Corporate Failure - 2012 Peugeot 908 Hybrid4
At the 1000 km of Silverstone back in 2008, during the height of the diesel era. Peugeot revealed and thus announced the 908 HY, the hybrid counterpart of the diesel 908 HDi FAP. Peugeot planned to race the new 908 HY in 2009.
Unfortunately, the project lost its momentum as Peugeot focusing on the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours race, this would be a pivotal move as Peugeot finally claimed victory around Circuit de La Sarthe for the first time since 1993 before ending their sportscar program in favor of supplying engines in Formula One from 1994 to 2000 with little success with their division was sold back to Asiatech.
With F1 wasn't going to their plan, Peugeot managed to grab three more manufactures titles in WRC before shutting down their rally program when Citroen starting their domination with Sebastian Loeb that spanned almost a decade. Peugeot finally returned to sportscar racing back in 2007 with the 908 HDi FAP and hoping to throw down Audi out of their thrown. The rivalry between two manufactures would continue after that.
Peugeot was in comfortable position after having won the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup in 2011 right before the inaugural season of the World Endurance Championship (WEC) in 2012.
The new ACO rule changes back in 2011 helped Peugeot a lot in terms of performance with now the Peugeot 908 has won 5 of the 7 races it has entered, narrowly missing out the overall victory at Le Mans to Audi.
Not only Audi, Toyota also joined the 2012 WEC season after being absent since 1999. With 3 manufactures eyeing for not only the Le Mans victory but also the WEC crown, every advantage is absolutely important. Peugeot already has their plan covered with the new 908 Hybrid4 replacing the normal 908 in 2012. Finishing their four years wait to use the technology. The new car was unveiled at Geneva 2011 with all eyes on them to capture the title.
Unsurprisingly, both Audi and Toyota responded with the R18 e-tron Quattro and the TS030 Hybrid.
The new 908 Hybrid4 still utilize the same chassis as the 908 that complies with the ACO rule changes in 2011. Although the chassis looks very similar to the old 908 HDi FAP, the biggest changes was the new sharkfin engine covers and the revised rear wing.
One downsize was the engine. Peugeot now uses a 3.7L twin turbo V8 Peugeot HDi engine to replace the 5.5L twin turbo V12 on its predecessor. Resulting in a loss of 150 bhp. While the loss in performance seems huge, the car's chassis an handling makes up the deficit which the car is much more agile in corners.
Although the 908 HY project lost its momentum, Peugeot Sport continued to develop the new technology closely. The 908 Hybrid4 main focus is the KERS system, in which the car recovers and stores kinetic energy generated under braking and feeding back to the driveline during acceleration. Therefore improves the efficiency of the power train.
The systems provided an 80hp punch during the seconds during its re-delivery. The energy is stored in lithium-ion batteries before automatically feeding to the rear wheels of the car under acceleration.
After a good shakeup in September 2011, the car is ready for testings before the 2012 season begins.
The car heads on the track for the first time on October 11th, 2011 during a test at Estoril in Portugal. Three drivers conducted the test which are Nicolas Minassian, Stéphane Sarrazin and Alexander Wurz and achieving a total distance of more then 300km. The feedbacks from the teams and drivers are positive and the cars are in good condition to challenge Audi and Toyota in 2012.
While preparing for a test at Sebring in early 2012, right before the opening round of the 2012 WEC season. Peugeot announced that their sportscar program would be terminated immediately after a huge loss in car sales which Peugeot reported a loss of over 400 million Euro. With the French marque close to bankruptcy, the company had to pull the plug of the program. The announcement was a severe blow to the Peugeot Sport Team. While one hand helping Audi to win the Le Mans 24 Hours and the WEC crown in 2012.
The 908 Hybrid4 was destined to be the car that would again conquered the almighty Audi. Unfortunately, the timing of the car debut was at the worst time possible as the manufactures experienced huge loss in car sales and was forced to pull out. Leaving fans without a chance to see the Audi, Peugeot and Toyota with Porsche later to duke it out and to see who is the king of LMP1. This would also marked the start of the hybrid race between manufactures. Marking a new era for sportscar racing.
If it raced... what if? That's a question for another day.