In the hierarchy of vehicle pricing, though, it can be difficult sometimes to justify spending more up front for better technology, even if it’ll save you money at the pump. Given a choice over a conventional vehicle, you could go for hybrid vehicle and pay a few thousand more, or go for an electric vehicle and pay many thousands more. On the other hand, you could go electric vehicle for only a few thousand more, but you’d sacrifice a lot in range and power next to a comparable hybrid vehicle.
Micro- or Light-Hybrid vehicles, also known as Start-Stop Technology [SST] could be the next best thing. One of the selling points of hybrid vehicles is that they don’t run the engine at a stop, which is a waste of fuel when you aren’t going anywhere. The problem with most hybrid vehicles is price, since the electric motors and battery packs tend to cost up to $10,000. SST light-hybrid vehicles are a little bit different, but they could save thousands compared to a typical hybrid.
First of all, because the battery on an SST light-hybrid vehicle is smaller, just 60V and a couple kWh capacity, it isn’t nearly as expensive, just $500 in some cases. Operation is seamless, shutting down the engine when decelerating and coming to a stop, then restarting the engine when you let off the brake. While the engine is stopped, the battery supplies power needed to run air conditioning, radio, lights, etc.
Johnson Controls’ MaryAnn Wright, vice president of technology and innovation, says that SST is the next logical step to expand the adoption of hybrid vehicle technology. Depending on who you talk to, SST light-hybrid vehicle advocates say drivers can realize a 5%-20% boost in fuel economy, without sacrificing performance, range, or your wallet.