engine has not escaped attention either, and Peugeot worked on reducing friction from its PureTech unit, which accounts for around 20% of generated power. The camshafts and pistons have been covered in a Diamond-Like Carbon (DLC) coating, which improves engine efficiency by a significant 4%.
All eyes will be on the Paris Motor Show in October when Peugeot unveil the latest vehicle and release more details about the concept. When the technology was previously announced, Peugeot said that it aimed to have the system production-ready for 2015, although there has been no update on this since. It may be that the automaker is set to reveal that news at the Motor Show, and it will certainly be interesting to see if there are any new developments next month.
The 2L demonstrator vehicle takes its name from the target it aims to meet; the French Government’s mandate of producing a vehicle that achieves fuel efficiency of 2 litres per 100km. If the concept is as efficient as Peugeot say it is, the 141mpg quoted would equate to CO2 emissions of just 46g/km. If the technology can be brought to production, it could rank as a serious competitor to the more conventional electric hybrid powertrain; and perhaps one day we’ll all be driving on nothing but fresh air!