Improving vehicle fuel economy has taken on a new urgency in the US and elsewhere. Between 2012 and 2016, U.S. automakers will be required to increase average fuel economy by 25 percent or pay major penalties per vehicle in their fleet – $5.50 per 0.1 mpg per vehicle under the stringent standards. Similar or tougher standards are being implemented in Europe and Asia.
Micro-hybrids – conventional cars with automatic start-stop technology – are the simplest automotive hybrid system and one of the most cost-effective ways to improve fuel economy and reduce automotive carbon emissions. In a micro-hybrid, the engine shuts off when the vehicle is stopped, providing a 5 to 8 percent improvement in overall fuel economy (even higher in city-only driving) at a cost under $500 per vehicle. Micro-hybrid technology will be deployed as standard equipment in millions of vehicles in Europe, Asia and North America over the next several years.
A lighter, more powerful replacement for lead-acid
Although lead-acid batteries can address a portion of the micro-hybrid market, their limited charge acceptance and short service life restrict their effectiveness in a start/stop operation. PowerGenix rechargeable Nickel-Zinc (NiZn) batteries offer micro-hybrids significant performance improvements by overcoming the cycle and calendar life limitations of lead-acid cells. As demonstrated in the illustration below, replacing a lead-acid battery with NiZn results in up to 70 percent reduced battery weight and size, further increasing vehicle fuel efficiency.