GENEVA – Peugeot offers something for everyone in the B-segment at Geneva.
The French auto maker’s auto show offerings here include the 2008 urban cross/utility vehicle aimed at the youth crowd looking to get out of town, a 208 GT targeting pocket-rocket fans and the 208 XY for chic, young urban dwellers who want to stay in town.
There is more. The 2008 Hybrid Air uses compressed air, hydraulics and onboard computers to provide an invisible boost from energy recovered during deceleration, while the 208 Hybrid FE clay model represents a project to develop a 208 that accelerates 0-62 mpg (100 km/h) in 8 seconds, yet only emits just 49 g/km of carbon-dioxide.
The B-segment is Europe’s largest, but it has not been profitable as auto makers cut prices on cars such as theClio, Peugeot 208 and Polo in order to boost sales and keep factories going.
Peugeot aims at regaining profitability with narrowly focused vehicles that place it in a more expensive realm.
Technology is the key to this strategy, and the 2008 Air Hybrid approach is unique in the industry. The cars have fast-acting electronics that allow braking and deceleration energy to load quickly into a compressed-air tank, where it boosts the gasoline engine as needed. In practice, the changes are rapid, many times a minute in city driving and invisible to the driver.
The Hybrid FE goes further in fuel saving. The future vehicle is a joint project with the Total petroleum company. The idea is to do everything possible to cut by half the 208’s fuel consumption from the best gasoline engine. “We have worked together for 18 years,” Peugeot General Manager Maxime Picat says.
Bruno Famin, of the Peugeot Sport division, says the 208 FE uses hybrid technology developed on the race track, aerodynamic improvements to a 0.27 drag coefficient and new Total oils in the transmission. It also sees a 441-lb. (200-kg) weight savings using new materials from Total.
Total’s Philippe Monanteme says the materials mostly are polymers and composites, including some that are bio-sourced. The experimental oils are being developed with powertrain engineers, because there’s always a compromise between viscosity and engine protection.
The companies intend to make two prototypes before the Frankfurt auto show in September to prove what now is only calculated fuel efficiency.