Forecasters see 2010 as the big year for Europe's manufacturers of stop-start systems, which turn the engine off when a vehicle stops and restarts it when the driver's foot leaves the brake.
An estimated 2.8 million vehicles with stop-start will be made globally that year. About 2.5 million of those vehicles will be made in Europe and the rest in Asia, according to consultancy IHS Global Insight. That's up dramatically from last year, when about 54,000 stop-stop-equipped vehicles were made, an estimated 53,350 in Europe.
Stop-start maker Valeo SA is looking forward to the surge because it does not make a profit on the system at current volumes. "Today we manufacture 1,000 a month, so it doesn't make sense. But we knew that," Valeo CEO Thierry Morin told Automotive News Europe earlier this year. "It will be a profitable business by 2011, when we have the volumes, in particular from PSA."
The French supplier has a contract with PSA/Peugeot-Citroen to equip more than 1 million vehicles with a stop-start system by 2011. Valeo says the contract is worth 700 million euros, or $897.4 million at current exchange rates. Valeo now supplies stop-start for Citroen, Mercedes, and Smart vehicles.
Valeo's top stop-start rival is Robert Bosch GmbH, which supplies its system for BMW and Mini vehicles. Bosch, the world's largest supplier, anticipates that by 2012 half of all new cars sold in western Europe will have stop-start.
|Predicted global production of cars equipped with stop-start in 2010|
(Source: IHS Global Insight)
North America: 2011
IHS Global Insight forecasts a 2011 launch for stop-start in North America.
The driving force behind the planned surge in stop-start demand in Europe is tougher regulations on vehicle emissions that are due in 2012.
Bernd Bohr, head of Bosch's automotive division, says that development of stop-start "is picking up much faster than it would have without the current CO2 discussion."
The European Commission wants automakers to reduce carbon dioxide emissions 17.7 percent to 130 grams per kilometer by 2012 from 158 grams per kilometer last year. For gasoline-powered vehicles, that equates to cutting CO2 to 7.4 ounces per mile from 9 ounces per mile. Makers of tires, air conditioners, and alternative fuels would be responsible for another 10 grams per kilometer reduction.
Depending on the model and driving conditions, the average CO2 reduction offered by stop-start is 8 to 15 percent. That kind of fuel savings is attractive to customers. About a quarter of the participants in a recent Harris Interactive survey said they were "very or extremely likely" to purchase stop-start in their next vehicle.
Between May and June, Harris surveyed 19,933 people in the five major markets in Europe: Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
Stop-start is not new. In the early 1980s, versions of the Volkswagen Golf and Fiat Ritmo had stop-start. The technology was dropped because it hurt performance and did not provide enough fuel savings to compensate for its high price. New stop-start systems operate smoothly and are standard on many models offered in Europe.
"It is a minimal requirement in the CO2 reduction battle because it is simple and not expensive," said Paul Nieuwenhuis, director of the Centre for Automotive Industry Research at Cardiff University in Wales.
Andrew Close, a senior technical research analyst at IHS Global Insight's London office, said simple versions of stop-start cost an automaker $64 to $320. He said systems that include brake regeneration cost about $447.
Bosch and Valeo are the two top suppliers of stop-start systems. Global Insight predicts they will remain on top despite competition from Continental AG, Delphi Corp. and Denso Corp.
To further reduce CO2 in future models, stop-start will be combined with fuel-saving tweaks such as better aerodynamics, longer gear ratios, and low-rolling-resistance tires. The result can be substantial. Without stop-start, the BlueMotion version of the Volkswagen Golf emits 119 grams per kilometer of CO2. VW uses the BlueMotion label for versions that have the lowest CO2 in a model line.
When it debuts in 2009, the second-generation BlueMotion Golf, with start-stop, is expected to emit only 99 grams per kilometer of CO2. If it can reach that target, the Golf's CO2 emissions will be below those of the Toyota Prius, which emits 104g/km.