Pike Research Forecasts Rapid Rise of Idle-Stop Vehicles

Sales of hybrids have yet to break beyond about 3 percent of new car sales in the United States. But the mildest form of gas-electric technology that prevents a car from using any gasoline when idling—known as micro-hybrid, stop-start or idle-stop—could be the cost-effective breakthrough fuel-saving technology in the hybrid age, according to a new study by Pike Research.

Pike researchers forecast that global sales of idle-stop vehicles will rise from 3 million units in 2011 to 37.3 million units per year by 2020. That means more than one-third of all light-duty vehicle sales will have a stop-start feature.

The idle-stop feature doesn’t use an electric motor and batteries to move the car down the road and is not considered a hybrid by many standards—but it’s nonetheless a relatively low-cost feature that can increase fuel efficiency by as much as 10 – 15 percent. “Stop-start vehicles strike an attractive balance between cost and fuel efficiency improvement,” said John Gartner, Pike senior analyst.

Pike’s forecast is sanguine at the global level, but most of that activity will continue to take place in Europe where more than two dozen stop-start models are currently available. The EPA and NHTSA project that around 42 percent of vehicles in the U.S. will have stop-start by 2016. Yet, progress in that direction is slow. There are currently only three non-hybrids offering the feature in the United States: the BMW M3, and the Porsche Cayenne and Panamera models.

Pike believes that Europe’s faster uptake on idle-stop is due to more stringent emissions regulations there. As we reported last month, another factor could be the efficiency test cycle used in the United States. The three 2011 models using idle-stop do not get a boost in MPG on window stickers, or for CAFE standards, compared to 2010 models without idle-stop.

The lack of [regulation] incentives for automakers to add idle-stop technology here will keep sales in North America well below Europe and Asia, according Gartner. “American consumers would embrace vehicles that don’t burn fuel when stopped if they had [model] options,” Gartner said.

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  • Charles

    In order to get better data about how we really drive, would you be willing to participate in a university study that used the GPS and accelerometers in your smart phone to collect data? The data would only be collected when your smart phone is connected to your car via Bluetooth. The only data collected would be your time driving, speed, acceleration and distance. No time of day, location or direction would be recorded. The acceleration data would be composite acceleration, so that direction would be very hard to back out of the data. The data would be transmitted only when you connect to the study’s web site.

    So would you sign up? Would you demand money for your participation?


  • shopa

    Most commuters crawl in rush hour traffic twice a day.
    Start-stop would save more gas than it gets credit for.

    I have invented a way to make small, light cars safer in collisions.
    Small and light cars use much less gas.


  • Capt. Concernicus

    Start stop technology is a good idea, but it’s not by any means a way something that is going to boost your MPG’s that much.

    If you really wanna boost your MPG’s go and buy a hybrid. You’ll notice a huge boost in MPG’s. It’s possible in a Prius to drive 15 mins. in rush hour traffic and average 100 mpg’s. Of course it drains the battery, but the engine barely kicked on for a minute the whole time.

    Think of it this way. When you’re in your car at a stop light how many MPG’s are you getting…the answer is zero. So if start-stop technology is in your car and it claims optimistically a 15% gain in MPG’s…how many more MPG’s will you get when you increase 0 mpg by 15%? The answer is still zero.

    However, it does keep you from consuming more fuel than you normally would. And there are A LOT of wasteful people that keep their car engines running for no reason and that is a good reason to have this tech in the vehicles. To keep those id10ts from wasting a precious resource because they cannot seem to think more than 5 mins. ahead.

    Driving the Malibu for a few days in traffic made me sick. I felt bad for wasting so much fuel, so I was happy to get back into my Prius after those few days.

  • Anonymous

    EPA test is real reason you don’t see much start/stop in US. Pity since it’s estimated only $300-$500 to cost and especially on luxury cars it’s ridiculous carmakers remove it to save some cost.

    Savings are roughly 3%-8% but of course depends on driving pattern. There are certainly many people who get stuck in traffic or do a fair amount of city driving.

  • Anonymous

    Something is better than nothing. Let the people start talking about some type of hybrid, later their friends and neighbors may start buying full hybrids.

    Fully Hybrids are way to expensive, the Prius starts at 23.5 K while the Insight (Partial Hybrid) starts at 18.2 K is not accepted by the Hybrid community at large.

    Meanwhile the Buick Lacrosse which is another Mild Hybrid is going to be available soon and it has 25/37 City / Hwy MPG. The other model in it will be V6 Flexfuel, so no regular V4 is available. Sadly some $2,800 is added to the price, but this could be because of the increase in price of steel and other components. If a big vehicle like Lacrosse could give 37 MPG, many will go for this and this will challenge full hybrids to give more Mileage.


  • Capt. Concernicus

    @ Anonymous,

    Full hybrids are too expensive? You just stated that a Prius starts at $23,500. But a Buick Lacrosse starts out at $27,300 and that’s without the 37 mpg’s. The 37 mpg version will certainly be more money. So you’re already $4,000 MORE than the Prius base price which gets 50 mpg in the city and highway.

    So please tell me how you can justify buying the Lacrosse over the Prius when the Prius is less expensive and gets WAY MORE MPG’s than the Lacrosse?

    What makes you think us full hybrid owners don’t accept people that own the Insight or CR-Z?

    One last thing. As a 2nd gen Prius owner I will NEVER EVER feel that a Lacrosse will EVER compete with me in fuel economy. NEVER EVER.

    I average 49.7 mpg and that’s on 70% city driving and 30% highway.

    The Lacrosse MAY get 37 mpg on the highway, but in the city that number will nose dive to about 23 mpg. Meanwhile I’ll still be averaging 49 mpg.

    Why pay all that money for the Lacrosse when a person can get a full hybrid?

    Just curious…

  • The other Anonymous

    @Anonymous: You said full hybrids are ‘expensive’.
    But it seems you’re touting a ‘mild’ hybrid at over 30 grand!
    Oh my …

    FYI, Buick prices 2012 LaCrosse with eAssist from $30,820.
    Prius starts from $24,280 (including shipping etc)
    Insight starts from $18,970 (also includes shipping) and gets EPA 40/43, that’s 60% and 16% better than the LaCrosse eAssist.

    What are you thinking?

  • Anonymous

    Hello Capt Copernicus

    I also have Prius-2007 and averaged 49.5 MPG in a Chicago-Orlando (2,500 mile) round trip with 4 passengers and hatch full of stuff with AC ON most of the time.

    Buick is like a semi luxury vehicle and compared to the gas guzzling Lacrosse, the Mild Hybrid Lacrosse is much better. A typical Buick buyer will not consider a Prius like vehicle and only for them the Hybrid Lacrosse is better.

    That’s why I said that let some buy this vehicle and their relatives and neighbors will start talking about Hybrids and may end up buying Prius or Insight as well. I hope I clarified your doubts.

    I am a big time Hybrid and Prius fan.

  • Anonymous

    Don’t forget the Honda Insight also gets great real world fuel mileage.

    According to EPA user report mileage:

    2010 Honda Insight- 47.35 mpg (39 users)
    2010 Toyota Prius- 48.9 mpg (145 users)

  • John K.

    Q: When will the EPA revise its testing procedure so that the fuel savings of stop-start actually makes a difference in their ratings??? The EPA is an administrative agency. Can’t Obama, the head of the administration, merely sign an Executive Order (“Stroke of the pen, law of the land. Kind of cool.”), to get them to do this IMMEDIATELY?

  • shweta007

    I agree with your sayings , nice suggestion given.