Idle-Free Systems





While we have a long way to go when idling vehicles will cease to be, these are pretty exciting times. In the last five to 10 years, idle-free technologies have emerged. Most of these have taken hold and become an essential part of a more efficient transportation network - in commercial sectors and at large. Fleet operators rely extensively on telematics software and more and more are embracing idle management systems. For many years, the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid were the only gas-electric hybrids offered. Now there are many models available, along with a growing number of the plug-in variety. And on both ends of the idle-free spectrum, there are emerging systems and technologies from stop-start micro-hybrids to pure electric vehicles.



Stop-start technology (also known as start-stop) is a lower-cost alternative to full hybrid technology that helps increase fuel economy by about 5% and lessen emissions by automatically shutting off the engine (eliminating idling) when a vehicle comes to a stop, such as at stoplights and stop-and-go traffic. The engine automatically restarts when the driver takes his or her foot off the brake. During engine shutoff, an auxiliary 12-volt battery powers electric accessories such as heating and air conditioning, power windows and radio.


Stop start is common in European and Asian countries, where fuel prices are significantly higher than in the U.S. For 2017, stop-start is offered in a growing number of American vehicles. GM: Cadillac ATS, CTS and XTS, Chevrolet Impala, Cruze, Malibu, Siverado and Sierra, Buick LaCrosse and Regal, and GMC Acadia; GM will offer it on almost all its models by 2020. Ford: Escape, Focus and Edge, F-150 and Fusion. Fiat Chrysler: Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk and Pacifica. Dodge: Ram 1500 HFE. Many models are available among German brands including most Mercedes and BMW models, and Volvos. Stop-start is rare among Japanese brands. One negative feature of stop-start is it can be disengaged at the push of a button. Some drivers do not like how it performs at stop lights and stop-and-go driving. Basically, it is a matter of getting used to the feel of it. Still, stop-start is expected to be offered in the majority of internal combustion engine vehicles by 2020.


To learn more about stop-start, watch video from Johnson Controls, a manufacturer of this system.

Hybrids & Plug-In Hybrids


Gas electric hybrids have steadily grown since the late 1990s, mostly as a viable economic alternative to standard internal combustion engined vehicles, and secondarily as a greener alternative. The more recent addition of plug-in hybrids have offered even better fuel mileage, some allowing short trips gasoline-free. There are several versions of hybrids: Parallel, Series, and Plug-in. There are also hybrids within these, such as Mild and Muscle. These variations are fully explained within the HybridCars website.


Running the gamet of hybrids, the most mild version is for example, the Buick LaCrosse with eAssist, running in gasoline mode but with an assist at times by a small electric battery. Then there's the middle of the road variety (sorry for the pun) which is the parallel version, for example most Toyota Priuses in which the gas and electric motors run individually or in tandem. Further up the scale are range extended electrics, such as the Chevrolet Volt or BMW i3. These plug-in vehicles are generally twice as efficient as standard hybrids, depending on how they are operated.