A supplier at this week’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit told visitors that adoption of start/stop technology will grow dramatically in the next two to three years.
“The wave is coming,” noted Robert Martin, director of engine electrical engineering at Denso International America. “Using start/stop, we can boost fuel economy by three to five percent, and that’s what the manufacturers want.”
Start/stop, which involves stopping a car’s engine at traffic lights as a means of saving fuel, is being viewed as a key technology in the North American automotive market because of pending 35-mpg fuel economy requirements, which must be met by 2016. Moreover, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that Americans annually burn about 3 billion gallons of gas while sitting idly in traffic, which wastes money and adds CO2 to the environment. Start/stop can help solve those problems, Martin said.
Denso’s solution is a beefed-up starter motor that’s connected to the car’s battery by a switch. The motor meets the performance requirements of start/stop operation, offering about ten times more starts than conventional starter motors. Martin said that conventional starter motors are built for a lifetime of about 35,000 starts, whereas start/stop motors must offer about 350,000 starts.
The technology is expected to offer an average fuel economy boost of about 3-5% — as much as 7% in big cars and less in smaller vehicles.
“These products will start appearing in North America in 2012,” Martin said. “We’re talking to all the OE’s (original equipment manufacturers) and we’re expecting big growth.”