When the new 2016 Chevrolet Malibu rolls into showrooms later this year it will offer a variety of powertrain options including a base 1.5-liter turbo package that will feature standard Stop-Start, making it the latest in a growing list of models equipped with the fuel-saving technology.
Within the next decade, forecasts Navigant Research, Stop-Start will be standard equipment on the majority of new cars, trucks and crossovers sold worldwide, according to a new study by Navigant Research. That’s more than double today’s numbers.
“The basic Stop-Start system is gradually evolving into one piece of a multifaceted approach to improving fuel economy in light duty vehicles,” according to Navigant’s senior research analyst David Alexander.
Sometimes referred to as “micro-hybrid” technology, Stop-Start automatically shuts down an engine, rather than letting it idle when a vehicle comes to a stoplight, for example, or pauses in a fast food line. When the driver’s foot lifts off the brake the engine automatically fires back up.
The technology has become increasingly common already on high-end vehicles, in part due to the challenges luxury makers face in meeting ever stricter fuel economy and emissions standards. But Stop-Start is now migrating into more mainstream products, such as the Malibu.
(Click Here to check out the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu.)
Navigant expects such systems to be offered on 22% of the vehicles sold worldwide this year, with the figure surging to 55% by 2024. The following year, the U.S. Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standard is set to reach 54.5 mpg.
“The basic stop-start system is gradually evolving into one piece of a multifaceted approach to improving fuel economy in light duty vehicles,” noted Navigant’s Alexander.
And it is “spurring the development and implementation” of a wide range of related technologies that can kick into action when needed to reduce power demands. For example, a number of BMW products disable the power-robbing alternator when it is not required.
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Stop-Start has made its deepest inroads in Europe where fuel prices are among the highest in the world. Penetration is growing in the U.S., but not without “a wave of consumer resistance,” noted the Navigant analysis. While some versions of the technology are almost entirely seamless – a motorist might not even realize their engine has shut down – other versions are rough and noisy, especially when the engine restarts.
“Smoother and faster operation is key to gaining acceptance for stop-start systems in North America,” the Navigant report concludes.
Other recent studies have come up with similar results. The real question is just how much further the industry will have to go to meet tough new government regulations – and consumer demand.
A separate report by Navigant released last November forecast that conventional gas-powered engines will be in the minority by as soon as 2017, the majority of the world’s powertrains opting for fuel-saving features such as Stop-Start, turbo and supercharging, and more advanced hybrid and electric boost systems.
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