Until very recently, a great number of consumers weren’t familiar with the type of cars defined as micro-hybrid. Even though leading research companies such as Lux Research have been foreseeing the vast proliferation of micro-hybrid vehicles for years, the most recent research actually predicts that there will be up to 39 million on the road by 2017. Outside of the European Union, the technology has remained in the shadows of flashier electric cars and more popular as well as ubiquitous hybrid autos such as the Toyota Prius.
These days the tide is starting to change. A great number of carmakers such as Volkswagen, Ford, BMW, Kia, etc. will all start offering stop-start technology, a crucial characteristic of micro-hybrid vehicles, in their latest models in North America for $300 extra. By the way, micro-hybrid cars are already common in the European Union and rapidly catching on in China.
As the technology for micro-hybrids cars is getting more sophisticated, we observe two pervasive trends: carmakers keep searching for the optimal battery chemistry to back the unique and surging demands of the stop-start system, and global automotive OEMs, currently focused on China as the next key market and view this Asian country as a number one partner in the global stop-start industry.
The Promise of Micro-Hybrids
Micro-hybrid cars appear to be traditional gasoline or diesel-powered vetches with automatic battery-powered stop-start systems, shutting off the engine, when the car is at rest, such as at a red light, and then restart it instantly upon engaging the gas pedal. In spite of the fact, integrated stop-start systems do not provide any hybridization of the drive-train, the overall technology is enjoying surging popularity due to the fact that it provides fuel efficiency improvement for the lowest cost on either a dollars per grams of CO2 reduction basis. Another option is a dollars per MPG improvement basis. Considering prices as low as $300 per system, the technology appears to be one of the most cost effective ways of enhancing fuel efficiency. Up-to-date micro-hybrid technology is capable of improving fuel economy by 5 to 10%, while future systems might achieve savings as high as 15%. When widely adopted, the given technology can greatly minimize fuel consumption as well as air pollution from idling cars.
Micro-hybrids are currently gaining traction in China. While today there’re approximately 200,000 cars sold in this Asian country every year, which come with automatic stop-start systems, there’s an enormous potential in this market niche. With light-fast technology, strict emissions standards, micro-hybrid adoption in China could rapidly eclipse that tendency in the EU.
Until very recently, a great number of consumers weren’t familiar with the type of cars defined as micro-hybrid. Even though leading research companies such as Lux Research have been foreseeing the vast proliferation of micro-hybrid vehicles for years, the most recent research actually predicts that there will be up to 39 million on the road by 2017.