Peugeot Citroen shows new petrol-air hybrid tech

22 Jan, 2013 6:47pm Tom Phillips

PSA Peugeot Citroen has revealed a new platform and hybrid drivetrain

PSA Peugeot Citroen has revealed details of its new petrol-compressed air hybrid drivetrain alongside a new modular platform.

The hybrid system - which is called Hybrid Air - combines a conventional petrol engine and automatic gearbox with a hydraulic pump and motor that are powered by compressed air.

In the setup shown in a current Citroen C3, the engine, transmission, pump and motor are located in the engine bay, while the compressed air is stored in a tank that runs between the front seats.

The Hybrid Air system can operate in zero emissions air mode, where compressed air is used to drive the hydraulic motor, which then turns the transmission and thus the front wheels. It can also operate in petrol-engine-only mode, or petrol and air in combination.

Like a current petrol-electric hybrid, the drivetrain is electronically controlled and automatically selects the power source most appropriate to the driving conditions. The compressed air tank is refilled by the hydraulic pump under deceleration or braking.

The petrol-compressed air hybrid system will make its debut in a B-segment car in 2016 and, if used in the current Peugeot 208 or Citroen C3, the powertrain returns 97.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 69g/km.

PSA Peugeot Citroen claims that the Hybrid Air drivetrain offers a 45 per cent improvement in fuel economy in urban driving over a conventional petrol engine, thanks to the fact that the air system powers the car between 60 and 80 per cent of the time at speeds below 43mph.

The firm also claims that the Hybrid Air system can extend a car’s range by up to 90 per cent, and gives overall fuel savings of around 35 per cent.

PSA is looking to use the Hybrid Air technology in B-segment cars like the Peugeot 208 and Citroen C3 with an 82bhp petrol engine; and C-segment cars like the Peugoet 308 and Citroen C4 with a 110bhp petrol engine. The arrival of the new tech marks a step forward in the firm's goal of developing and marketing a 2l/100km (141.2mpg) car by 2020.

PSA Peugeot Citroen also showed its new EMP2 platform. Short for Efficient Modular Platform 2 and similar in concept to the VW Group’s new MQB setup, the new underpinnings can be used for hatchback, saloon, coupe, convertible, estate, MPV and SUV bodystyles. The C and D-segment platform is set to be used for around 50 per cent of PSA’s cars, but will be used first for the new Citroen C4 Picasso and Peugeot 308.

PSA claims that the new EMP2 is up to 70kg lighter than the platforms it replaces, and will help to cut CO2 emissions by up to 22 per cent.

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While I appreciate the French marques intention to cut emissions and increase fuel efficiency, I hope that this air hybrid technology is not merely a publicity stunt and that the Peugeot/Ciroen will be able to use this for practical ends. Good luck!

And that it will be reliable...

I thought that something powered by compressed air would be described as pneumatic. Hydraulic is used for compressed liquid drive isn't it?

If this is all PC can come up with, you know they are on their way out.

This is too intriguing an idea merely to be harrumphed at! It promises reduction in weight over hybrids with their environmentally nasty storage batteries whose performance is affected adversely by cold weather.
Should this technology prove workable the only practical disadvantages I can see are the pressure vessel regulations which require a certain inspection regime which would be costly. Perhaps these proposals excape these in some way.
As Fadyady says "Good luck".

It must need some very highly compressed air? in which case pressurising that air must sap power and performance and increase fuel usage. Also the air vessel must be a strong and possibly costly unit?

I don't see the advantage over the petrol/electric set up

Energy storage can be done with petrol, batteries or an air tank. Compressed air tanks are plentiful and much cheaper than a battery. They also have a very long life, probably greater than the car. The air turns a turbine which is much more efficient than a reciprocating engine. If only they would use a diesel engine in all hybrids! Yes, its pneumatic, not hydraulic!