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Peugeot Unveils Hybrid Le Mans Racer

Published: 07 October 2008

Peugeot used the final round of this season’s Le Mans Series at Silverstone this weekend to show off its new hybrid-powered 908 HDi FAP racer, which features a similar kinetic energy recovery setup to next year’s Formula 1 system.

The 908’s ‘HY’ undertook a number of demonstration laps in front of the packed grandstands and showed how Peugeot’s passenger car technology is filtering through to its motorsport activities.

Over the weekend, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest – the company that runs the Le Mans series – announced a raft of aerodynamic and air-intake changes to next year’s regulations to even out the advantages of diesel over petrol. But rather frustratingly for Peugeot, there were no moves to incorporate hybrid powertrains in the 2009 season.

But Peugeot claims that it will enter the 908 HY into next year’s Le Mans Series as a ‘Double Oh’ non-competitor to further evaluate the car’s hybrid technology.

The HY’s layout comprises three key components - an 80bhp gear-driven electric motor-generator which replaces the conventional starter motor, 10 lithium-ion battery stacks to store the recovered power (six in the cockpit instead of the conventional battery and four on the left-hand side of the floor pan) and an electronic power converter, located in the rear part of the front left wing, which controls the flow of energy between batteries and motor.

The result is a 3-5% mechanical energy recovery – and the associated economy and performance benefits. Over a single lap of Le Mans, for example, the system will recoup lost energy for up to 30seconds.

This is then converted into a 20second 80bhp kick can either be meted out automatically by the car’s electronics to bolster acceleration throughout the lap or be selectively used by the driver using a ‘push to pass’ boost button.
The additional and modified components add a further 65kg to the car’s weight, but Peugeot’s engineers claim the racecar will still easily meet the minimum regulated weight.

 “As a car manufacturer we can use motor sport as a research and development tool for the Peugeot brand as a whole,” said Michel Barge, Peugeot Sport’s director.

“Running a hybrid car in endurance racing would give Peugeot a chance to gain extremely valuable experience that would benefit the development of production cars.”

By Ben Whitworth

Contributing editor, sartorial over-achiever, HANS device shirt collars

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