On display at this year's International Motor Show in Paris will be a car that embodies one of our favorite propulsion combinations. Yes, the CitroÃ«n C-MÃ©tisse is an over-the-top concept car, but it's also a diesel/electric hybrid, a powertrain we need to see more of. Ford has also whetted appetites with its Reflex diesel hybrid concept car, which debuted at the International Auto Show in Detroit this year. While no shortage of "eco" concept cars boast fuel cell innards with little articulation of what that might actually entail, diesel hybrids are a realistic and attainable prospect, and if it takes quadruple gull-wing doors to get people amped up on them, then so be it. The C-MÃ©tisse is a four-door sports car whose front wheels are powered by a 205 hp diesel V6, and the rear by two electric motors (essentially the same as how the Reflex manages things). When the electric kicks in, the car effectively becomes four-wheel drive. Even though the car can do 0-62 mph in 6.2 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph, its makers claim it will average 42 mpg, and its particulate trap reduces pollutant emissions. The diesel is a 3.0 liter HDi, or high pressure direct injection, a motor jointly developed by PSA (mother company of Peugeot and CitroÃ«n) and Ford. The HDi claims a 20% carbon reduction over non-injection diesels, and a 30% reduction over comparable gasoline engines. The two electric motors run on centrally positioned battery packs charged by the car's regenerative breaking. During city or low speed driving, the C-MÃ©tisse can operate in electric-only ZEV mode, while at high speeds, the electric motors kick in to provide a boost function.
Of course there is no word on bringing the C-MÃ©tisse into production, but PSA has developed two other much more realistic concept diesel hybrids, the Peugeot 307 and the CitroÃ«n C4, though these too appear to be a number of years off. The CitroÃ«n C2, which is currently on the road, is equipped with start/stop technology which claims a modest 15% consumption reduction.
While American and Japanese automakers have tended to lean towards gas/electric hybrids, the Europeans have emphasized cleaner diesels. Seeing the two come together is a happy sight. It isn't clear how the diesel paradigm translates into American standards, however. For all the hype that Mercedes-Benz has drummed up around its Bluetec clean diesel line, five U.S. states recently deemed them still too dirty to pass muster. But as well all know, gull-wing doors have been a key that opens Americans' hearts. Let's just hope diesel hybrids don't go the way of the De Lorean.