Published September 12, 2012
By Jeff Cobb
If, like a lot of environmentally and budget conscious folks, your idea of a “hybrid” is a sensible car that sips fuel, is reasonably priced, and does not pollute more than necessary, well you won’t see the point of the 600-bhp Peugeot Onyx hybrid concept.
No, you won't be alone in that sentiment, but you can also get in line at the complaint department at Ferrari, Porsche, and more automakers who are incorporating eco tricks to develop – as opposed to “quick and dirty” – effective and clean means to boost performance.
In fact, Ferrari and Porsche are working on up-to-and-over $1 million plug-in hybrids that are pending production, but for now this Peugeot looks like it will only be a design exercise.
As it is, its body is comprised of carbon fiber and hand-hammered copper sheet with acrylic windows and it’s being readied by Peugeot for several days this month of Paris motor show-goers’ responses including “ooh,” and “ahh,” and then, “what’s over there?”
But, just in case you are interested, the car is said to weigh only 2,425 pounds (1,100 kg) giving it a power-to-weight ratio of 1 horsepower for every 4 pounds of weight to propel. This compares to a “real” hybrid, the 99-horsepower, 2,500-pound Toyota Prius c which gets just 1 horsepower for every 25 pounds.
How’s that for some perspective on how outrageous this Peugeot is (and the Ferrari and Porsche and others to follow will be)?
The Onyx is built around a carbon fiber chassis with a 3.7-liter (rather small) V8 hybrid HDI FAP engine delivering all those extra horses through a six-speed sequential gearbox.
As do a growing number of race cars, it uses KERS (kinetic energy recovery system) regenerative braking. This system says Peugeot, sends braking energy to li-ion batteries that automatically discharge an additional 80-horsepower – yep, 80 percent of the total output of a Prius c just from braking energy – to add to speed potential.
Of course the idea also will be for this kind of vehicle – when coddled on the European drive cycle to simulate sedate, legal driving – to likely deliver crazy good fuel economy numbers for advertising purposes, potentially assuaging consciences, and satisfying regulators. We won’t talk about fuel consumption when power approaching the full 600 horsepower is being served up.
The concept's dimensions are: 183 inches (4,650 mm) long, 86.6 inches (2,200mm) wide, 44.5 inches (1,130 mm) high, and aerodynamic drag is a slippery 0.30.
Compressed felt is formed as a one-piece pod to serve as the passenger compartment, and the dashboard is made from recycled newspapers turned to wood. That has to be even more eco-sensible than the recovered sunken driftwood Fisker uses in some of its cars.
So far, no one has found a use for safely recycled baby seal tears for automotive purposes, but we are still waiting to hear when the first commercial application will be announced.
Next time you’re really bored at a party and want to tell a bad joke no one will get, you can ask someone "when does copper turn green?" When they answer “when it oxidizes,” say wrong, it’s when it is made into a Peugeot Onyx.
Seriously though, there is are benefits to over-the-top “green” cars on the roads, and the race track, and that is they create excitement, and get more people into the fray. They also help shed the frumpy and even at times self-righteous holier-than-thou image some associate with being environmentally sensible, so really, it all stands to add to the greater good.