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Peugeot hybrids back on the wanted list

Switched on: Peugeot’s three-month study of the Australian hybrid market shows there is a place for lion-badged fuel sippers.

508 RXH, 3008 Hybrid4 electric-diesels back in line for Peugeot’s showrooms

8 May 2013

HYBRID cars are back on Peugeot’s agenda after a three-month study of the Australian market showed buyers are still interested in them.

The French car-maker announced in September last year that it would suspend plans to bring the mid-size 508 RXH diesel-electric hybrid wagon and petrol-electric 3008 Hybrid4 to Australia, saying development of hot-climate versions of the two cars was suspended.

However, Peugeot Automobiles Australia managing director Bill Gillespie told GoAuto that after taking another look at the market here, there is still room for the cutting-edge cars.

“We’re not finished with that (hybrid cars) yet,” Mr Gillespie said at the launch of the facelifted RCZ coupe this week.

“We’ve just finished a three-month-long study on hybrid cars in Australia which shows there is a demand for them, so as far as we are concerned we will bring hybrid cars to the market in Australia. It’s not a question of if, but when.”

According to Mr Gillespie, the French car-maker will have its first hybrid model on sale in Australia either late this year or early next year.

“We’ve done a lot of work before we made this decision. But our research has told us that we need to get price and specification right before we do anything else.”

Mr Gillespie said Peugeot’s research showed Australian buyers were prepared to pay a premium to get fuel-saving hybrid technology, but the difficulty was working out how much of a premium it could attract.

Early last year before the 508 RXH program was abandoned, Peugeot had talked about pricing the hybrid soft-roader at about $60,000.

 center imageFrom top: Toyota Camry Hybrid and Holden Volt.

“We know what that premium needs to be, but we need to work that out with the factory,” he said.

“Take a car like the ($59,990 Holden) Volt (petrol-electric hybrid) the Volt is a good car, but the way it is priced buyers need to make a clear choice about whether they want to buy it or not.”

He said the car-maker also had to contend with the dominant force behind hybrid technology in Australia – Toyota.

“Hybrid technology is being force-fed by Toyota with cars like the Camry Hybrid,” Mr Gillespie said.

“They really push this technology, and that is keeping prices down very low.”

Peugeot’s 508 RXH is based on the 508 station wagon, but with soft-roader looks including a raised ride height and wheel arch extensions.

However, unlike other hybrid cars, the 508 RXH uses a four-cylinder turbo diesel engine to drive the front wheels, and an electric motor that drives the rear wheels on demand to give it all-wheel-drive traction.

It officially uses less than 3.5 litres per 100 kilometres on the European test cycle – making it more fuel-efficient than a Toyota Prius.

The diesel-electric 3008 Hybrid4, which uses a more conventional diesel-electric system driving the front wheels, betters that, officially using about 3.1L/100km.

Bringing either vehicle to Australia would also give the French car-maker bragging rights for introducing the first diesel-electric hybrid vehicle to the market here.

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