Special Coverage

Geneva
Auto Show

GENEVA – Automobiles Peugeot is developing a diesel-hybrid racecar that it will present later this year.

The French auto maker, whose diesel-powered 908 entry finished second at LeMans in 2007, is trying to show its strength in fuel economy.

Since 2001, Peugeot has sold more than 1.1 million cars emitting less than 120 g/km of carbon dioxide, new Managing Director Jean-Philippe Collin says.

The 908 diesel last year made three extra loops around the LeMans track because it still had fuel left. Not surprisingly, Collin says Peugeot aims to win the race this year.

Peugeot’s diesel-hybrid racecar recalls the hybrid racer presented in Detroit more than a decade ago by Francois Castaing, who headed the former Chrysler Corp.’s engineering department.

Then as now, the idea was to demonstrate that a hybrid need not be a “sensible” green car.

Meanwhile, Collin presents the 308SW station wagon at the show, along with passenger versions of the Partner and Bipper commercial vans.

He counts on sales of 350,000 308 models this year. The 5-door was introduced last year, followed by the 3-door version, and now the SW. The 308 has two new 6-speed manual transmissions.

A new 1.6L THP gasoline engine, developed with BMW AG, also will be available. The engine makes 175 hp at 6,000 rpm. Models with this engine will offer a fuel economy of 31 mpg (7.6 L/100 km), producing 180 g/km of CO2.

The 308RC Z, first shown at the Frankfurt motor show last year, is on the Peugeot stand, as well, but Collin declines to confirm its production. “We have not yet decided,” he says.

However, Collin’s description of the high-performance car, which should get good fuel economy using the same 1.6L THP gasoline mill indicates a high probability that a production model is in the works.

Collin also says he expects Peugeot sales this year to jump as much as 8%.