Peugeot, Citroen look to electric future – with added style

  • 08-Feb-2010 09:50 EST
Peugeot2-10 ANNI SR1.jpg

Peugeot's SR1 concept uses hybrid technology and signals the company's new styling direction.

In the wide world of the auto industry, Peugeot has a history that many may envy: this year marks the 200th anniversary of the founding of the company. But while Peugeot is proud of its past, its emphasis is very much on the future, with the use of new technology applied to a broad family of new models.

Pure electric drive—it is going ahead with a production program for its offbeat 2.5 m (8.2 ft) long BB1—is set to become a significant element. Peugeot is also focusing on more distinctive styling, added quality, and enhancement of its international presence. But not in the U.S.— at least, not in the foreseeable future.

Interviewed by AEI, Peugeot Managing Director, Jean-Marc Gales, said there were “no plans at present” to enter the North American market: “But you can never say never! We want to grow and we have ambitious plans for Peugeot, but partnerships are indispensable to reduce costs. Within three years, we want to become one of the top three in JD Power’s service measurement in Europe and one of the European mobility leaders.”

These plans include 14 new models over the next three years, with new engines and an anticipated jump from 10th to 7th position on the list of global manufacturers.

Peugeot is focusing on emerging markets, notably China (with a 408 sedan), Russia, and Latin America, where it will introduce a new pickup. It is also concentrating on giving its future models the sort of “character” that its more interesting cars had in the past, notably the 205. Marketing Director Xaviar Peugeot describes this as “motion and emotion,” a phrase that the company is using in its worldwide communications.

The new RCZ sports coupé with its “double-bubble” roof and rear window styling is an example. The rear window, formed from acrylic on the concept, is glass on the production car. A hybrid version of the RCZ, like the SR1, would have an IC (internal combustion) engine driving the front wheels and an electric motor the rear, is under consideration, said Gales, who is enthusiastic (emotional) about the potential of the technology in the car. “The project is one of my wishes—but its economic feasibility has still to be decided.”

A new range of gasoline hybrids is planned from 2012 alongside a plug-in diesel hybrid. Until now, Peugeot had put all the emphasis on diesel-hybrids, but Gales believes there is a growing need for both.

Peugeot has just announced details of its e-HDi micro-hybrid diesel technology, claimed to reduce emissions by some 15%. The engine will be available across the HDi engine range and will be used in the 147-kW (197-hp) 3008 crossover diesel full-hybrid (with ZEV mode) having CO2 emissions of 99 g/km and fuel consumption of 3.8 L/100 km. On sale in Q1 2011, it is expected to be the first diesel-hybrid car on the market. “We will offer that drivetrain (HYbrid4 with supplementary electric motor at the rear) on other Peugeot models in the future,” said Gales.

In 2012, Peugeot will introduce its plug-in HYbrid4 (driving the rear wheels of a vehicle) technology. Targets for its first applications include (the 3008 crossover) producing sub-50 g/km CO2 emissions and a fuel consumption of 2.0 L/100 km.

It is fitted to the company’s new SR1 concept unveiled in January. A 2+1 “grand-touring roadster,” it is a significant indicator of the design cues of Peugeots to come. It has a 1.6-L gasoline engine producing 160 kW (215 hp) driving the front wheels and a 70-kW electric motor driving the rear. The car will make its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March.

The company’s Mitsubishi iMiEV-based iOn pure electric car will be on sale late this year. A four-seater capable of 130 km/h (81 mph) and a range of 130 km (81 mi), it uses lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries with a full recharge time of 6 h or 80% in 30 min.

And significantly, Gales has given the go-ahead to the BB1. A pure electric original concept seen at last year's Frankfurt Motor Show, it is a four-seater that is really a quadricycle, cross-linking car and scooter design and technology, the latter also a significant part of Peugeot’s products.

Gales said the production version of the BB1, with its tubular chassis produced by Peugeot Scooters will “not be exactly as seen today in concept form.” The project is in its very early stages, and the company is now working on homolgation issues. BB1 uses electric motors mounted at its rear wheels that have been co-designed with Michelin.

Peugeot is also looking to extrapolate its electric vehicle philosophy to a power-assisted bicycle developed in partnership with Ultra Motor that would have a 36-V Li-ion battery to provide a 70-km (43-mi) range. It is also planning to introduce the V-Vivacity, a 100% electric scooter, again with a Li-ion battery with a full recharge time of 4 h. Its range will be up to 100 km (62-mi). Running costs are quoted at €0.4/100 km.

Sister company Citroën (the two forming PSA Peugeot Citroën) is also moving forward in the electric-car area. It has already built some 5500 electric vehicles. The pure electric C-Zero is, like Peugeot’s iOn, Citroën’s version of the Mitsubishi iMiEV and was seen in January at the Brussels Motor Show. It delivers 47 kW and maximum torque of 180 N·m (133 lb·ft). Like the iOn, it seats four within an overall length of 3.48 m (11.4 ft). Turning circle is 9 m (30 ft).

Citroën’s REVOLTe concept, seen at last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, with “re-chargeable hybrid powertrain,” is a three-seater. Overall length is 3.68 m (12.1 ft). It has some design cues that hint at the 2CV and in some respects links in to the Cactus concept. But that extreme car showed what a vehicle devoid of non-essential features (no dashboard) and using extensively recycled materials might be like.

There is no suggestion that the Cactus in its ultra-basic concept form will make production. but elements of its design are being taken seriously by Citroën. A low-cost model of this type is not likely to be built as a separate brand such as Renault’s Logan, though. Powertrain of a lightweight, basic Cactus-like Citroën could be PSA’s Hymotion2 diesel-electric hybrid with a target fuel consumption of around 3.0 L/100 km.

Citroën has also been able to claim its C4 WRC HYbrid4 as the first WRC competition car equipped with a hybrid energy recovery system.

Like Peugeot, Citroën, too, is shooting to increase the character and quality of its models and is introducing the C3 based (but distinctively different) DS3 as part of a long-term strategic plan.

A Mini rival with coupe overtones, it has very distinctive (but not retro apart from the DS nomenclature) styling, particularly at the front end and with a floating-effect roof. DS3 customers can select seven personalization themes.

A four- or five-seater, it is 3.95 m (13.0 ft) long with an engine choice of two diesel (one with a particulate filter getting CO2 emissions down to 99 g/km) and three gasoline engines, the most powerful producing 110 kW (148 hp).

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