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BMW and PSA join hybrid forces

Go your own way: BMW and PSA both have hybrids in the pipeline, including BMW's EfficientDynamics supercar (pictured) and Peugeot's 3008 Hybrid4 crossover.

French and German makers unite as PSA Peugeot Citroen join forces to develop hybrids

4 Feb 2011

BMW Group and PSA Peugeot Citroen are to extend their powertrain-sharing cooperation from mid-2011 to include the development of hybrid technology that will make it into production vehicles from 2014.

The 50:50 equity joint venture, dubbed BMW Peugeot Citroen Electrification, is subject to approval by European competition authorities but once given the go-ahead, will provide both companies with economy of scale benefits while they develop and produce components for hybrid drivetrains including battery packs, electric motors, generators, power electronics, chargers and the related control software.

Besides the development of standard componentry that will be shared between future BMW and PSA hybrid vehicles, the project’s aim is to develop an open European platform for the technology, involving external suppliers in the development of components and even selling the technology to other vehicle manufacturers.

A joint press release that was issued with the announcement says that the planned open platform will “help the European motor industry to structure itself in the field of hybridisation”.

 center imageFrom top: Peugeot RCZ, Citroen DS3, Mini Cooper S.

The operation will be headed by BMW’s head of purchasing strategy Wolfgang Gullich as CEO and PSA’s director for customer satisfaction and quality planning Jean Leflour as managing director.

Expertise will be drawn from both BMW and PSA’s workforces while creating new jobs by hiring external staff.

PSA has already made headway with hybrid technology and will debut its diesel-electric, all-wheel drive Hybrid4 system in the 3008 crossover this year. It also announced an extension to its relationship with Mitsubishi for the development of zero-emission EVs last year.

Meanwhile, BMW has experimented with EV technology in its Mini E and last year confirmed that it will produce a diesel-electric hybrid supercar in the vein of its Vision EfficientDynamics concept, named after the Bavarian manufacturer’s technology programme that helps increase the efficiency of its internal combustion engines.

BMW and PSA first started working together in 2006 when the R56 Mini was launched, powered by 1.4- and 1.6-litre “Prince” naturally aspirated and turbocharged petrol engines which were later joined by PSA diesels – although BMW has now reverted to an in-house diesel powerplant for the Mini.

Since the original collaborative agreement, 1.8 million engines have been shipped, PSA cars including the Peugeot RCZ coupe and Citroen DS3 hatch sharing engines with the Mini range. Last year BMW and PSA agreed to continue this working relationship with the development of next-generation, EU6-compliant four-cylinder engines.

In addition, as GoAuto reported last September, BMW also signed an agreement to supply Saab with 1.6-litre petrol engines to power the next 9-3, which is due to go on sale in Europe late next year.

The automotive industry is becoming ever more incestuous, with rivals teaming up in a bid to spread development costs and protect profit margins as vehicles get increasingly complex to satisfy progressively stringent safety and environmental legislation and the expectations of picky customers.

Mazda has recently announced that it will supply badge-engineered minivans to Nissan (which has an alliance with Renault).

Mitsubishi shares its i-MiEV and Outlander with PSA and is in discussions with promiscuous Nissan to jointly develop a new one-tonne ute, while Nissan will provide Mitsubishi with a rebadged van to replace its aged Express and Mitsubishi will rebadge an SUV for Nissan to sell in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, Renault-Nissan has agreed to share platforms and engines with Daimler that will see the next Smart based on the Twingo, Mercedes engines under the bonnets of Infinitis and Renault-Nissan engines powering the next Mercedes A-class and Vito van.

In Europe, Ford’s Ka city car is based on the platform that underpins Fiat’s 500 and Panda, is built at Fiat’s Tychy plant in Poland and is powered by Fiat engines. Rival General Motors’ current Opel Corsa is closely related to the Alfa Romeo MiTo, riding on underpinnings co-developed with Fiat and using Fiat-developed diesel engines.

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