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by Tim Beissmann

PSA Peugeot Citroen has revealed details of an innovative new fuel-efficient Hybrid Air propulsion system that it plans to put into it small and city-sized production cars by 2016.

The Hybrid Air system is an alternative to a conventional petrol-electric hybrid set-up, with a compressed air tank taking the place of a battery pack, providing zero-emission driving ability in urban conditions and extending vehicle range.

PSA Peugeot Citroen says affordability is one of the major benefits of the Hybrid Air system, with the technology significantly cheaper for car makers to install than a battery-powered hybrid system – and therefore cheaper for new-car customers at the dealership.

 

The French auto group has plans to fit the Hybrid Air system to city cars and small cars with 61kW and 82kW petrol engines respectively, as well as to light commercial vehicles.

PSA estimates a Hybrid Air-equipped vehicle the size of the Citroen C3 or Peugeot 208 would achieve combined cycle fuel consumption figures of 2.9 litres per 100km and average CO2 emissions of roughly 69 grams per kilometre.

Similar to a conventional hybrid, the system can be operated in three modes: petrol power, with the petrol engine as the sole source of propulsion; air power, with the hydraulic motor alone transmitting energy to the wheels via the accumulators; and combined power, with the internal combustion engine and hydraulic motor working together.

PSA says its new hybrid system can lead to fuel savings of up to 45 per cent in city driving, translating to a 90 per cent increase in driving range compared with conventional engines with the same power outputs.

With the air tank stored beneath the car, PSA says its Hybrid Air system does not compromise boot capacity like the battery packs of conventional hybrids.

PSA says another advantage of Hybrid Air is its global viability, with the technology unaffected by climate and not reliant on an extensive maintenance network.