- Peugeot has announced details of an unusual hybrid driveline that harnesses compressed air to assist a gasoline engine rather than a battery and electric motor.
- Peugeot says the Hybrid Air system could improve the fuel economy of a Ford Fiesta or a Ford Focus-sized car by as much as 45 percent.
- The automaker plans to use the system in powertrains producing between 80 and 100 horsepower by 2016.
VELIZY-VILLACOUBLAY, France — In what could be a major game-changer for hybrid vehicles, French manufacturer Peugeot has announced details of an unusual hybrid driveline that harnesses compressed air to assist a gasoline engine rather than a battery and electric motor.
Peugeot says the system, which it calls Hybrid Air, could improve the fuel economy of a Ford Fiesta or Ford Focus-sized car by as much as 45 percent.
The Hybrid Air system weighs around 220 pounds, about half the weight of a conventional electric hybrid. It is much simpler than current systems and uses no rare metals or materials that are difficult to recycle. Peugeot plans to use it in powertrains producing between 80 and 100 horsepower and says it will launch cars and vans with the system in 2016.
The system works by harvesting the kinetic energy shed while braking and coasting to pressurize a tank with air.
That pressurized air drives a hydraulic motor that assists the gasoline engine via an epicyclic gear set.
The same hydraulic motor pressurises the tank, which is located under the car, when braking.
The system allows the car to be driven by the gasoline engine, the hydraulic engine or a combination of the two, although compressed air propulsion usage alone will be largely urban, with the car's maximum speed in this mode limited to 43 mph. In this mode it will be zero emission, and Peugeot says that compressed air assistance will be available 60-80 percent of the time in city driving.
Edmunds says: Harvesting and redeploying kinetic energy is the aim of a hybrid and this ingenious compressed air system could ultimately be a simpler and cheaper means to that end.