The concept vehicles being unveiled at the Paris show include Citroen's C4 Cactus Airflow 2L, Peugeot's 208 HYbrid Air 2L Demonstrator and Renault's Eolab. Both the Cactus and 208 concepts are 100kg lighter than existing production counterparts due to the use of lightweight materials such as carbon fiber, aluminum, high-yield steels and composite materials. They are also more aerodynamic.
The PSA's hybrid air system has been developed with supplier Robert Bosch to be lighter than a hybrid running on gasoline and battery power and to reduce the cost of cutting emissions compared with existing hybrids.
The technology uses the vehicle's engine and brakes to compress air, which is stored in pressure accumulators. The system allows the vehicle to be driven conventionally, hydraulically or by a combination of the two.
According to IHS, the next-generation Citroen C3 will likely share some of the C4 Cactus concept's lightweight materials, aerodynamics and powertrain when it launches in 2016, followed by a similarly fuel efficient Peugeot 208 in 2019.
Renault says its Eolab concept previews fuel-saving technologies that will appear gradually on its production cars before 2020. The Eolab has a 75hp 1.0-liter three-cylinder gasoline engine, a 6.7 kWh battery and a clutchless three-speed transmission with an integrated electric motor. The powertrain has a range of 60km under electric power only.
The Eolab represents a departure for Renault, which has found uptake of its electric-only vehicles has been slower than anticipated. “By moving forward with plug-in hybrids they will be providing customers with a stepping stone between conventional powertrains and EVs,” IHS' Fletcher said. “This gives those customers the opportunity to experience the benefits of electric-only driving without concerns over range.”
PSA and Renault’s German rival Volkswagen introduced its version of an ultra fuel-efficient car last year. VW claimed its two-seat XL1 plug-in hybrid was the most fuel-efficient production car in the world, consuming 0.9 liter of diesel per 100km (U.K. 313mpg; U.S. 270 mpg).