The first hybrid that Peugeot wanted to sell in its history came more than a century ago, and it wasn’t a car: it was a tank

“We often hear that hybrid engines are recent, but that is not true,” says Hervé Charpentier, curator of the Peugeot Adventure Museum in Sochaux. And so it is, the first hybrid car was created by Ferdinand Porsche for the Lohner brand in 1899, known as Lohner-Porsche. Peugeot is another brand that experimented in this field more than 100 years ago already. “The first hybrid [de Peugeot] it was an armored vehicle manufactured in 1917 ”.

Before the Peugeot 508 RXH and 3008 RXH and the current range of plug-in hybrids, with the 508 HYbrid and 3008 HYbrid, the new 508 Sport Engineered de 360 CV or the most recent yet Peugeot 308, Peugeot has already made a hybrid model.

Marketed at the beginning of 2012 a few weeks apart, the 508 and 3008 RXH were characterized by the combination of an electric motor in the rear and a 163 hp 2.0 HDi diesel under the front hood. This solution has been abandoned in favor of 1.6 turbo gasoline engines and charging via plugs, in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive versions. But a century ago, Peugeot had already experimented with hybrid engines, although its audience was very different from today.

In the First World War, the brand responded to a contest by the Gallic army that it needed an armored car. Introduced in 1917, this tank used a gasoline of about 100 hp to power a generator.

This in turn fed the inductors of two electric motors, placed directly on the front and sprocket wheels, those in charge of driving the tracks. At first glance, it may seem that Peugeot did not seek the easiest solution.

Peugeot hybrid combat tank

The reason for this apparent technical complexity is that “it allowed Peugeot to avoid having to design a transmission, something that can be very complex in a tracked vehicle,” explains Hervé Charpentier. the possible breakdowns of the same by not being present, and that, on the battlefield is always an advantage.

A hybrid system in series

Peugeot hybrid combat tank

Thus, the engine had no mechanical connection to the wheels and only the electric motors moved the wheels. Ultimately, it was a series hybrid system, also known as extended autonomy electric, and in some markets it is enjoying a certain boom. For example, in current production, Nissan has reached the top sales positions in Japan with models equipped with this type of propulsion, with its models e-Power.

Perfectly functional, this prototype also benefited from better protection and a more efficient suspension than its competition rival, the Renault FT-17. However, it was the Renault tank that was chosen, thanks to its lower weight and especially its rotating turret. And the thing is that the barrel in the Peugeot tank had a reduced mobility.

Renault FT-17
The Renault FT-17 was finally the one chosen by the French army.

It is also said that Peugeot did not have enough production capacity to deliver the tanks on time. Be that as it may, the French army chose the Renault model and consequently, only one copy was made of the Peugeot, compared to the more than 3,500 copies of the Renault FT-17.

We would have to wait until 1991 to see a hybrid Peugeot again. It was with a prototype of a Peugeot 405 diesel, a precursor of the technology of the then PSA group and that we would see in the Peugeot 508 RXH.

Then it was the turn of the Peugeot 307. This was already a car much closer to production, since the brand tested a whole fleet of 307 in-house from 2006 of various bodies, including the coupé-cabriolet. It would be the last step before the launch of the 3008 and 508 RXH in 2012.

In Motorpasión | We tested the Peugeot 508 PSE: a less aggressive 360 ​​hp plug-in hybrid saloon than it seems

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