In what sense are these vehicles "hybrids" by any stretch of the imagination? The term properly refers to a vehicle that includes two (or more) sources of propulsion. The conventional gas-electric hybrid has some of the characteristics of a gasoline-powered vehicle, and some of an electric car.
Other kinds of hybrids are being developed, for example the gas-compressed air hybrid and the gas-hydraulic hybrid.
Simply shutting off the engine at stoplights doesn't make a gasoline-powered car a "hybrid." Really, we need a better word. This is marketing nonsense at its worst.
I drive a Ford Escape Hybrid SUV which starts / stops the gasoline engine very frequently. The starter motor is integrated in the flywheel of the engine, so no traditional starter motor is used. This allows the engine to be started without wear on flywheel gear teeth, actuating a high current solenoid, or engaging a starter Bendix. The high low end torque available from the electric hybrid motor allows one to get started moving at stop lights easily, with the gasoline engine starting when the vehicle gets to 40mph.
Its a great design, and a real hoot to drive on mountain roads using the regenerative braking to recover energy which would typically be lost to mechanical brakes.
In my opinion, we will be seeing much more of this type of solution in the future, using electric drive where it makes the most sense, and transitioning to gasoline for highway use.
I read the part about using a pump to keep coolant flowing to heat the cabin and a secondary evaporator but is the engine allowed to run till it can build up the heat or cooling necessary to be maintained? I think a lot of us stop shortly after we get started in the morning. It takes 5 minutes or so for my car to heat up in the morning during winter. By then I've sat at 3 traffic lights. Same problem when leaving in the afternoon while it's bright and sunny during summer. You go home from the mall and it's 130 deg in your car. The first thing you do after getting started is wait at the light to get out to the main road. I also wonder if a 1 minute reserve will be practical.
You suggest that the key challenge is to make stop/ start ( S/S) systems seamless. I believe that the 3 million cars now on the road in Europe have proven the technology to be seamless. The American need for automatic transmissions has been a battle but Bosch seems to have resolved the issue.
The engineering struggle has been the battery. It takes 90% of the battery to run the accessories when the car is stopped. It takes only 10% of the battery to start and restart the automobile. The accessory demand keeps the battery in a state of constant discharge. Even the most advances lead acid battery ( AGM) starts to fail in about three months. The S/S system then quits working.
To counteract this a cheap battery had to be found that can accept the Dynamic Charge Acceptance required in a S/S system. Axion Power International has developed such a battery. Here is a link to the BMW white paper that explains the DCA issue and solution.
Interestingly GM is working with the Axion PbC battery for its E-assist program, also. The PbC battery accepts the regenerative braking charge faster and longer than anything else in its class.
Although the American consumer still distrust the idea of a stopped car at a stoplight that idea will wane after positive use. It is my hope that the S/S systems give the positive experience drivers deserve. I can think of no worse waste of fuel than running a vehicle at a stop light.
Bad news, Ann. There are software elements to this technology. There's a lot of anticipation, sensing and timing involved, and it couldn't be done without computers. Worse news: Within 10 years, none of us who buy new cars will have much choice in the matter.
You talk about concern over stopping when the foot is off the gas or concern for a starter failing, but isn't the whole point that the technology will evolve to the place where as a passenger/driver you won't notice the stop/start mechinations, or at worst, maybe only slightly so.
I just got back from a visit with my parents who have a Prius. As a passenger, I only slightly noticed the stop/start and that's with what's likely outdated technology. Unless the technology evolves to that degree, there will be few buyers and once it does evolve to that point, it's so in the background, it almost becomes a moot issue.
Good grief, a car that goes into sleep mode to save energy. I wonder how long it will take for the mechanisms that control it to fail. I say this as someone whose laptop just started having sudden attacks of narcolepsy. We think we've eliminated hardware problems, but even when we reset the energy controls so it isn't supposed to sleep ever, either display or drive, it occasionally has narcoleptic attacks. So we're looking into possible software issues.
Anyway, I'm with Beth. This has to be completely transparent to the user. And whatever mechanism controls when and how often the engine stops and starts again, I hope it's not software driven.
As energy efficiency becomes more and more a concern for makers of electronics devices, researchers are coming up with new ways to harvest energy from sound vibration, footsteps, and even electromagnetic fields in the air.
The government wants to study your brain, and DARPA wants to use similar information to give robots true autonomy beyond any artificial intelligence developed to date. Sound like science fiction? It's not.
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