The rich get richer, and the frugal get ... frugaler. The Smart fortwo coming to these shores will reportedly boast a feature like the automatic start/stop technology on BMW's 1-series. A fixture on pure hybrids like the Honda Insight for years, the Smart system will shut down the combustion engine when the car is stopped in traffic and start it again when the driver presses the accelerator. The development is said to have been derived from the diesel hybrid Smart engineered for the first generation car.
The start/stop Smart will have a 1.0-liter engine with 71 hp and a 5-speed sequential gearbox. According to one article, it's called the "micro hybrid," and was created by Smart engineers working with Mercedes-Benz Development (BMW's unit is provided by Bosch). A belt-driven starter generator acts as the starter motor and alternator. The starter generator also reduces the time necessary for the engine to get enough revs to engage the clutch by .25 seconds. By quickening clutch engagement time less fuel is needed to drive away from a standing start. Combined with shutting down during normal idling periods, the result is an impressive 13% less gasoline usage.
[Source: Autoweek.nl via Motor Authority]