Peugeot is turning to hybrid compressed air technology to address the biggest barrier to customers buying electric cars and plug-in hybrids – the cost. The company believes that this simple but effective technology could be added to a wide variety of engines for a small price premium and boost economy significantly.
The Peugeot 2008 Hybrid Air prototype is the first fully-functioning compressed air hybrid vehicle. The company is aiming for the vehicle to achieve 50 kilometres per litre without the need for a heavy and expensive battery pack.
The hybrid air vehicle has a compressed air tank mounted below the boot. This can hold 20 litres of nitrogen and oil at a pressure of 220 bar. Energy “lost” when braking is used to compress the air in the tank. Discharging this tank forces the oil through a hydraulically actuated motor which turns the front wheels.
The hybrid air system can operate in zero emissions air-only mode, petrol-engine-only mode or petrol and air in combination.
Peugeot believes that it will be at least three years before its hybrid air vehicles are available to the public.