Could Belt-Alternator-Starters Steal Hybrid's Thunder?

The devices allow for start-stop operation similar to hybrids, where the engine can be shut off at a stoplight or when idling, but at a price premium of just a few hundred dollars instead of the thousands required for hybrids.

Oyster Bay, NY - February 15, 2005 - While the popularity of hybrid-electric vehicles keeps growing, automakers continue their search for less-expensive alternatives such as belt-alternator starter (BAS) technology, according to new research from market intelligence firm, ABI Research.


BAS systems are a dream technology for some automakers. The devices allow for start-stop operation similar to hybrids, where the engine can be shut off at a stoplight or when idling, but at a price premium of just a few hundred dollars instead of the thousands required for hybrids. However, ABI Research cautions both consumers and financial observers that, "you get what you pay for."

"While a BAS system is less-expensive than a true hybrid, it doesn't come close to matching the full functionality of a hybrid," says ABI Research senior analyst, Dan Benjamin. "A BAS doesn't provide any sort of assist in actually propelling the vehicle, and will often have far less capability for regenerative braking, if any."

For the consumer, this means that any improvement in fuel economy will be negligible under any driving conditions, with the exception of extended stop-and-go driving or idling. It also means that there will be no performance boost, a trait currently associated with several existing and upcoming hybrids. It should prove useful only in urban markets.

For suppliers and investors, the trend towards this technology could be more troubling. Suppliers for components such as electric motors and high-voltage batteries are increasing capacity in preparation for rising hybrid vehicle production. Yet automakers, including General Motors and PSA Peugeot Citroen, have already announced plans to deploy BAS technology. If BAS systems take market share from true hybrids, the new capacity could go unutilized.

ABI Research's new study, "Hybrid Electric Vehicles" examines the hybrid vehicle's production potential for all major OEMs, as well as the technological and supply choices that can be made for platform development. Forecasts are provided through 2012.

Founded in 1990 and headquartered in New York, ABI Research maintains global operations that support annual research programs, intelligence services and market reports in wireless, automotive, semiconductors, broadband, and energy. For more information please visit www.abiresearch.com, or call 516.624.2500.

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