psa hybrid.automotiveIT

PSA is working to improve its hybrid technology (Photo: PSA)

PARIS - PSA-Peugeot/Citroen is betting on hybrids rather than full electric vehicles, a senior company executive told automotiveIT at the auto show here.

"AT PSA we believe hybrids have more future than pure electric vehicles," said Christian Chapelle, head of powertrain & chassis engineering at the French car group.

PSA was one of the first carmakers to start marketing full electric vehicles. After the launch of a shortlived EV in 1995, PSA in 2010 launched the Peugeot iOn and Citroen C-Zero, both models built on the same platform as the Mitsubishi MiEV.

PSA's Citroen brand also offers an electric version of its Berlingo minivan, which is roughly similar to sister brand Peugeot's Partner. And the company will build a next generation electric version of the minivan together with Japan's Mitsubishi.

But, despite strong growth in its EV sales so far this year, the group won't sell more than a few thousand iOns and C-Zeros in 2012.

"The market isn't ready for full electric vehicles, so we do mainly B-to-B sales and sell no cars to private buyers," Chapelle said.

The PSA executive cited EVs' relatively low range and high costs as major obstacles to their market growth. He said the weight of batteries and higher-powered electric motors is the major impediment in building longer-range EVs. "If you increase the rage, you need more energy ad more electric power," Chapelle said.

PSA is offering four hybridized models: the Peugeot  3008 HYbrid4, the 508 RXH, and the 508 HYbrid4 as well as the Citroen DS5 HYbrid4.

Chapelle said PSA's hybrid development focuses on reducing the size of the engine combination so it can fit in smaller cars and making hybrids even more fuel efficient. "We are trying to go down in the C segment and preparing the platform to fit hybrids," Chapelle said.

The European Union plans to further limit CO2 emissions by 2020 and 2025 and to meet those targets, "we need some hybridization," Chapelle said.

PSA projects that, by 2020, 15 pc of the new-car market will consist of electrified vehicles, which could be plugin or traditional hybrids or full EVs. But Chapelle predicted that "out of this only 3 pc-to-5 pc will be full electric vehicles."