After revealing its completely redesigned 2011 908 Le Mans Prototype last month, Peugeot announced a hybrid version today at the Geneva Motor Show. The Peugeot 908 Hybrid4 adds a hybrid component to the 3.7-liter diesel V8. Peugeot has been fiddling with this since late 2008, but the car that debuted at the Geneva Motor Show may actually see competition.
While Peugeot is using the same Hybrid4 branding as its production hybrids like the upcoming 3008 crossover, the system is completely different. The road-going hybrids use a through the road configuration with the conventional powertrain driving the front wheels and an electric motor powering the rear axle. Last year’s Porsche 911 GT3 hybrid (and the newer 918 RSR) use a similar setup with the electric drive on the front axle and engine on the rear.
The 908 Hybrid4 sends both the diesel and electric power to the rear wheels. The 60 kW motor/generator captures kinetic energy under braking and stores it in a lithium ion battery. The 0.139 kWh of stored energy is automatically released and blended with the engine power when accelerating with no push-to-pass button required. The powertrain can also drive the 908 in pure electric mode along the pit-lane where speeds are limited.
Right now Peugeot hasn’t committed to racing the 908 Hybrid4. They’re French, remember. It will be track tested later this month alongside the conventional diesel 908. If everything goes well, Peugeot will bring the hybrid to the official Le Mans test day on April 24. What happens beyond that will depend on how both cars run against the new Audis and Aston Martins. Because overall victory is Peugeot’s top priority, the conventional car will get most of the effort in order to make sure it is reliable and fast. If the team is confident enough in the base car, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the hybrid run as a third (or fourth) entry.