[RenewableEnergyAccess.com] While the popularity of hybrid-electric vehicles keeps growing, automakers continue their search for less-expensive alternatives such as belt-alternator starter (BAS) technology, according to new research from market intelligence firm, ABI Research. BAS systems are a dream technology for some automakers. The devices allow for start-stop operation similar to hybrids, where the engine can be shut off at a stoplight or when idling, but at a price premium of just a few hundred dollars instead of the thousands required for hybrids. In fairness to these more expensive hybrid-electrics, a major component of their fuel efficiency comes from their regenerative braking systems, which add considerable cost to the vehicle. ABI Research senior analyst, Dan Benjamin while a BAS system is less-expensive than a true hybrid, it doesn’t come close to matching the full functionality of a hybrid as a BAS doesn’t provide any sort of assist in actually propelling the vehicle, and will often have far less capability for regenerative braking. For the consumer, this means that any improvement in fuel economy will be negligible under any driving conditions, with the exception of extended stop-and-go driving or idling. It also means that there will be no performance boost, a trait currently associated with several existing and upcoming hybrids. It should prove useful only in urban markets. ABI Research’s new study, “Hybrid Electric Vehicles” examines the hybrid vehicle’s production potential for all major OEMs, as well as the technological and supply choices that can be made for platform development. Forecasts are provided through 2012.