BOULDER, USA: While automotive stop-start technology is virtually unknown in North America today, the benefits it provides in terms of fuel economy and emission reductions make the shift toward such vehicles inevitable. Stop-start systems enable gasoline engines to turn off when vehicles are slowed down or stopped.
Driven by efforts to meet mandated reductions of greenhouse gases, automakers have introduced stop-start vehicles (SSVs) over the last decade under a variety of names, including micro-hybrids and idle stop vehicles, and a number of brands released by the manufacturers. These vehicles offer 5-10 percent reductions in both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Requiring more robust batteries and starter systems than are found in internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, and priced at a small premium over ICEs, they are considerably less expensive than hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs).
According to a recent report from Pike Research, sales of stop-start vehicles will grow rapidly in the coming decade, rising from 3 million units in 2011 to 37.3 million units per year by 2020. By the end of the decade, a total of 186 million vehicles globally will incorporate the technology, which will become standard on the majority of vehicles sold in Europe as well as on dozens of models in North America and Asia.
“By 2020, stop-start vehicles will represent more than one-third of all light-duty vehicle sales,” says research director John Gartner. “SSVs are already outselling hybrids globally by a factor of 3.5 to 1, and that gap will widen to a 16 to 1 ratio by 2017 because of the lower cost of SSVs compared to HEVs.”
Indeed, the stop-start capability of hybrids has proved very popular with consumers, because of the quieting of the engine while stopped at an intersection as well as the increased fuel economy. Eliminating engine idling through stop-start technology is seen by automakers as a low-cost, highly beneficial investment.
Due to stringent emissions regulations, the largest SSV market for the forecast period will be Western Europe, which will represent 98 percent of the 3 million SSVs sold in 2011. By 2020, Western Europe will account for 42 percent of all SSVs sold. The fastest-growing region for SSV sales will be North America, where annual sales will roughly double each year from 2011 through 2020. More than two dozen SSV models were available in Western Europe as of early 2011, while in the United States, only three SSV models are for sale.