From Smart to Maserati, European Carmakers Going Green with Stop-Start
According to new research from the Yano Research Institute, more than 10 million cars worldwide will be equipped with stop-start systems by 2015—up from 900,000 in 2009. Start-stop systems, while sometimes referred to as micro-hybrids, are not really gas-electric hybrid vehicles. Cars using stop-start do not provide propulsion to the wheels. Instead, cars with stop-start use regenerative braking and battery storage to not burn fuel while at a stop.
Europe’s increasingly strict emissions laws are forcing global automakers to adopt a range of greener technologies—and stop-start is a relatively cost-effective approach to increasing efficiency and reducing emissions. In fact, last month, Maserati CEO Harald Wester promised that the next-generation Maserati Quattroporte would use a stop-start system, as well as downsized engines.
As we reported last year, European carmakers see stop-start technology as a key strategy for reaching stricter emission standards—but the technology has not yet taken hold in the United States. Although all hybrids can shut down the engine when coming to a stop, currently there’s not a single conventional vehicle available in the U.S. with stop-start. That could change when tougher U.S. fuel-economy standards are implemented beginning in 2012.
The Push for Stop-Start
Manufacturers of advanced auto batteries are primarily focused on the growing market for hybrid and electric cars. Yet, they are eyeing the stop-start market, because it’s likely to greatly contribute to the overall growth of vehicle energy storage.
Last year, supplier Valeo—which estimates that in cities cars spend up to one-third of their time idling at a standstill—agreed to supply 1 million systems to PSA Peugeot-Citroën by 2011. Since its introduction of stop-start systems, Valeo has booked orders to equip 50 vehicle models from more than 10 different automakers.
The list of other carmakers producing vehicles with stop-start systems includes BMW, Hyundai, Mazda, Nissan, and Volkswagen. In addition, the upscale Smart ForTwo Edition Highstyle, not available in the U.S., offers an automatic start-stop system as standard equipment in the 71-horsepower version. Smart calls the system, “micro hybrid drive.”