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.

Peugeot Hybrid Air concept car
Peugeot Hybrid Air concept car