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A greener Europe

John Day

John Day

Posted Sep 24, 2009

Is it just me or is it a law of nature? I’m at an otherwise empty intersection waiting for the red light to turn green, thinking about the gas I’m wasting, but nothing happens until another vehicle on the cross street reaches the intersection. THEN the light turns green. I can go and let the other driver think about the gas he or she is wasting – unless they are driving a hybrid, in which the engine will shut off when the vehicle comes to a stop and start right up again when the light changes.

A recent announcement from Maxwell Technologies reminded me that stop-start systems are not necessarily limited to hybrid vehicles, especially in Europe. Maxwell said that Continental selected Maxwell’s BOOSTCAP ultracapacitors as the energy storage element of a voltage stabilization system that supports stop-start functionality for improved fuel efficiency and reduced emissions.

Stop-start systems reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by shutting off the car’s engine as the vehicle slows and restarting the engine when the driver engages the clutch or touches the accelerator. In Continental’s system, the ultracapacitor module will provide burst power to re-start the engine, relieving the car’s battery of high currents and repeated cycling that can shorten battery life. It will also provide a “reservoir” of power to ensure stable functioning of the vehicle’s electrical system when multiple power demands tax the system.

IHS Global Insight believes that start-stop systems are about to take off in Europe due largely to pending limits on CO2 emissions. The analyst firm predicted that 2.8 million vehicles with the feature would be sold in 2010; about 2.5 million on the Continent and the rest in Asia. Europe is about to get greener.

Major suppliers of stop-start systems include Valeo, Bosch, DENSO, and Continental. Valeo estimates that city drivers spend as much as one-third of their time at a standstill with their engines idling. So it’s not just me. The company contends that its stop-start technology can reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by as much as 15%.

PSA Peugeot Citroën plans to equip more than one million vehicles with Valeo stop-start technology by 2011. Valeo also equips the Volvo S-40, Mercedes A and B Classes, and the Smart Fortwo. Bosch supplies stop-start systems for BMW and Mini vehicles. DENSO collaborated with Toyota to develop a permanently engaged starter for start-stop systems. Launched in January on Toyota Auris and Yaris models sold in Europe, the starter is said to achieve a quicker, smoother, quieter engine restart.

Toyota, Stop-Start Systems, Valeo, CO2 Emissions, Volvo, Mini, PSA Peugeot Citroën, DENSO

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John DayJohn Day recently launched John Day’s Automotive Electronics News ( to provide news and feature coverage of the automotive electronics industry. Earlier he wrote for Auto Electronics magazine, Auto E-lectronics, EE Times, and other business and engineering publications. Visit John Day

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