The auto industry’s largest-scale change over the next 10 years won’t be the battery-electric car, the natural gas vehicle, or the hydrogen fuel cell. It will be the move to the start-stop micro-hybrid -- a conventional gasoline-burning vehicle that uses an enhanced gear-based starter to enable its engine to shut down for short stops.
By some estimates, as many as 30 million vehicles worldwide could employ the technology within the next five years. “It’s a big change,” Robert Martin, director of engine electrical engineering for Denso International America, told Design News in 2011. “We’re talking about 10 times as many starts. If you start your car two or three times a day now, then you might be doing 25 or 30 activations a day with start-stop.”
Because the vehicles will need to be able to handle from 300,000 to 500,000 starts over a lifetime, a new breed of components will be necessary. Starter motors will be the first of those. But batteries, sensors, DC/DC converters, and even air conditioning compressors will be needed, too. Automotive engineers hope the strategy will cut fuel consumption by 5 percent and CO2 emissions by 3 percent.
From batteries to starter motors, we present a collection of technologies that may take up residence in your start-stop car in the next 10 years. Click the image below to begin the slideshow.
Start-stop technology is at the low end of the electrification scheme, which begins with the start-stop micro-hybrid, and moves up through hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and pure electric cars. With each step in the electrification curve, CO2 emissions are reduced. (Source: Continental Automotive)
I used to laugh at the thought of a car starting and stoping with each traffic stop. I laughed until I was in a car that did that. I thought it was fascinating! It got me thinking of all the considerations for such a thing- airconditioning, lights, radio, and restarting, to name a few. Someone has been thinking! I am sold.
I hope it was an engineer that came up with this and not a high school student... Vanity rules!
Gas-powered golf carts have been using this technology for decades. Step on the gas pedal and the engine immediately starts to drive you to the next hole. Let up on it and the engine stops. I always wondered why this never propogated to cars.
Another bunch of good questions here. In particular, I wonder about the software algorithms. My guess would be that the engine control algorithms can be tweaked to help deal with wear issues, especially by the automakers who are also building hybrids and already have the intellectual property. To be sure, we'll talk to the suppliers.
This is a good question. I don't believe there would be a problem with traffic stalls, Rob, since the engine is warmed up and the starters are designed for 250,000 to 500,000 starts. It's not as if the engine is being started cold every time, but this is a question that I need to discuss with some of the suppliers.
That is a really good question that goes beyond stalled cars in traffic. I have an Audi Q5 Hybrid - a well engineerd car, but I do worry about the long term efffects of the temperature excursions that must occur within a hot engine, as well as the additional wear that I would think is associated with increased engine rotations without the lubrications system running (i.e, engine lubrication is at its lowest during start cycles since the oil pump is only minimally operating).
The compute power deployed in hybrids seems to be capable of deciding when to implement start-stop, and when not to (which my Audi appears to do). Are all cars using the start-stop technology going to employ the same sophisticated algorithms that the hybrids use?
I don't think that technology is the issue here, it is a matter of whether or not it is cost effective to employ that technology on an "inexpensive" start-stop system. I really love my new hybrid, and have to trust that the engineers at Audi have thought everything through, but it has not withstood the ultimate test of time yet.
As I imagine we have all experienced - engineers don't always have the final say in the design that is ultimately produced. Final designs are usually a compromise involving cost (understandably so).
Engineers need to keep asking the hard questions so that we end up with the best products possible for the dollar.
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