In January Johnson Controls announced that its Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) battery technology will power Ford Motor Company’s 2013 Fusion Auto Start-Stop vehicle. Earlier this month the firm said its AGM will also power Chevrolet’s 2014 Malibu, which features Start-Stop (or Stop-Start).
Start-Stop systems can improve fuel economy by 5 percent or more because the car’s engine shuts off when the car comes to a stop in, say, bumper-to-bumper traffic. The car starts up again when the driver steps on the gas.
That’s trickier than it may seem because (a) it better work or horns will start honking and (b) all the comfort features – radio, air, etc. – had best keep working while the car is stopped. It’s a big job for a battery.
Start-Stop is quite popular in Europe. It’s estimated that by 2017, about 70 percent of all vehicles sold will include the feature as standard. Johnson Controls said it has manufactured more than 18 million AGM batteries since 2001 and now produces 4.5 million each year.
“AGM technology is ideal for Start-Stop applications because it is better equipped than traditional batteries to support electrical loads while the engine is off, and power deep cycling associated with frequent starts and stops,” said Ray Shemanski, vice president and general manager of the Original Equipment Group for Johnson Controls Power Solutions.
Alternative technology to power Start-Stop
PowerGenix offers an alternative technology – Nickel-Zinc (NiZn) batteries. It recently announced a contract with PSA Peugeot Citroën for evaluation of PowerGenix’s batteries as a replacement for lead-acid in Start-Stop vehicles.
“NiZn holds the potential to provide an ideal replacement for lead-acid by reducing the weight and CO2 emissions of our stop-start engine vehicles,” said PSA Peugeot Citroën innovation team manager Bernard Sahut. “This study marks PSA Peugeot Citroën Automobiles’s interest in working closely with PowerGenix to validate the promise of NiZn technology.”
PowerGenix’s batteries has also achieved certification by China National Laboratory’s Tianjin Automotive Test Center. The Chinese government is requiring passenger cars to achieve 34 miles per-gallon (MPG) by 2015 and 47 MPG by 2020. Micro-hybrid cars – gasoline or diesel-powered vehicles with automatic battery-powered stop-start systems appear to be one way to reach that goal.