Battery Power - January/February 2013 - (Page 9)

Nearing the Promise of the Micro-Hybrid Vehicles: Technology Improvements and New Markets Salil Soman, Director of Systems Engineering PowerGenix Until very recently, many consumers were unfamiliar with the type of vehicle defined as micro-hybrid. Even though leading research firms such as Lux Research have been predicting the vast proliferation of micro-hybrids for years; the most recent study predicts that there will be 39 million on the road by 2017. Outside of Europe, the technology has remained in the shadows of flashier electric vehicles (EVs) and more popular and ubiquitous hybrid vehicles such as the Toyota Prius. Today, however, the tide is beginning to change. Major automakers such as BMW, Ford, Volkswagen and Kia will all begin offering stop-start technology, a defining characteristic of microhybrids, in their latest models in North America for as little as $300 extra. Internationally, micro-hybrids are already common in Europe and rapidly catching on in China. As the technology for micro-hybrids systems becomes more sophisticated, we see two pervasive trends: automakers are continuing to search for the optimal battery chemistry to support the unique and increasing demands of the stop-start system, and global automotive OEMs increasingly have their sights set on China as the next major market and view the country as a strategic partner in the global stop-start industry. The US has seen slower adoption of stop-start technology due to less stringent emissions regulations and lower gas prices compared with Europe. In a stance that has further stunted stop-start’s proliferation in the US, the Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that the technology won’t achieve its promised fuel savings due to US driving patterns, which tend to be less stop-and-go centric than those in Europe. However, as gas prices continue to climb, consumers in the US are increasingly interested in seizing the low hanging fruit of fuel efficiency. Likewise, automakers such as Ford and BMW have already demonstrated their belief in American consumers’ interest in the promised fuel savings. Micro-hybrids are also starting to gain traction in China. While today there are only roughly 200,000 vehicles sold in China each year that carry automatic stop-start systems, there is enormous potential in this market. With strict emissions standards, lightning-fast technology adoption and a recent government priority shift from EVs toward safer and economical nearterm CO2 abatement solutions, China’s micro-hybrid adoption could quickly eclipse that of Europe. The stop-start technology itself is advancing as well. Second generation stop-start vehicles are becoming commonplace in Europe. While first generation technology relied on just a simple stop-start system for the engine, second generation systems incorporate features such as energy recuperation. As third generation systems begin to emerge, we’ll see implementation of more advanced concepts such as shutting off the engine during coasting (not just when stopped), as well as some mild levels of electric boost during acceleration. All of these features will impose even greater loads, and require enhanced performance capabilities from the batteries. To date, the main challenge to the widespread implementation and adoption of such next-generation micro-hybrid features, at an acceptable cost, has been the performance limitations of current battery technologies. Nickel Zinc (NiZn) offers several advantages over existing technologies, and is a real single source energy storage system that is perfectly suited to meet both the technical and cost challenges of advanced micro-hybrids. The current reigning battery chemistry is lead-acid, which automakers grudgingly use while acknowledging its shortfalls for the needs of micro-hybrids. Compared with lead-acid, NiZn chemistry can offer up to 65 percent weight reduction and twice the service life, resulting in further improvement in fuel consumption. Furthermore, MPG gains resulting from use of lead acid batteries in stop-start systems decrease gradually to as low as 2 percent within one year of use, vastly due to loss in PowerGenix Article Continued on Page 10 Micro-hybrid vehicles are traditional gasoline or diesel-powered cars with automatic battery-powered stop-start systems that shut off the engine while the vehicle is at rest, such as at a red light, and restart it instantly and automatically upon engaging the gas pedal. Although integrated stop-start systems don’t offer any hybridization of the drive-train, the technology is increasing in popularity because it offers maximum fuel efficiency improvement for the lowest cost on either a dollars per grams of CO2 reduction basis, or dollars per MPG improvement basis. At prices as low as $300 per system, the technology is one of the most cost effective ways of improving fuel efficiency. Current micro-hybrid technology can improve fuel economy by 5 to 10 percent, while future systems may achieve savings as high as 15 percent. If widely adopted, the technology can substantially reduce fuel consumption and air pollution from idling vehicles. Micro-hybrids have already achieved widespread adoption in Europe. Today, more than 40 percent of cars in Europe have stop-start technology, according to the AAA. By 2015, battery maker Johnson Controls predicts that automatic start-stop systems will be standard in 70 percent of all vehicles sold in Europe. With aggressive emissions regulations and high gas prices, Europe has been a fertile market for stop-start technology thus far. Many vehicles in Europe today are already sold with start-stop functionality as a standard feature. The Promise of Micro-Hybrids Battery Chemistries for Micro-Hybrids January/February 2013 • Battery Power 9

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Battery Power - January/February 2013

Battery Power - January/February 2013
Table of Contents
Editor's Choice
GM, ABB Demonstrate Chevrolet Volt Battery Reuse Unit
Testing Requirements in the Electric Vehicle Industry
Nearing the Promise of the Micro-Hybrid Vehicles: Technology Improvements and New Markets
So You’ve Been Placed on Notice... Now What?
Advanced Numerical Simulation for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles
High-Voltage Battery Simulator and Test Systems Critical for Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Development
Key Elements to Assuring a Well Developed Verification Plan for Your Battery Powered Device
New Products
ICs & Semiconductors
Industry News
Calendar of Events

Battery Power - January/February 2013