There is still a lot of low-hanging fruit to be plucked in the bid to increase fuel economy, including wider application of micro-hybrid start-stop systems. Rather than providing any forward motion, micro-hybrids allow engines to shut down at idle, eliminating the waste of fuel when the vehicle is stopped. Johnson Controls has announced a smaller and cheaper micro-hybrid battery that could encourage the wider use of this fuel-saving technology.
Whereas previous micro-hybrids relied on batteries that took up a sizable chunk of trunk space, Johnson Controls has shrunken a 48-volt lithium-ion battery down to the size of a shoebox. When combined with an advanced lead-acid 12-volt battery to provide the initial starting power, this system could represent a great leap forward in micro-hybrid technology, also known as start-stop tech.
The reduction in size also comes with a reduction in cost, though the unit only has an expected lifespan of four years. Still, replacement will be relatively easy, and fuel economy gains could be as high as 15% in vehicles with bigger engines, and can even be paired with regenerative braking for more fuel savings. Micro-hybrid systems provide all the necessary electrical power at idle, shutting down the engine to save fuel and then seamlessly restarting when the gas pedal is pressed. These systems are cheap and effective, although American fuel economy testing methods don’t take their benefits entirely into account.
That could change if automakers make a push to change the rules, as has happened in Europe where micro-hybrids are an increasingly popular option to full-on hybrids that carry a higher price premium. If the incentive is there, automakers will build it. But are buyers ready for a lesser hybrid experience?
Source: The Truth About Cars