VIDEO: BMW EfficientDynamics Auto Start/Stop System

More and more cars getting put onto our roads every year, and I’m not just talking about Kuala Lumpur where the jams while bad aren’t as insane as the gridlocks you get in some larger cities around the world. With so much time being spent in traffic jams not moving, fuel burned while idling in the jam is doing nothing but powering your air conditioning, lights and perhaps your radio, which is a little overkill and definitely a waste of fuel.

Magneti Marelli CEO Eugenio Razelli thinks that this wastage of fuel should seriously stop and we tend to agree. According to him, automatic start/stop systems should become mandatory equipment on all cars, much like catalytic converters have become a long time ago. According to him, substantial fuel savings can be achieved through the use of auto start/stop systems at a relatively low cost. We did some googling and found that replacing the starter with one capable of auto start/stop can add only about US$300 (RM960) to US$400 (RM1,285) to a car’s material cost but can save between 5% to 15% of fuel depending on conditions.

But then again it’s expected for him to say this considering Magneti Marelli develops and sells auto components such as auto start/stop systems and if first world countries with huge annual auto sales start to make auto start/stop systems mandatory, it would be a huge boost to all auto component suppliers which sell such systems, including Magneti Marelli. Valeo and Bosch are other example manufacturer of auto start/stop systems. Razelli is not alone with his idea though – car manufacturers such as PSA Peugeot Citroen have announced that it plans to make auto start/stop systems standard for all of their cars sold in the European market.

Cars with auto start/stop systems are sometimes called “micro hybrids” but they still run on conventional fuel – there is no other propulsion method. Auto start/stop systems was first introduced with manual transmissions but there are a few manufacturers who have managed to integrate the system with their automatic transmission cars as well.

The system has also been refined over time and auto start/stop systems can be considered to be in a sort of ‘second generation’ right now. At first the starting and stopping of the engine made use of a specialized quick starter, but now the restarting of the engine has been refined to the point that the system knows exactly which piston is in the best position to be used to restart the engine, further refining the smoothness and quickness of the restart process. Earlier auto start/stop systems also couldn’t run the air conditioning system when the engine is switched off but now on cars with auto start/stop, the air conditioning system is modified to run on electricity instead of off the engine’s belt.

Systems such as Mazda’s Smart Idle Stop System doesn’t even use a specialised starter, instead it restarts the engine by injecting fuel via direct injection into the cylinder and igniting it to force the piston down instead of using a conventional starter.