Pike Research says Stop-Start technology enables less fuel consumption at lower cost than full hybrids

Call them what you will, but stop-start vehicles (SSV) that go by the names of micro hybrids and idle-stop vehicles enable gasoline engines to turn off when vehicles are slowed down or stopped. The net effect per Pike Research is up to 10% less fuel consumption, less emissions and at a cost lower than full hybrids.

According to a special report from Pike Research, the sheer economics explains why the stop-start technology is on a steep growth curve.

Aside from a 5% to 10% reduction in both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, stop-start vehicles are only priced at a small premium over IC Engines. That makes them considerably less than full hybrid vehicles. That will empower the technology to be accepted easier especially in a tight economy.

The main question then is: Will consumers continue to purchase full hybrids at the present premium after less expensive stop-start vehicles are readily available?

Still, the technology is far from a cake walk. The main requirement still focuses on more robust batteries and starter systems than are found in internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. The ability to recharge and discharge is crucial to the efficiency of the system.

While it is surprising that Europe has by far more stop-start systems on the road, North America has experienced a relatively slow penetration of the technology. Pike Research implies one reason is due to less stringent emissions reduction goals and an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) testing cycle that underestimates the benefits of the technology.

If that is the case and in light of the coming 2016 government mandates, then I must return to the obvious question: Why isn’t the auto industry spending greater time on the split-cycle engine technology of companies like Scuderi and Tour? How about the external combustion steam engine of Cyclone? For sure, those technologies reduce fuel consumption and emission even more. In addition, each is capable of being shared with SSV technology or mimics a similar energy storage; especially the air hybrid which likely has an upper hand.

For the record, the only notable micro-hybrid or stop-start system right now in America comes in the form of Buick’s eAssist™ from General Motors Company (NYSE: GM). It uses a small version of the lithium-ion battery used on the Chevy Volt. Unfortunately, it’s still too expensive for the masses. That is why some engineers prefer replacing the Li-ion battery with ultra capacitors which have greater storage ability, plus much faster recharge/discharge rates at a lower cost.

How large will the market for stop-start vehicles be?

Pike Research forecasts that the market for stop-start vehicles will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 32% between 2011 and 2020, reaching a total market of 37 million vehicles sold annually by the end of the forecast period.

The report provides a comprehensive examination of the stop-start component systems as well as the battery technologies used for energy storage. The study includes forecasts through 2020 for stop-start vehicles, battery and ultra-capacitor sales in world regions.

According to a statement by Pike Research president Clint Wheelock, "The electrification of vehicles represents one of the most profound changes to the automotive industry in the past 100 years, both for consumer and fleet markets."

Yet, in this writer’s opinion, micro-hybrids or stop-start systems prove electrification doesn’t always have to be all or none. It’s is a classic example of using the synergy between the IC engine and electrification; plus it brings a little more balance to an already expensive economic equation that depends too much on government subsidies rather than free market forces.

[Image Source: Frank Sherosky at SAE World Congress 2011]

About the Reporter: After 39 years in the auto industry as a design engineer, Frank Sherosky now trades stocks, futures and writes articles, books and ebooks like, "Perfecting Corporate Character," "Awaken Your Speculator Mind", and "Millennial World Order" via authorfrank.com. He may be contacted here by email: [email protected]
Additional Reading:
Buick LaCrosse with eAssist on par with highway fuel economy of compacts
2012 Buick LaCrosse with eAssist Sticker Price is $29,960
ZF introduces the first 9-speed automatic transmission
Auto industry compromise with expensive EVs fails the masses
Scuderi Air-Hybrid Engine technology setting up to challenge electric hybrids
Cella Energy achievement may make hydrogen fill-up a reality
Stop-start technology to advance more micro hybrids by 2016
Four alternate engine technologies for 2011 and beyond

Sign-up to our email newsletter for daily perspectives on car design, trends, events and news, not found elsewhere.

Share this content.


Frank, when will you start answering some of your questions instead of repeatedly asking them? Seems like you lament over the same things over and over in each article. Call the oem's and find out why they're not going with Scuderi, tour, or cyclone! You're some kind of reporter, aren't you?