Germany-based automotive supplier Hella has developed start-stop technology that can shut down an engine at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour if using all that torque is deemed unnecessary. This added benefit could increase fuel economy savings up to 10 percent over traditional stop-start systems that shut down the engine when the car is stopped, Martin Fischer, president of Hella Electronics, said at the recent Society of Automotive Engineers Convergence conference.

To keep things safe, steering and braking, which are both powered by the engine, will have a backup battery to make sure that if one battery fails, the other will kick in. This twin-battery can be programmed to maintain temperature inside the car after engine shutdown. Customers will be able to choose a low-powered lithium-ion battery pack or double-layer capacitors for the backup battery.

This will likely be the first time traditional internal combustion engines will have this capacity. There have been hybrids, like the Porsche Cayenne hybrid crossover utility vehicle, that can coast thanks to stop-start systems that can shut off the engine while moving to reduce fuel consumption. Hella developed its systems for partial hybrids and vehicles with traditional internal combustion engines.

First-generation stop-start systems are starting to find their way into mass-production vehicles, such as the 2013 Ford Fusion. Hella has been working on bringing this technology to market for a few years now.

Hella says the technology is coming, which makes the real question of commercial availability whether consumers will embrace it, Fischer said, and whether drivers will accept their car shutting down. Right now, start-stop kills the engine at red lights (something BMW has found not everyone likes). If this first generation becomes widely accepted, Fischer expects the second-generation at-speed start-stop to go into production in three-to-five years.

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