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Affordable start-stop system for ultra-compact cars

July 08, 2010 | Christoph Hammerschmidt | 222900938
Affordable start-stop system for ultra-compact cars Automotive electronics supplier Continental AG has developed a control unit for the lower price segment in particular in emerging markets. According to the vendor, the control unit makes it possible for vehicle manufacturers to offer models in the ultra-compact category with an automatic start-stop system within short development time.

When the vehicle is at a standstill, for example in a traffic jam or at traffic lights, the engine is automatically switched off and then restarted within a few fractions of a second when the driver wants to move off again. As a result, Continental expects everyday fuel consumption in major cities to be reduced by as much as 15 percent.

The heart of the components from Continental is the new engine start-stop (ESS) control unit which groups together the relevant functions. It is based on the Basic Function Controller presented in May 2008, and makes it possible to switch off the engine automatically even in cars that do not have elaborate engine control units or data networks. To do this, all that is needed is the start-stop control unit itself, an intelligent battery sensor (IBS) as well as a signal from the clutch and gearbox to ensure that the engine is only switched off when idling and is restarted in just a few fractions of a second when the clutch pedal is pressed. For vehicles with convenience electronics that draw power, Continental also offers a DC/DC converter in order to balancing voltage dips from occurring when the engine is started: infotainment systems such as the radio, satellite navigation or instrumentation can therefore continue to operate without disruptions.

Since all relevant functions are combined in a single control unit, there is no need to modify the engine ECU or gearbox ECU. This reduces complexity and significantly reduces development time, Continental claims.

Despite the fact that the new ESS control unit can be adapted to different vehicle models at short notice, and has been designed above all for use in cars in the lower price segments, the driver will not notice any difference between it and comparable systems in higher category models: the levels of comfort, functional reliability and the potential for fuel savings are identical. Therefore, the engine start-stop control unit from Continental is not designed for use in emerging markets only – Continental believes it could suit as well compact cars or low-cost, large volume models from vehicle manufacturers in Europe and the USA.

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