GENEVA -- PSA Peugeot Citroen plans to talk to other carmakers, including alliance partner General Motors, about sharing development of low-cost compressed-nitrogen hybrids.
PSA wants to pool the cost of developing and manufacturing its Hybrid Air technology, which is expected to come in below 500 million euros (about $650 million), innovation director Jean-Marc Finot said.
The first cars using the technology are due to go on sale in 2016. "If we're to meet that timetable, we can't hang around," Finot said at the Geneva auto show. Partnerships will need to be agreed to within a few months, he said.
GM would be a natural collaborator on the new drivetrains in Europe, Finot said, adding that PSA also is seeking a partner for China, where it operates joint ventures with Dongfeng Motor Group and Chongqing Changan.
A GM spokesman said the technology "is currently not part of the alliance discussions" with PSA, declining to comment further.
Citroen's stand at the Geneva show displayed a C3 subcompact partly powered by the compressed nitrogen that PSA developed as a prototype with supplier Robert Bosch.
PSA has said the Hybrid Air cars would be priced below 20,000 euros ($26,000).
Unlike electric hybrids such as the Toyota Prius, which supplement a conventional engine with an electric motor, the PSA hybrid requires no costly batteries. Instead it uses a hydraulic motor driven by compressed nitrogen to assist the gasoline engine.
The system can cut CO2 emissions by almost a third in city driving conditions, the company says.
European hybrid sales rose about 50 percent last year, according to PSA data, even as the regional auto market shrank to a 17-year low.