By Cameron Chai
The technology that automatically turns of the engine of a vehicle when it stops in traffic is set to enter the United States automotive market. This technology, labeled the stop-start system, is not new and has been in use in countries such as Japan and Europe. It is also known by other names such as idle-stop-go, idle elimination and micro hybrid.
A report by Lux Research envisages the incorporation of the stop-start technology in over eight million vehicles in North America by the year 2017.
According to John Nielsen, Director of the American Automobiles Association’s Automotive Engineering and Repair division, significant developments have taken place to enhance this technology since its inception in the 1980s and will be adopted by vehicle manufacturers in North America to comply with the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards put forth for the year 2016. The stop-start technology facilitates up to 12% improvement in fuel conservation and also enables reduction in exhaust emission. The system shuts down the engine when the brake is applied in vehicles with automatic transmission while it stops the engine when transmission is in neutral and clutch is released in vehicles with manual transmission. The engine restarts on its own once the brake pedal is released or clutch pedal is pressed.
A big challenge in the development of stop-start system is to ensure that the transition of the engine from stop to start is smooth. Other downsides are the high battery replacement costs and dip in performance of air conditioning and heating systems in case the engine shuts down for an extended period of time.