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PSA announcement: new modular EV powertrain for 2019

Groupe PSA's CMP design for battery EVs

Peugeot and Citroen to share common powertrain platform for new battery electric and hybrid models

This week Groupe PSA, the manufacturer behind the Peugeot, Citroen and DS brands, unveiled an intriguing strategy for future vehicle development. Consolidating its development pipeline, and drawing on some international help, it unveiled two modular platforms upon which it intends to build future battery-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, the first of which will be released in 2019.

Two concepts were covered in the announcement: the Common Modular Platform (CMP) designed for BEVs; and the Efficient Modular Platform (EMP2), a hybrid design for compact and premium models.

Details on the latter suggest it is an updated version of a design already used in existing models. PSA explains that the EMP was “launched first in 2013 with the new Citroën C4 Picasso and Peugeot 308 and then in 2014 in China,” and that from 2019 it will form the backbone for its hybrid petrol models, including SUVs and crossovers (CUVs).

Groupe PSA's plug-in hybrid powertrain
Groupe PSA’s plug-in hybrid powertrain

For Electrans’ purposes, the former platform is of greater interest. First is the fact that the CMP is built, designed and financed in partnership with China’s state-owned DongFeng Motors (DFM), one of the “Big Three” in the Chinese automotive industry. PSA has been working with DFM since 1992, and the company has a number of JVs with Nissan, Renault, Cummins, Honda and others, all of which suggests electric platforms such as the CMP will increasingly become the norm in China.

According to PSA, the Common Modular Platform will form the powertrain for multiple compacts, sedans and compact SUVs, as part of “a new generation of spacious, multi-purpose electric vehicles.”

Most interesting of all is PSA’s pretty ground-breaking claim that this will offer “a driving range of up to 450 km and ultra-fast charging solutions, providing up to 12 km of driving per minute of charging.” If that’s true in practice, it would mark a pretty significant step forward for the sector.



Range arrogance

The first thing to bear in mind about that 450-km range is that it is based on a New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) rating, an incredibly optimistic and unrealistic interpretation of how vehicles are used. If we assume that the NEDC allows for something like a 30% premium on other ratings – e.g. the EPA’s – the range looks more like 315km – much a much lower but nevertheless respectable total.

All CMP-based vehicles will be powered by a 115-HP motor, although further details on the motor and the battery are scarce so far. The press kit for the CMP lists a “state-of-the-art” li-ion battery, weighing 300kg, around 200 litres in volume and with 50kWh of capacity, none of which seems particularly revolutionary.

If the literature is to be believed, some of the gain in range will come from the CMP’s “next-generation” heat pump, which “greatly reduces the energy required for heating compared to a standard system…providing a 50km gain in operating range.” We’re a little sceptical that this would be the case in practice, but hopefully we can be proved wrong.

Identifying one of the key consumer concerns over EVs, much space has been devoted to PSA’s new charging system. An ultra-fast charge (presumably at designated charging stations) promises an 80% recharge in 30 minutes, or 12km per minute, all of which is fairly convincing. At home, the CMP’s 7-kW on board charger will allow for 100km of range in a 90-minute charge, or a full charge in 8 hours (although you’ll need to install a wallbox, suggesting a harder sell for urbanites without garage access).

After the first model in 2019, PSA says it will have four pure electric models (and seven hybrids) on the market by 2021. There are few indications at this point as to whether these will be under the Peugeot or Citroen bands or the type of cars they might be – although it did confirm that the first will be the new Peugeot 3008 hybrid. Beyond that, based on the emphasis on compacts, it’s more likely that these new models will be aimed at the affordable market rather than the luxury segment. Again, that’s good news for the wider adoption of EVs.


French revolution

In addition, PSA also announced that much of the powertrain would be made in Europe:

For strategic reasons, PSA Group has decided to manufacture the main electric powertrain components in France, signalling its determination to develop high-tech operations in profitable niche markets. The electric powertrain will be produced at the Trémery/Metz centre of excellence, while the gear systems will be manufactured at the Valenciennes plant.

It’s encouraging as it suggests EVs will form a key part of the Group’s future plans, rather than a side business or a concession to DFM. Yet many have complained that PSA remains thoroughly behind the market curve. Given the 3-year wait – even for a hybrid – few will be holding their breath for a model which would be highly competitive right now, but may not be in 3 years.

Still, as Peugeot suggests in its press release, “Everything is possible in the future.” Maybe we can still be surprised.


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