Peugeot's Latest Idea is a Lot of Hot Air

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The race to find feasible solutions to the environmental consequences of motoring is still on-going between car companies, who have invested a lot of time and money over the last few decades into researching alternative fuels, electric power, carbon emission reduction, engine efficiency and more.

The latest offering, from French manufacturers Peugeot, is a slight break from the current trend of petrol-electric models, although it is a hybrid of sorts. Officially launched at the Geneva Motor Show this month, the Hybrid Air as it is named, runs precisely on that: air.

The air in question is nitrogen, 20 litres of which is stored in a blue, four-foot, pressurised tank beneath the two front seats. The nitrogen, together with some hydraulic fluid, helps the motor recover energy when the driver slows down or stops – much like certain hybrid electric cars do.

However, where it differs is how it converts that stored energy: where hybrid electric cars like the Toyota Prius use kinetic energy to charge a battery, the Hybrid Air uses a pump to compress the hydrogen in the tank and then converts it to power the next time the car sets off. The petrol engine is still essential in every sense – the motor wouldn’t get far at all on compressed air alone – but it is claimed that in the typical stop-start pattern of driving common in cities, the Hybrid Air will offer noticeable fuel savings.

Another way in which it’s claimed that the Hybrid Air will differ from electric offerings is that, because the model doesn't require expensive electric motors or lithium-ion batteries, it will be considerably cheaper, starting at around £17,000 shortly after its planned production in 2016.

Although the Hybrid Air won’t roll out of production lines for at least another three years, drivers can view car insurance quotes online here at Swiftcover for numerous electric hybrids already in showrooms, as well as regular petrol and diesel models - don’t wait for the latest innovation to make sure you’re getting the best insurance deal on your motor.

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