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Peugeot Making Progress On Production Hybrid Air Concept

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On: Thu, Nov 7, 2013 at 1:36PM | By: Chris Weiss

Peugeot Making Progress On Production Hybrid Air Concept

Modern battery technology is both the reason that EVs and plug-in hybrids exist and the reason we don't see more of them. While batteries a're the life blood of EVs, allowing them to store the energy necessary to power their electric motors, they're also the downfall, possessing insufficient storage capacity to deliver anywhere near gas-vehicle range, slowing down the refueling (charging) process, and adding lots of weight and expense. 

Earlier this year, Peugeot revealed a concept that could replace batteries with an innovative alternative energy-storage system. Its Hybrid Air technology uses compressed air as a means of energy storage, replacing costly, insufficient batteries. It had the makings of a fanciful concept, but the company is reportedly progressing with the design. Auto Express reports that the Hybrid Air technology is on track for production and could debut as early as 2015. That confirms that the technology is still being prepped for production, and ups the possible launch from the 2016 date Peugeot gave when it first announced Hybrid Air in January.

Like other hybrids, the Hybrid Air concept combines two separate powertrains. Unlike other production hybrids, the second powertrain is not a battery-powered electric motor but a hydraulic motor-pump powered by a compressed air tank. Similar to regenerative braking for battery charging, the Hybrid Air system's motor-pump sends air back into the tank when braking and decelerating, providing "recharging" in transit. It does not appear that the system will require external fill-ups, but the details are still limited. Even if it did, filling up a compressed air tank should be much quicker than charging a battery.

That motor can offer zero emissions driving and can be paired with the small gas engine for hybrid driving. Each engine can also operate on its own, and the car's onboard computer selects the mode most suitable for the driving conditions.

While Hybrid Air won't compete with the VW XL's 261 mpg, it will offer still-impressive returns in the range of 100 mpg/ 2.9 l/km. According to AE's report, it may be able to improve upon that even further, up to the 140-mpg range. Peugeot lists expected CO2 emissions at 69 g/km.

In addition to other previously mentioned benefits, the Hybrid Air system isn't affected by climate or weather, the way batteries are. The system wouldn't degrade over time, the way batteries do, and would require little maintenance. The long, thin compressed air tank is centrally mounted and doesn't affect passenger or cargo space.

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