Coming soon, the car that runs on air: Peugeot Citroen unveil new 117mpg hybrid (and it's £1,000 cheaper than a Prius)
If you have ever grimaced at your petrol bill and dreamed of a car that runs on fresh air, your prayers are about to be answered.
French car giant PSA Peugeot Citroen believes it can put an air-powered vehicle on the road by 2016.
Its scientists say it will knock 45 per cent off fuel bills for an average motorist. And when driving in towns and cities costs could be slashed by as much as 80 per cent because the car will be running on air for four-fifths of the time.
The system works by using a normal internal combustion engine, special hydraulics and an adapted gearbox along with compressed air cylinders that store and release energy. This enables it to run on petrol or air, or a combination of the two.
Air power would be used solely for city use, automatically activated below 43mph and available for ‘60 to 80 per cent of the time in city driving’. By 2020, the cars could be achieving an average of 117 miles a gallon, the company predicts.
The air compression system can re-use all the energy normally lost when slowing down and braking. The motor and a pump are in the engine bay, fed by a compressed air tank underneath the car, running parallel to the exhaust.
The revolutionary new ‘Hybrid Air’ engine system – the first to combine petrol with compressed air – is a breakthrough for hybrid cars because expensive batteries will no longer be needed.
Cars fitted with Hybrid Air will be about £1,000 cheaper to buy than current hybrid models.
For more than two years, 100 elite scientists and engineers have been working on the air-powered car in top-secret conditions at Peugeot’s research and development centre at Velizy, just south of Paris.
Hybrid Air is the centrepiece of Peugeot chief executive Philippe Varin’s efforts to restore the fortunes of the historic car maker.
The revolutionary system will be able to be installed on any normal family car without altering its external shape or size or reducing the boot size, provided the spare wheel is not stored there. From the outside, an air-powered car will look identical to a conventional vehicle.
A spokesman said: ‘We are not talking about weird and wacky machines. These are going to be in everyday cars.’
Peugeot, which unveiled its prototype yesterday, envisages introducing it in smaller models such as the 208 at first.
The company said that as well as being greener and cheaper to run, the air system created no extra dangers in a collision.
Motorists never run the risk of running out of compressed air late at night on a deserted country road because the car will be fitted with a sophisticated artificial brain that ensures it replenishes itself automatically.
The air compresses and decompresses of its own accord as the car speeds up and slows down.
As well as the revolutionary air car, Peugeot also unveiled plans for new larger cars such as the Peugeot 508 and the Citroen C5 that will save 20per cent on fuel bill through the use of new materials such as lightweight steel and aluminuim composites.
They will also deploy other innovations such as electric power steering instead of hydraulic and new tyres with reduced drag.
These will be introduced from this year. The first cars to feature them will be the replacement for the Citroen C4 Picasso produced at the company’s plant in Vigo Spain and the replacement for the 308 built at Sochaux in France.
The audience gasped as the covers were removed from the prototypes at a packed ceremony attended by French politicians and business leaders.
The innovations are crucial to chairman Philippe Varin’s efforts to revamp the ailing automaker that has suffered badly due to the crisis in southern european markets including Italy, Portugal and Spain that account for a large chunk of its sales.
The economy in its home market of France has also been hard hit in the single currency crisis. It has lost its triple-A credit rating and socialist President Francois Hollande has earned international ridicule through his plans for a supertax on the wealthy.
The Peugeot company was founded in 1810 and the family still has a controlling stake. Thierry Peugeot drafted in Varin - widely hailed in the UK for rescuing Corus, the former British Steel, from the brink of ruin - in 2009.
Varin’s attempts to revive the marque have been hit by the euro meltdown and militant French unions.
Worldwide sales for 2012 were down 8.8per cent to 2.82m.
The company has been hindered in efforts to improve its performance by France’s rigid labour laws. It has also been plagued by violent industrial action at its Aulnay plant near Paris which is due to close next year with the loss of thousands of jobs.
It is embroiled in controversy with rival European car makers over a French state guarantee given to its financing arm last year.
It runs on AIR? Where's the science backing this up? How can anyone use air as a fuel?
So what? We've had a Congress that runs on hot air for decades.
r3 will be here all week, folks!
Try the veal; it's delicious.
Where can I get one?
R2 -- in a standard car engine, fuel vapor is injected into the cylinders and then ignited with a spark that then pushes the piston against the drive shaft, turning it so it will turn the wheels.
In a car that runs on compressed air, highly pressurized air is shot into the cylinder which pushed the piston and makes the wheel turn.
To pressurize the air some of the power made by pushing the pistons (whether by the compressed air or by gasoline or diesel) is used not only to turn the cars' wheels but to power a compressor that will produce more air to use in the piston.
So not only would you have a gas tank, but a tank holding the compressed air.
[quote]So not only would you have a gas tank, but a tank holding the compressed air.
Or you could hire Charlie to be your driver.
Kill it. Do you hear me?
President Dick Cheney
Do these little cars make fart-fart noises as they tool down the road?
Even if the principle works, you do not, under any circumstances, want to buy a Peugeot (my family had one of those pieces of shit as a kid); French engineering (an oxymoron is ever there was one)is the bottom-of-the-barrel worst on this planet and French cars are such outlandish mechanical nightmares, that owning one automatically clears the universe of any bad karma one has ever had. It's the law of displaced suffering. French engineering also why the Statue of Liberty started disintegrating in the '80s and needed years of massive, retrofitting repair work.
Nope, I'll never buy a French car or fly on an Airbus. Frenchies simply cannot build anything that doesn't have whacky, cartoonish problems.
"French engineering is also why the Statue of Liberty started disintegrating in the '80s"
And maybe because of the pollution, acid rain and bird poop? Hm?
Naming it the Peugeot Flatulence is going to hurt sales.
Some models come with a methane harnessing butt plug installed in the driver's seat to provide your own fuel.
#14, stop the man-hate.
Your hatred of gay males is killing us.
I have stated my boundaries.
Whoever invents a viable car that doesn't need gas wins big.
And you thought the NRA lobbied against anything that could negatively impact the gun manufacturing industry...
This will be AMAZING if they succeed.
Wow. No way would the US allow this anywhere near its borders.
I'd buy one if available in the US.
Peugeot might not be the greatest company and often mistreats its designers, but the French are great engineers, and have been for centuries.
yea those Airbus plans suck!
There's nothing so amazing about this. It's merely carrying a gas-powered on board generator to compress air into on board tanks.
It's a rip-off of Chevy's Volt idea but compressing air instead of charging a battery like the Volt does.
It's not a rip off -- it's a whole different design.
It's like saying petrol combustion is a ripoff of dissolving baking soda in vinegar.
R11.... would you please tell us what year was your family's Peugeot?
If you think Peugeot cars were bad 25 or so years ago... and no one will argue with you there... what would you say about Pintos, Vegas, Chevettes, Gremlins etc?
Today Peugeot makes great cars...Peugeot is the second largest car maker in Europe.
And gee.... look at little old Fiat ("Fix It Again Tony") saving Chrysler with it's injection of engineering and quality.
The only reason Chrysler needed saving is because Daimler Benz beat and raped them, stole their money, then kicked them to the curb.