PARIS—Vehicle alternator manufacturer Valeo has a star on its hands, and it hasn't even begun production.
The company's new generation of alternator is called "STARS," short for "starter alternator reversible system." Production will begin in the first half of 2002 at Valeo's Etaples plant in northern France.
The breakthrough device replaces a traditional starter with an alternator managed by an electronic converter.
PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, Opel and Volkswagen are expected to be the first auto makers to use the system. Its main advantage is in stop-and-go situations: When the car stops, the engine stops.
As a result, gasoline consumption is reduced by 4 to 5 percent on an MVEG cycle—a mixture of urban, road and highway traffic—and from 5 percent up to 10 percent on an urban cycle.
The system reduces noise through silent cranking and provides an additional acoustic comfort at standstill. It also provides extra room under the hood, because two machines are replaced by one.
For now, STARS is designed to ensure cold starts for gasoline engines under 1.5-liter displacement and for 1.0-liter diesel engines.
STARS currently is $52 more expensive than a traditional alternator and starter—mainly because of the cost of electronics. But the company believes the extra cost can be reduced within three to four years.