Special Coverage

Frankfurt Auto Show

FRANKFURT – Aside from the Toyota Prius whose entire silhouette announces its uniqueness, most of the hybrid-electric vehicles at the auto show here express their powertrains discreetly, with a word or symbol.

But PSA Peugeot Citroen takes its green designations in diametric directions. The new Citroen DS5 diesel hybrid adds a modest “H” to its DS5 designation, raising the small 5 to the H power. But the Peugeot 508 RXH sedan uses a bronze paint color unique to that model.

The car also has a different grille treatment, aluminum farings, a special interior and six bands of light-emitting diodes brightening the lower fascia. The E48,900 ($68,500) model, in a limited edition of 300 units, is available only as a hybrid.

With the unveiling of the two hybrids at the show, the Peugeot 3008 HY4 already launched and a future sedan hybrid in the works, PSA will have four cars sharing the same powertrain: a 163-hp start/stop diesel up front and a module 27-hp electric motor on the rear axle.

Company executives already have suggested the hybridization will migrate to more vehicles. The 3008 HY4 is on PSA’s platform 2, and the other hybrid cars are on Platform 3. So there appears to be nothing manufacturing-wise to prevent high-volume cars such as the Peugeot 308 and Citroen C4 from adding hybrid models.

Bosch is an important supplier to PSA’s hybrid powertrain, providing the 8-kW stop/start alternator, rear-axle electric motor and power electronics. Other suppliers include Magenti Marelli (electronically controlled manual transmission), GKN (rear-axle gearing) and Delphi (engine controller).

Meanwhile, Citroen General Manager Frederic Banzet says the DS line puts the brand in “direct competition with premium brands.” And with the hybrid costing nearly E40,000 ($54,900), it clearly has penetrated the premium brands’ price territory.

Citroen has sold 110,000 DS3 models to date and taken 15,000 orders for the DS4, so the sub-brand is getting some recognition from the public. The DS5 will come to market late this year or in early 2012 in several European markets.

The DS5 hybrid will emit only 99 g/km of carbon dioxide, joining the ranks of other brand products that qualify for government bonuses in France and other countries.

Banzet says Citroen has sold 2,600 electric Berlingo First vans and Citroen C-Zero small cars. The C3 hatchback will get PSA’s second-generation stop/start system this year, lowering its CO2 emissions to 87 g/km.

Citroen also presents a droll, 2-tone concept van here, called the Tubic, which it says is the brand’s vision of a future 9-passenger shuttle vehicle. The white face is set off by a dark gray body, giving it a cartoonish look.

At Peugeot, General Manager Vincent Rambaud says the 508 RXH will contribute to the enhancement of the brand, one of two strategic goals. The other is internationalization, which is being pursued in China and with a newly announced plant in India. But making only 300 hybrid units won’t do much for globalization.

Peugeot also shows here its HX1 concept car that could foreshadow features of a replacement for the 607. When the 508 was announced, it was said to be a replacement for both the 407 and the 607. But Peugeot evidently changed its mind when it resolved to move upscale.

The concept has active body panels that slightly change the car’s shape to improve stability and aerodynamics at high speeds, along with moving spoilers and active wheel spokes.