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PARIS – Automobile Citroen’s introduction of a big hybrid cross/utility vehicle concept with 4-wheel drive, the Hypnos, may hint at the direction the brand will take to replace the C6, which is coming to the end of its career.

Gilles Michel, general manager of the brand, says given the current outlook, the C6 won’t be replaced with another big sedan. But the brand will need something new at the top of its range, he adds.

In the meantime, he says, the C5 is selling well, with a large proportion of the cars in the highest trim level.

A crossover silhouette fits with Citroen’s strength in the market selling vehicles with roomy interiors. Its C4 Picasso minivan is its segment leader at 25% of the market, ahead of the Renault Scenic model that started the trend, and the Citroen Berlingo is the best-selling small van, outpacing its Peugeot twin despite Peugeot’s bigger sales network.

PSA Peugeot Citroen CEO Christian Streiff previously announced PSA is developing a new entry-level car platform that will be manufactured and sold in emerging markets in 2011, but will not be imported into Europe.

Besides going for interior volume, Citroen is pushing its market position as a leader for high mileage and low carbon-dioxide emissions. Streiff says his company is planning to have hybrid powertrains on 50% of its cars in the next decade, beginning in 2011 with models such as the Citroen C4 and Peugeot 308.

At the same time, PSA will begin manufacturing its new 3-cyl. gasoline engine for entry-level vehicles that will emit less than 100 g/km of CO2, and cost no more than today’s powertrains.

Citroen, like Peugeot, will begin spreading a new generation of stop/start micro-hybrid technology across its range of gasoline and diesel engines in 2010. The new system will use a more powerful starter-alternator that, unlike the current system, will capture some braking energy for the battery.

Already, half the brand’s vehicles by sales volume emit less than 140 g/km of CO2, and 30% are rated at 120 g/km or less.

The Hypnos uses what Citroen calls HYmotion 4, because all four wheels provide traction. The C4 HYmotion2 concept is a C4 with hybridization on the front wheels only. It weighs 3,108 lbs. (1,410 kg), including 243 lbs. (110 kg) attributable to the additional hybrid hardware.

A computer chip controls braking, dividing the task between the regular hydraulic brakes and the electric motor that recuperates energy during braking. A second chip, which Citroen calls the Power Train Management Unit, controls the 110-hp 1.6L Hdi diesel, the stop/start system and the 22-hp electric motor.

The 202-volt nickel-metal-hydride battery has a capacity of 5.5 Ah, enough to drive the car 1.9 miles (3 km) on electricity alone at low speeds.

Consumption is 69 mpg (3.4 L/100 km), equaling CO2 emissions of 90 g/km.

A version in race livery linked to a gasoline engine looks forward to the day when World Rally Championship racing allows hybrids.

The Hypnos, a big diesel hybrid, weighs 3,968 lbs. (1,800 kg). The HYmotion4 powertrain in the Hypnos has the electric motor on the rear axle, as well as the stop/start micro hybrid technology regulating the engine.

Hypnos is longer and wider than the C4 hybrid. The 2.0L Hdi makes 200 hp, and the electric motor can add 50 hp. The electric-only range is 1.9 miles at 31 mph (50 km/h).

Consumption is 52 mpg (4.5 L/100 km), for a CO2 rating of 120 g/km.

Meanwhile, Citroen filled its stand with several other premieres:

  • A HYmotion3 scooter concept with electric motors in each of the front wheels, and the engine driving the rear wheel.
  • A C3 Pluriel Charleston, in the black and violet colors of the 2CV Charleston.
  • A 2CV Hermes, a 1989 model redecorated in luxury to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the 2CV on Oct. 7.
  • Two C3 Picasso minivans in special colors and materials, as well as the C3 Picasso that will come to market.
  • Snow Motion, a new technology to improve traction on snowy roads.

Citroen also introduced a virtual concept car, GTbyCitroen, for the Gran Turismo 5 video game on PlayStation3. This concept is powered by a virtual fuel-cell that will give it performance to battle the other virtual racecars on the track. While the concept is virtual, Citroen made a fullsize model of the car for the show.