Reports claim that development of the Hybrid Air system by PSA Peugeot Citroen has been put on hold after the departure of the programme’s chief and an unsuccessful search to find an automotive partner with whom to share costs with.
According to a report in French business newspaper Les Echos, development of Hybrid Air technology has stalled. One reason cited is that Karim Mokaddem, Hybrid Air’s project leader, left PSA in late September to take up employment with a technology investment fund. Since then the team of 180 engineers assigned to the programme has “withered”.
To make the technology production ready PSA Peugeot Citroen estimated that it needed to invest another 500 million euros ($710 million). With money tight, the company determined that it needed to partner up with another automaker in order share costs and give the tech more scale.
To this end it has approached Ford, its diesel engine co-conspirator, as well as Dongfeng, its Chinese manufacturing partner which helped to bail out the French car maker early last year. One source who spoke to Les Echos said, “The Chinese were interested … but when you do not have the full support internally, it is complicated”.
A PSA spokeswoman told Automotive News Europe that the company had “no plans to cancel the project”. She did corroborate other parts of the French newspaper’s report, though, stating that the programme’s pool of 180 engineers had been reduced and that PSA is “now waiting for another partner to help us begin the production stage”.
Conventional hybrid drivetrains store recovered braking energy, as well as excess power from the internal combustion engine, in a battery pack. PSA’s Hybrid Air system stores its recovered and excess energy in compressed air tanks, while the secondary engine is a hydraulic motor instead of an electric engine.
The system was last shown on the world stage at the 2014 Paris motor show in the Peugeot 208 Hybrid Air 2L prototype.