Peugeot-Citroën: Micro-Hybrids Standard by 2010

PSA/Peugeot-Citroën will make so-called “micro-hybrids” standard equipment in its small and medium cars in Europe. This March 5 news item in Automotive News Europe was overshadowed by other sexier green car stories from the Geneva Motor Show. But the French company’s move toward applying a basic form of hybrid technology to the majority of its vehicles could be a much bigger deal than more dramatic but less feasible eco-friendly concept cars on display in Geneva.

Micro-hybrids—also known as “stop-start” for the ability to stop engine idle when a vehicle slows down and comes to a stop—can reduce fuel consumption by 5 percent to 15 percent depending on the driving conditions.

“We are investing extremely massively in micro-hybridization,” said PSA CEO Christian Streiff in Geneva. Pascal Henault, the automaker’s head of research and innovation, added, “By 2011, we want to produce and sell 1 million Peugeots and Citroëns in the EU with that system, and 1.6 million in 2012. That includes both diesel as well as gasoline models.”

PSA Peugeot Citroën introduced its stop-start system in 2004. The Citroën C3 was the first mass-produced car equipped with this system.

At last year’s Geneva Motor Show, BMW said that it will introduce start-stop systems in a broad model range, including four- and six-cylinder 1-, 3- and 5-Series models—and in the Mini Cooper. Klaus Borgmann, senior vice president of powertrain development for BMW, said start-stop is being evaluated for use in North America.

It’s unlikely that PSA/Peugeot-Citroën or BMW will emphasize, or even mention, the word “hybrid” in the marketing of vehicles with stop-start systems, which produce relatively minor improvements in fuel economy compared to bigger and more complex hybrids—but at a much lower cost. Those more robust hybrids from Toyota, Ford, General Motors and others have stop-start features, and also allow the vehicle to launch forward without using gasoline to produce fuel economy gains as high as 40 percent. Regardless of terminology, stop-start systems utilize the fundamental hybrid strategy of using stored energy to reduce unnecessary fuel consumption, and thereby reduce carbon emissions.

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  • uktiger

    Come on GM and Ford, this is proven technology. Every single car, just like an air bag.

  • mdensch

    With the new CAFE mandates going into effect, I would think this fairly simple step would help meet some of the interim standards. And I would think that simply incorporating the stop-idle feature would save millions of gallons of gas each day in dense urban traffic.

    The point was driven home (no pun intended) for me when I was sitting in a traffic jam on a Chicago expressway with my Escape Hybrid. An accident in a tunnel near downtown had traffic backed up nearly 20 miles out and I was in stop-and-go-slow traffic for over an hour and a half. As cars around me continued to burn fuel and spew emissions I was watching my trip computer actually show mpg increasing as the gasoline engine was off most of the time.

  • Skeptic

    Great idea and easy to do … just please stop calling it a hybrid!

  • jack r

    If they put stop-start in all their new cars they would be close to CAFE standards in most cars.

  • Boom Boom

    I second Skeptic’s Complaint. Hybrid means there is a combination of two drive types (typically electric and gas). Just making a car start and stop more often to save gas (which is great) is not a hybrid.

  • sean

    A simple and effective idea, but will it wear out the starter motor more quickly? Hybrids do not because they use electric motor at the start and are specifically designed for that. I’m sure that French engineers have thought of that but the article does not clarify. Or I missed something?

  • Zaphod

    I find the idea pretty good, but it’s not new at all.
    At the early nineteeen eighties, VW was already experimenting with this system.
    As far as I can remember, the largest problem was wear.
    The largerst wear in an combustion engine, is when it starts up, and oil films on bearing systems are being build up. During that time there is metal – metal contact rather than metail to oil.
    So, how about the lifetime of these “micro hybrid” engines ?

    Or DO we have a similarity to true Hybrids here – true hybrids tend to loose battery capacity ater a mileage of approx. 60~80 000.
    Basically reducing the lifespan of the vehicle to half.
    How about these environmental aspects : trashing your valueable car too early ?

  • Euan Taylor

    I agrree its a great idea and it would save shed loads of fuel if it was put in every car, however it doesnt work in every car, in the citroens you need to have the automatic sensodrive gearbox. I’m sure with some thought they could make it work with a manual gearbox, but to my knowledge it isnt being done yet. We should all be running second generation biofuels. CHIP OIL all the way!