PEUGEOT Tests Israeli Range-Extender Technology

PSA Group is preparing to test battery-powered cars that recharge with an on-board generator, industry sources said, as the French carmaker hunts for a breakthrough in mass-market electric vehicles.

PSA, which declined further comment, is pursuing an ambitious turnaround following a 2012-14 crisis that saw it fall behind competitors on research and development until it secured a cash bailout from the French state and China’s Dongfeng. Chief Executive Carlos Tavares has pledged to introduce 11 new electric and hybrid models by 2021.

In a rethink of engine fundamentals, Aquarius (Israeli Start-up) has pared the range extender down to a single piston that blasts to and fro inside a valveless 600cc cylinder, generating power from electromagnetic coils with each stroke. It delivers more than twice the overall energy efficiency of a typical combustion engine, according to simulations by German engineering firm FEV.

PSA has some risk-taking form. In 2013 it developed a fuel-efficient “Hybrid Air” system with Bosch and was ready to take the pneumatic-hydraulic drivetrain into production, but failed to find another manufacturer willing to split the investment.

According to Aquarius, several prototype vehicles using its free-piston generator will be road-tested by the carmaker client early in 2017.

At an estimated $17,000 per vehicle, costs should undercut both conventional hybrids that come in closer to $25,000 and pure-electrics at around $40,000, the private company projects.

Renault,  had also reviewed the Aquarius kit and decided to pass.

Instead, Renault-Nissan is pinning its hopes for electric cars on future improvements in battery performance and cost.

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