Peugeot has given us a look under the skin of its upcoming Le Mans Hypercar platform, set to race in the World Endurance Championship in 2022. As the Hybrid4 500kW name suggests, it’ll have 500kW, or a whopping 680PS.
Generating all this power for Peugeot’s Le Mans contender is a 165kg 2.6-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine in combination with an electric motor. The former contributes a heady 680PS (500kW), while the latter, 270PS (200kW), for an unrestricted total output of around 950PS. Power will go to all four wheels, per the name, with the electric motor deploying its performance via the front wheels and a single-speed transmission. The petrol engine will put its power to the back via a seven-speed sequential gearbox.
“The architecture of the Peugeot Hybrid4 500KW powertrain is the result of a highly- detailed brief shaped by the new FIA WEC regulations,” says François Coudrain, Peugeot Sport’s WEC Programme Powertrain Director.
“We initially considered a single turbo, but that would have prevented us from achieving our engine’s centre of gravity target. A twin-turbo V6 block offers the best trade-off between technology, weight, packaging of the engine’s ancillaries, reliability and performance.”
The battery, a collaboration with Total subsidiary Saft, will be optimised to charge fast, deploy its power fast and hold just enough juice for controlled bursts. “The main parameter will be to optimise how the energy stored in the battery is used,” explains Kamen Nechev, Saft’s Chief Technical Officer.
“To achieve this, you need an extremely short charge-time combined with high-capacity storage cells to form a package that enables maximum power to be delivered as rapidly as possible. The most competitive solution resides in the management of charge optimisation and the amount of power available in real time.”
“The motor generator unit will be equipped with a lightweight, high-efficiency single-speed transmission and a latest-generation inverter to transfer battery power to the motor,” Coudrain continues.
“It will have the capacity to use all the energy available in the battery instantly thanks to the powertrain’s energy management system strategies. PSA Motorsport’s experience of the WRC and Formula E will contribute to the development of the software to manage the computer and energy systems.”
Of course, per the new FIA WEC hypercar rules, that entire system output won’t be available all at once. Given the internal combustion engine alone tops the 680PS regulatory limit, they can’t run at full capacity in tandem. So Peugeot takes advantage of the FIA’s rule that EV power is restricted to speeds above 75mph. Once at speed, once the hybrid power kicks in, the engine is throttled back via the mapping to just over 400PS.
Yes, this means that through low-speed corners, the big Pug will be a 680PS rear-driven machine, while through high-speed-stuff, it’s four-wheel-drive. In theory, the performance should feel consistent and seamless to the drivers, though they’ll need to be mindful of where that power is going… There’s no getting around those limits either. Each car will be equipped with tech that feeds power outputs to FIA regulators in real time, as the racing goes on.
We didn’t think we could be more excited for Peugeot coming back to top-level endurance racing. We were wrong. Now all we can hope is that someone works a weekend shift to develop an ‘Evo’ setting for the full 900PS-plus hit, perhaps for deployment at a future Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard...