The Air-Fueled Hybrid courtesy of Peugeot-Citroen

air-fueled hybrid

In the ever increasing intensity to produce the most fuel efficient car on the planet, it is energetically inspiring to learn that a French (excuse me while I clear my throat) carmaker, Peugeot-Citroen, is planning on producing an Air-Fueled Hybrid which runs on compressed air by the year 2016. Talk about fuel efficient, this is where capital investment dollars need to go.

Personally, I continue to be frustrated by the automotive industry’s efforts to take us away from reliance on carbon fuels. In cahoots with the oil giants, I’m of the opinion that they are dragging their feet in the race for fuel efficiency. The continuous blame that’s attached to battery innovation is frankly, childish, but it seems that someone in the business has other ambitions. Let me set the scene a touch. Peugeot-Citroen is a French-based automaker that was simply gutted by the recession in Europe. They had lost market share to their bigger competitor, Renault, and the single currency market had caused their sales to plummet. However, CEO Philippe Varin was determined to restore the fortunes of the still family owned company. His target was fuel efficiency.

The Air-Fueled Hybrid works off several energy sources and is used within three operating modes. The car has a compressed air motor and storage container which uses a system of hydraulics to provide kinetic energy to the vehicle. Using brake regeneration techniques, slowing down and speeding up are used as energy sources to drive the powertrain. The three operating modes are fully gasoline which is used for cruising and long distance driving, combined power for performance driving, and zero emission mode for maximum fuel savings. The end result is a car that runs at 117 mpg which really changes the dynamics of the industry. Engineers expect that a car could reduce fossil fuel consumption in cities by up to 80% in some instances, and an overall reduction of 45% for the average driver.

Now here is where it gets really cool. This system is completely transferable to currently constructed vehicles so we’re not going to have to choose to drive in a Jetsons-type matchbox to benefit from this awesome technology. In fact, this system can be developed to adapt current power trains running on the road today. Here’s another positive benefit. This design would reduce the cost of vehicles by up to $1500 per vehicle. Can you imagine the stirrings in Detroit and Tokyo right now as a result of Mr Varin and his company? I’ll guarantee the head scratching is intense.

Apparently, Peugeot-Citroen claims that a high percentage of their engineering departments have been working on this concept for over two years and forms part of the auto maker’s innovations such as electric-powered steering systems and reduced drag tires. We’ll see if this technology ever sees the light of day in the US but my feeling is that an Air-Fueled Hybrid car isn’t far away from making its debut Stateside.

Not a moment before time.

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