Paris, France – A new start-stop system to replace conventional alternators in mass production is under development in Europe, under the EUREKA European Union research and development network.

This second-generation starter alternator reversible system (StARS) is a compact, fully integrated and low-cost system intended to enable the European automotive industry to meet new EU emissions legislation and significantly reduce fuel consumption, without needing to redesign the engine. It is also expected to fulfill global demands for more energy-efficient vehicles, with market forecasts indicating that some one million vehicles per year will use these systems by 2010, with a four per cent penetration rate worldwide in the automotive market for such micro-hybrid applications in 2015.

“Not only will it be possible to reduce consumption emissions without any major change to engine design, but this translates into a six per cent saving in fuel use for the car driver,” said Derek de Bono, marketing director of Valeo Electrical Systems in France, which supplies components and integrated systems for cars and trucks.

Valeo developed a first generation of alternator-based stop-start systems, which has been in serial production with Citroën since 2004, on Smart cars since 2007, and on Mercedes-Benz A- and B-Class models as of the first quarter of 2009. The belt-driven system shuts down the engine during idle and restarts it quickly and silently. In the European standard driving cycle, fuel consumption is reduced by six per cent, while savings of up to 25 per cent have been observed in congested city traffic.

However, Valeo is working on reducing the size of this micro-hybrid system to a single integrated package, combining the alternator and all power and control electronics required. In the current design, the electronics need a separate box. As it has no in-house microelectronics capacity, the company set up a EUREKA project with ON Semiconductors in Belgium, and Freescale in France. Labelling under the EUREKA banner provides credibility at a national and European level and enables the company to get the technology to market faster, de Bono said.

The Peugeot-Citroën Group has already announced that it will adopt the new second-generation technology on over a million cars a year, as of 2010-2011. De Bono said that Valeo is talking to all other carmakers in Europe, and that there is interest in Asia, particularly China, and the U.S., which needs to meet new fuel efficiency standards committed to in 2007.

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