The commuter-bike segment is certainly the most competitive playground in the Indian two-wheeler industry. Manufacturers not only have to offer value for money products in this segment but also have to deal with conservative customers. But every two-wheeler manufacturer has always focused on one thing in this segment i.e. fuel efficiency. This is because the Indian customer and market in general, have always stayed quite sensitive to this topic.
Hence the world’s largest two-wheeler maker, Hero MotoCorp, has always kept providing more and more fuel efficiency at the heart of its R&D centres. This has led to the evolution of its engines and has given an extension to a technology it calls, the “i3s”, which stands for Idle Stop-Start System. Hero MotorCorp now offers this technology with all the bikes in the Splendor range.
The engine start/stop technology was first developed by the Japanese automaker, Toyota in 1964. While testing the technology, it showed that the fuel efficiency of a vehicle can be improved by almost 10% with i3s technology. Hence, Hero MotoCrop realized its importance under Indian traffic conditions and integrated the same technology with its engines. The technology was offered for the first time with its bikes in the year 2013. As the manufacturer knew it was a game-changer, the first bikes to offer it was the Splendor iSmart and the new Passion Pro, both being commuter-segment motorcycles.
As the i3s technology is geared towards providing more mileage, hence it automatically switches off the engine when not needed. It turns off the engine after waiting for precisely about 60 seconds and then restarts the engine automatically as soon as the clutch is fully pressed. So when the rider wants to go, the engine starts by simply pressing the clutch again. This saves time and effort in starting the engine manually. This, in turn, prevents the engine from gulping in more fuel while at idle.
Thus, it improves the mileage of the engine under stop and go traffic conditions. Such a mechanism is most apt for scenarios in which you have to wait at a stoplight or when the bike comes to a halt under heavy city traffic conditions. The technology is indeed smart as it solves two major problems while standing at a stoplight, the engine noise/vibrations, as well as fuel consumption by the engine at idle.
If you speak of the technicality, the system uses a battery, electric generator, Electronic Control Unit (ECU) and a speed sensor. When the speed hits 0 Kmph the speed sensor sends the signal to ECU which starts the 1-minute timer. After a minute gets over the ECU shuts down the engine. Once the clutch is fully pressed the ECU uses the energy generated by the regenerative braking to start the engine again.
Here are some of the advantages of i3s technology:
But there are certain disadvantages as well:
The i3s technology in the Splendor iSmart is certainly a boon for its sales as it has helped it clock over 3 lakh units since it was launched. This shows the extent of the sensitivity towards the fuel efficiency of the Indian crowd. Also, no other rival offers the same technology in the same price range which again helps the Splendor tonk up its sales.
However, even though the technology is beneficial the upfront cost charged by a manufacturer can erode the benefits of it. Till now such technology has certainly proved to be beneficial for automakers and hence Hero MotoCorp plans to execute the i3s technology to its other range of bikes as well. For an average user, it brings convenience as well as savings in terms of fuel costs making it very practical technology for everyday use.