Achieving Fuel-Efficient Transport with Start-Stop Systems
June 12, 2017 | Jens Keiser, Senior Manager of Corporate Development
It’s clear fuel efficiency and greener transportation is top-of-mind among governments and consumers alike as states like New York and Vermont begin to offer incentives for drivers of electric cars. While these incentives are a step in the right direction, states should also consider giving rebates to those who purchase alternative eco-friendly and energy efficient vehicles. Cars that are better for the environment don’t begin and end with pure electric vehicles. Drivers can choose from efficient transportation options such as internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles with start-stop systems like micro-hybrids, hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), which all help benefit the environment and reduce drivers’ costs at the same time.
In micro-hybrids specifically, these eco-friendly benefits are achieved through start-stop technology that shuts off the engine when the car is stopped, preventing fuel waste and eliminating emissions. If a driver gets stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, the engine turns off. When he sits at a long red light, it does the same. Start-stop systems are based on a combination of intelligent engine,
brake and energy management, so once the driver removes pressure from the clutch or brake, the system knows to instantaneously restart the engine.
There has been a greater move toward vehicle electrification as automakers are increasingly under pressure to keep up with changing emission standards. Many developers are swapping out energy storage components like traditional lead-acid batteries with ultracapacitors because they offer near immediate power bursts during periods of peak power demand. In start-stop applications, ultracapacitors are used for fast restarts and to maintain the vehicle’s supply voltage.
While batteries can store large amounts of energy, they must be charged and discharged at low power levels to prevent the need for premature replacement. In comparison, ultracapacitors can store and discharge energy with high power quickly and effectively. Plus, they have a longer total lifetime than batteries and operate more reliably under extreme temperatures. The high power density of ultracapacitors ensures energy is delivered quickly, allowing cars to restart without a lag in vehicle operation. Compared to battery-powered start-stop systems, the restart powered by ultracapacitors is faster and smoother, allowing more power and torque to be delivered to the starter.
Improved fuel efficiency is a major trend in the automotive industry and it’s no surprise why. It allows automakers to comply with stricter emissions requirements and enables drivers to spend less money on fuel, while also doing their part to help the environment. As a result, global sales of light-duty start-stop vehicles are predicted to make up nearly 60 percent of all light-duty vehicle sales in less than 10 years. In this time, more automakers will look to ultracapacitor technology to meet vehicle electrification needs and ensure seamless operation of eco-friendly cars. As both consumers and automakers look to improve efficiency and reduce emissions, it is clear alternative vehicle options will continue to grow in popularity across the globe.
To learn more about how ultracapacitors are helping improve fuel efficiency, check out our work with GM: "General Motors Becomes First US Automotive OEM To Adopt Ultracapacitors For Start-Stop.”
Senior Manager of Corporate Development
About this author
Jens Keiser, Maxwell’s senior manager of corporate development, has over 15 years of experience in product marketing, business development and product management in business-to-consumer and business-to-business markets in both Europe and North America. Prior to joining Maxwell, Jens held marketing and business development positions with AOL Europe (
Berlesmann Group) in Munich, Deutsche Telekom AG in Frankfurt and Kyocera Communications Inc. in San Diego. Jens holds an MBA with a concentration in strategic management from the Peter F. Drucker School of Management (Claremont Graduate University, CA). Jens relocated from Germany to California in
2004, and lives with his wife and three children in San Diego.
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