Monday, July 12, 2010

From Smart to Maserati, European Carmakers Going Green with Stop-Start

Maserati Quattroporte

The Maserati Quattroporte is one of dozens of new models that will use stop-start technology.

According to new research from the Yano Research Institute, more than 10 million cars worldwide will be equipped with stop-start systems by 2015�up from 900,000 in 2009. Start-stop systems, while sometimes referred to as micro-hybrids, are not really gas-electric hybrid vehicles. Cars using stop-start do not provide propulsion to the wheels. Instead, cars with stop-start use regenerative braking and battery storage to not burn fuel while at a stop.

Europe�"s increasingly strict emissions laws are forcing global automakers to adopt a range of greener technologies�and stop-start is a relatively cost-effective approach to increasing efficiency and reducing emissions. In fact, last month, Maserati CEO Harald Wester promised that the next-generation Maserati Quattroporte would use a stop-start system, as well as downsized engines.

As we reported last year, European carmakers see stop-start technology as a key strategy for reaching stricter emission standards�but the technology has not yet taken hold in the United States. Although all hybrids can shut down the engine when coming to a stop, currently there's not a single conventional vehicle available in the U.S. with stop-start. That could change when tougher U.S. fuel-economy standards are implemented beginning in 2012.

The Push for Stop-Start

Manufacturers of advanced auto batteries are primarily focused on the growing market for hybrid and electric cars. Yet, they are eyeing the stop-start market, because it�"s likely to greatly contribute to the overall growth of vehicle energy storage.

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