Concept car built with Le Mans knowledge emits just 49g/km CO2, is displayed at Frankfurt motor show
Jim Holder
10 September 2013

The Peugeot 208 Hybrid FE, a working concept car built by the manufacturer’s former Le Mans prototype race team and which can manage a fully verified 0-62mph in 8.0sec, has been revealed at the Frankfurt motor show.

The car can also put out 141.2mpg while emitting just 49g/km of CO2. All this is achieved  without the aid of plug-in technology, which typically distorts efficiency tests.

The idea for the concept, which showcases numerous fuel-saving technologies, was born when the race team was disbanded at the start of last year. With a sponsorship deal with oil giant Total still in place, the partners looked for new ways to publicise their technical know-how.

“The key to any project had to be that it was relevant and realistic in terms of targets and developments,” said project leader Christophe Mary. “We are working on so many areas to save fuel but this car had to bring them together, to show what was possible with some synergies.”

Starting just over a year ago with a base Peugeot 208 Access powered by the firm’s 68bhp 1.0-litre VTi petrol engine, the team set the target of halving the current best fuel consumption for a 208 without compromising in-car space or driving pleasure. The standard 208 in this form achieves 65.6mpg and emits 99g/km of CO2, and hits 62mph in 14.0sec.

Peugeot estimates that the weight saving, aerodynamic modifications and low-resistance tyres saved around 20g/km of CO2, the hybrid system a further 20g/km and the engine and gearbox changes 10g/km. Similarly, the weight saving, aerodynamics and tyres cut an estimated 4.0sec from the 0-62mph time, and the hybrid system a further 2.0sec.

“The car is a concept, but it has been built not only to show what’s possible, but also to explore what technologies are ready for production,” said Mary. “We are showing the car to create discussions, gauge attitudes and to push partners to contribute new ideas.”

Initially, two 208 Hybrid FEs will be built for evaluation, with one on display at next month’s Frankfurt motor show. All performance claims have already been verified by the official test body in France.

The ten key Peugeot 208 FE concept modifications

1. The FE is 25 per cent more aerodynamic than the standard production 208, without the passenger or boot space being compromised. Any body parts that disrupted airflow have been modified. The front grille allows more air in, meaning it can be smaller. The bespoke, low-resistance Michelin tyres are tall and thin to aid aero, the 19-inch wheels’ spokes are filled in by aerodynamic flaps, and the door mirrors are replaced by rear-facing cameras. 

2. The 208’s rear track has been pinched in by 20mm each side, 40mm in total, offering significant aerodynamic gains both around and under the car. The roof extends rearwards, so it leads into the spoiler, while the rear end has chamfered edges and an air deflector in its lower section to draw air out from the modified, totally flat floor.

3. The FE retains a metal structure, but is 20 per cent lighter overall than a base 208’s 975kg. Bodywork and floor panels are replaced with composite items, dropping the bodyshell’s weight from 295kg to 227kg. The outer skin’s flat base and door panels are made from carbonfibre and the bonnet and wings are a carbon-composite mix. The windows are made from polycarbonate, which is half the weight of glass

4. The FE has a pseudo-MacPherson strut suspension with a glassfibre resin rear blade, which is mounted transversely. This replaces the standard car’s suspension, springs, lower wishbones and anti-roll bar. Each blade saves 10kg.

5. Only the air-con is sacrificed in the pursuit of efficiency and weight saving. No interior pictures have been revealed, but Peugeot says the door trim pads are made using a polypropylene polymer mixed with natural fibres and are 15 per cent lighter than standard panels. The centre console and vent trims are made from a lightweight resin. 

6. The base 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine has been increased to 1233cc and adopts direct injection. Power stays at 68bhp, but torque increases by 25 per cent to 88lb/ft. All moving parts are modified: the crankshaft is nitrated steel, the conrods titanium and the pistons aluminium-copper alloy, all saving weight, while the compression ratio has been raised from 11:1 to 16: 1. To avoid the engine knocking, the valve diameter has been increased, the exhaust and manifold redesigned and the valve lift pattern adapted. Coolant passages have also been placed between the cylinders, to reduce heat exchange. 

7. The battery and electric motor are taken from Peugeot’s now defunct Le Mans racer. The 7kg electric motor develops 30kW as a motor and 100kW as a brake generator. In both modes it produces 22lb ft of torque. The electric motor also handles reversing, which allows the mechanical gear ratio to be dropped.

8. The 0.56kWh lithium ion battery weighs 25kg and sits on a subframe with the 20-litre fuel tank underneath the rear seat. The inverter and ECU live under the bonnet. 

9. Friction losses typically account for 20 per cent of an engine’s power. That figure is reduced by 40 per cent, chiefly by coating the crankshaft, piston, piston rings and camshaft followers in a diamond-like carbon material. The cylinder head’s weight has been halved by using a stronger aluminium. The coolant circuit and inlet lines are made using the laser beam from a 3D printer, which fuses successive layers of aluminium powder.

10. The gearbox base is standard, but the casing is cut from a solid block, with gears connecting the electric motor to the differential crown wheel. To reduce friction losses, the teeth of the gears are coated in tungsten carbide chrome. Less grease is used, to keep it off the gears, where it typically saps energy.

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Comments
3

26 August 2013

There are some great ideas in that list, like the electric reverse, but also many things that just seem like good sense, and i assume are generally not done because of cost. It would be interesting to know how much the different savings they made would add to the cost of a car. 

I also worry that making the rear axle so much narrower will have a very bad effect on handling

26 August 2013

This is how manufacturers get my attention - interesting engineering solutions. Peugeot have begun to turn out some respectable cars in the last couple of years, if they build on that with clever engineering it will do no end of good to their brand reputation.

Altogether these ideas would be prohibitively expensive, but if they tweaked a standard 208 to include the some of the aerodynamic , weight and frictional improvements, they could have a very impressive little car on their hands

26 August 2013

There is merit in a supermini that emits only 49g/km no matter what methods are applied - weight saving or electric motors.

Peugeot gave us the world's first diesel hybrid. Then there was talk of air-hybrid tech. I'm interested to find out about that.

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