Peugeot debuts first-ever hybrid gasoline-air vehicle

At the 2013 Geneva auto show, Peugeot unveiled the first-of-its-kind HybridAir system in its 2008 model, with a drive system that combines compressed air and gasoline power.

Peugeot 2008 HybridAir
Peugeot's HybridAir system uses compressed air tanks in the car to power a hydraulic motor under the hood. Peugeot

GENEVA--We've seen air-powered prototype cars on a small scale before, but now Peugeot unveils the first-ever air-powered full-size production model at the 2013 Geneva auto show. The new 2008 HybridAir uses an innovative hybrid system storing kinetic energy as compressed air.

The Peugeot 2008 is a new compact crossover slated for sale in Europe, Asia, and Latin America, with a variety of diesel and gasoline engines. But Peugeot calls its most interesting drivetrain option the HybridAir.

This hybrid system uses a 1.2-liter three-cylinder gasoline engine and a hydraulic motor to drive the front wheels. Similar to gasoline-electric hybrids, braking energy is captured and, in this case, stored as compressed air in a tank. The 2008 HybridAir can be driven solely on compressed air power, gasoline, or both.

When the system has enough compressed air stored in its tank, it will automatically use it for acceleration or to drive the car, shutting down the gasoline engine in the latter case. The system uses the energy from the compressed air to power a hydraulic motor in the engine compartment. A transmission, similar to that found in many gasoline-electric hybrids, combines the power of the hydraulic motor and the gasoline engine to drive the front wheels.

Peugeot says the compressed air can reach its maximum capacity in a mere 10 seconds from braking regeneration.

The air power only cuts in at speeds below 45 mph. Peugeot released no figures as to overall power or acceleration.

The company does say that the 2008 HybridAir will get 81 mpg, and that compressed air power can be used to drive the car during 80 percent of urban driving.

Peugeot 2008 HybridAir
The new Peugeot 2008 model will include the HybridAir system as an option. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

 

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