Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4
A couple of years ago this was the car that couldn’t be made, but here it is, defying conventional wisdom and on sale next year at a price of £26,995.
Peugeot’s 3008 Hybrid4 is the world’s first diesel hybrid passenger car, which short of running an engine on the principle of cold fusion is about as rare and exotic as it gets in the motor industry. Hybrid vehicles have effectively two engines and an expensive battery, which pushes up costs so that most examples use a small, cheap four-cylinder petrol engine to drive the car and charge the battery.
A modern turbodiesel engine is an expensive and economical unit (a diesel’s fuel injection and emissions equipment alone cost the same as an entire four-cylinder petrol engine) and, up to now, the small additional fuel savings and high costs of hybridising a diesel have not been deemed worth the effort. What also hasn’t helped the diesel hybrid cause is that hybrids have mainly been aimed at countries such as the USA and Japan where diesel is unpopular.
Things are changing, however. High fuel costs, plus stringent European fuel economy standards mean that hybrids are starting to be taken seriously and, as diesel occupies almost half of all European sales, diesel hybrids are now on the agenda. Volvo is planning to launch the world’s first plug-in diesel hybrid next year and the Peugeot/Citroën PSA group has invested heavily in this diesel/electric hybrid, with the 3008 the first example. This powertrain will also be launched in Peugeot’s 508 range next year, in the RXH, a boutique SUV arriving next spring, as well as equivalent Citroën models, which all helps make the considerable investment look more sensible to the company accountants.
Peugeot claims using diesel instead of petrol in a hybrid saves an additional 30 per cent in fuel economy and there are other benefits. The engine is a conventional 161bhp, two-litre, turbodiesel four cylinder, driving the front wheels through a robotised six-speed manual gearbox. A belt-driven 8kW generator charges the rear-mounted nickel-metal hydride battery, which supplies current to a 36bhp AC electric motor driving the rear wheels. So the 3008 Hybrid4 also gets four wheel drive for free, without the weight and expense of transfer boxes, propeller shafts and differentials.