Peugeot has used the final round of the 2008 Le Mans Series season to give a brief glimpse of the technology it could elect to utilise in future with its sportscar programme.
The team unveiled a 908 HDi FAP running as a hybrid demonstrator, with the car being fitted with a kinetic energy recovery system similar to those that will become common place in Formula One in the coming seasons. The car completed a series of demonstration laps at Silverstone, where the regular diesel cars will start first and second on the grid for the final round of the campaign.
The 908 HY uses a system that will harness the kinetic energy produced under braking and then allow it to be used in one of two ways; either by enhancing performance or by reducing fuel consumption by using the stored energy alongside the conventional mechanical engine.
The demonstrator car contains three key elements that enable the KERS system to work, with a 60kW gear-driven electric motor-generator taking the place of the conventional starter motor, a range of batteries which permit recovered energy to be stored in 600 lithium-ion cells divided into 10 battery packs (six in the cockpit instead of the conventional battery and four on the left-hand side of the flat bottom) and an electronic power converter which controls the flow of energy between the batteries and the motor-generator.
Those three elements combine to allow the car to be powered in three different ways, either on the regular combustion engine, on electric mode only or using a combination of the two. At a circuit such as Le Mans, where energy will be recovered for between 20 and 30 seconds, the team would then be able to benefit from around 20 seconds of extra power per lap or would be able to reduce fuel consumption thanks to the mechanical energy recovered by between three and five per cent.
"This hybrid 908 HDi FAP is in perfect keeping with the overall mission of our endurance racing programme which covers not only the challenge of competing, of course, but also the fact that as a car manufacturer we can use motor sport as a research and development tool for the Peugeot brand as a whole,” Peugeot Sport director Michel Barge said. “After innovating through the use of our HDi FAP technology in competition, running a hybrid car in endurance racing would give Peugeot a chance to gain extremely valuable experience that would benefit the development of production cars.
“Whether we use this technology or not in 2009 will obviously depend on the details of the new regulations published by the Automobile Club de l'Ouest."
The team is unlikely to run the car before the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours, with the ACO having already revealed that hybrid cars will be able to compete at La Sarthe next year but won't be classified.