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PSA and Renault: two hybrids, two atmospheres

 High-end models on the one hand, more affordable on the other ... PSA and Renault are developing very different electrification strategies.

For French automakers, 2020 is the year of the hybrid.  This technology which combines a heat engine and one or more electric motors has become essential to pass under the caudine forks of European regulations which now require that CO2 emissions do not exceed, on average, 95 g per kilometer.  Faced with the same imperative, PSA and Renault did not, however, develop the same approach.

 After experiencing a resounding failure with its hybrid-diesel in the early 2010s, PSA bases its entire strategy on gasoline-powered hybrids which it intends for models at the top of its range.  After the DS7 Crossback E-Tense (from 54,550 euros), it's Peugeot's turn to convert.  A second electric motor installed on the rear axle transforms the 3008 into an all-wheel drive vehicle developing 300 hp, capable of traveling 59 km in "zero emission" mode.  The average consumption announced is 1.3 liters per 100 km (29 g of CO2) for a price of 48,800 euros.  A 225 hp model equipped with a single electric motor will lower the price by 5,000 euros.  For its part, the 508 follows the same path but only by two-wheel drive (45,850 euros).

 At the end of the year, the 508 PSE (Peugeot Sport Engineered) will appear, which will present itself as a deliberately sporty version.  It will deliver no less than 360 hp on all four wheels.  One way, hopes the lion firm, to keep the dragee high to the most powerful models of German brands and to constitute a bis range in the same way as the vehicles stamped AMG at Mercedes or M at BMW.

 In large scale

 Renault is developing a different strategy, based on less efficient but more affordable versions.  Despite the success of its electric models (19,000 Zoe sold in France last year), the brand recorded disappointing results in terms of CO2 emissions: 110 g in 2019 after 107 g in 2018 while Peugeot is in the  same time, increased from 107 g to 105 g.  These poor performances, which must be attributed to a stronger decline in diesel but also to inefficient petrol engines, require the diamond to develop hybridization on a larger scale.

 In June, the new Clio will be equipped with a mechanical (non-rechargeable) composed of a 1.6-liter (91 hp) naturally aspirated engine supplied by Nissan combined with two electric motors powered by a 1.2 kW battery.  Called E-Tech, the unit develops 140 hp and emits less than 100 g of CO2 per kilometer.  The first electric motor acts as an alternator-starter while the second most often drives the wheels.  Originality of this mechanism: it works without a clutch thanks to a dog clutch transmission which allows direct passage from one pinion to the other.

Lighter and cheaper to produce, the E-Tech system allows you to travel a few kilometers in all-electric mode and must, according to the manufacturer, reduce urban consumption by 40%.  The asking price will be comparable to that of a Clio diesel with automatic transmission, around 22,000 euros.  Renault ensures that this version, intended to replace diesel engines, can be depreciated from 15,000 km.  The Clio E-Tech will compete against the Toyota Yaris hybrid, pioneer of the genre and freshly renewed.

 This same engine will be simultaneously offered, but in a rechargeable version, on board the small Captur SUV with a 9.8 kWh battery ensuring a range of 50 to 65 km in all-electric mode.  The Clio’s CO2 emissions will be reduced to 32 g per kilometer, provided that it is regularly recharged.  The price is not yet known but it is likely that it will not be below 30,000 euros.  Subsequently, the Mégane will also be available in plug-in hybrid.  For the time being, no electrification is yet planned for the top of the range, an area which is the subject of deep introspection at Renault.