After teasing various diesel-electric hybrid show cars (and one racer) over the past several years, Peugeot has finally made good on its threat to build such a vehicle for mass consumption. Welcome to the new 3008 HYbrid4, which Peugeot claims as the world's first production diesel hybrid.
As was the case with many of Peugeot's recent concepts, the hybrid all-wheel-drive system assigns each power source to a specific pair of wheels. The 163-horsepower, 2.0-liter I-4 turbodiesel drives the front wheels through a six-speed sequential gearbox, while a 37-horsepower electric motor is connected to the rear wheels. Peugeot's engineers also managed to squeeze a large nickel-metal-hydride battery pack underneath the rear load floor.
In normal operation, the 3008 HYbrid4 runs off the electric motor at low speeds, gradually switching to the diesel four-cylinder as velocity increases. For repeated stretches of low-speed driving, a selectable ZEV mode shuts off the diesel engine and switches to the electric motor -- perfect, Peugeot says, for using the 3008 as a city runabout.
Should drivers encounter slick or challenging road conditions, a 4WD setting mode forces the diesel engine and the EV motor to be operate simultaneously, rendering the 3008 an all-wheel-drive vehicle. A sport setting operates in a similar fashion, but is primarily designed to improve off-the-line acceleration, and ultimately reduces the electric motor's assist as speeds increase.
Although diesel hybrid vehicles are expensive to manufacture, we think Peugeot is on to something -- at least for the CO2-conscious, diesel-loving European market. The automaker claims the 3008 HYbrid4 returns 74.4 mpg on the European combined test cycle, while carbon dioxide emissions are cut 30 percent to 99 grams per kilometer.
Could a clean diesel hybrid -- or, potentially, the 3008 HYbrid4 itself -- succeed here in America, or should automakers playing in our market stick to traditional gasoline hybrid engines?