PARIS - Citroen calls it Dynalto. BMW calls it CSG, for crankshaft start generator.
Both are integrated starter-alternators developed by Continental Tire in its effort to diversify into new areas of automotive supply.
These new devices, which replace the current alternators and starters with a single component, are not yet ready for the road.
'We think such a system can equip BMW cars after 2000,' said Alfred Kraal, head of CSG development at BMW.
Citroen is on a similar schedule, aiming to sell integrated starter-alternators by 2000-02.
'The Dynalto system will appear gradually on new models, because it implies major modifications with the engine architecture,' said Jean-Emmanuel Guy, Dynalto project manager for Citroen. 'It can apply to any engine capacity. It's also consistent with the direct injection technology.'
Both companies showed the system at the Geneva auto show. The BMW prototype was mounted on a six-cylinder engine. Citroen showed a four-cylinder, 1.6-liter, 90hp engine. Honda is developing a similar device, according to Guy.
The starter-alternator replaces the flywheel of a conventional engine. It is located between the engine and the transmission. Equipped with an electronic management system, it boosts engine power and supplies multi-voltage electric energy at levels far beyond present systems.
According to BMW, the system can provide as much electric current as three conventional alternators while the car moves. Citroen says the Dynalto produces twice the output of the biggest existing belt-driven systems.
The companies claim the system allows 20 percent fuel savings, under normal driving conditions.
Starts engines in one-tenth of a second instead of up to three seconds with conventional starters
Prevents stalling by providing extra torque at low engine speeds
Boosts the engine when sudden acceleration is required
Shuts down the engine when the car stops for more than two seconds. To start again the driver just shifts in gear and accelerates normally
Allows the engine to work more smoothly.