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Hybrids no, EVs maybe: Peugeot Australia

On/off: The Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4 has been officially shelved for hot climates such as Australia.

Heat and cost give Peugeot diesel hybrids the chop for Oz, but EV van on agenda

20 Sep 2012

PEUGEOT has officially shelved plans to develop its ground-breaking Hybrid4 diesel-electric 3008 and 508 crossover wagon models for hot climates such as Australia.

It emerged in June that the project had been placed on the Peugeot backburner as various heat issues were being sorted, but the company has now informed the Australian division that it has halted development.

At the same time, the company is in the middle of deciding whether to release the pure electric Partner van revealed globally last week on to the Australian market as a rival for the Renault Kangoo ZE and Nissan e-NV200 – both of which are under consideration for the local market.

With regard to diesel hybrids, Peugeot Australia director Bill Gillespie told journalists at this week's 208 launch that the car-maker had opted to focus its development budget on a raft of more mainstream models due to appear globally by the end of 2013.

“It's a decision coming out of Europe,” he said. “They have got to invest research and development money and there are a whole lot of models coming between now and the end of next year, and there is only so much engineering investment you can make.”

These new global models include the 208 GTI hot hatch, 2008 compact crossover and the crucial all-new 308 small car, with the latter emerging at next year's Geneva show in March.

23 center imageLeft: Bill Gillespie and Peugeot Partner EV.

The decision comes against the background of a sales dip in the stagnant European market of 15 per cent for the first half of 2012, causing a half-year loss of €819 million.

And while Peugeot Australia remained keen on both Hybrid4 variants as recently as last month (see separate story), its parent company's continued issues surrounding the heat appear to have prompted a cooling in its position on the pair.

Mr Gillespie said low-volume hybrid models were not sufficient to simply turn a company 'green', and that Peugeot Australia's petrol and diesel range was already more efficient than most.

“Our overall model range, we run an average of around 160 grams (of CO2 per kilometre) versus everyone else, so we as a range are a lot better (than many),” he said.

“If you want to be brutally honest, there are many car companies that bring hybrids in but they still bring a lot of V8s and all sorts of other cars.

“I'm not going to mention names but when you look at our range they're all pretty green, on global standards they're second or third best in Europe.

“Bringing one hybrid to Australia – does that suddenly make you a green car company? Probably not.”

Both Hybrid4 models are powered by the same innovative diesel-electric powertrain – billed as a production world-first – which pairs a 120kW/300Nm 2.0-litre direct-injection common-rail four-cylinder driving the front wheels via a six-speed clutchless manual gearbox with a 27kW/200Nm electric motor mounted on the rear axle.

Claimed fuel consumption for the 3008 Hybrid4 version is just 3.8 litres per 100km, while the larger 508 RXH manages 4.2L/100km.

Meanwhile, the Partner Electrique van is set to go on sale in Europe in the second quarter of 2013, and is powered by a 49kW/200Nm electric motor hooked up to a 22.5kWh lithium-ion battery.

It is said to have a range of 170km and can be charged in six to nine hours from a household socket or as little as 30 minutes for an 80 per cent “fill” on a 125-amp fast charger.

Mr Gillespie said he will be attending several meeting in Paris next week to discuss future product including the EV van, and that if it was available the company would be a strong chance to bring it here.

However, he said a broad range of considerations needed to be sorted before that happened, including its feasibility in hot weather, the adequacy of its battery range and the present state of EV charging infrastructure in Australia.

“It's got to form part of a strategy,” he said. “You can't just have a whole range of cars and say 'let's just bring an electric van'. With Renault or Nissan, they've got a (wider) electric strategy that they're going with,” he said.

“You need infrastructure to support it and I don't whether we are ready to go on that, so we just need to look at it.”

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