DETROIT – Hyundai Motor Co. Ltd. will offer stop-start technology on its U.S. models, the auto maker’s top U.S. sales executive tells Ward’s.

“It’s in our technology-cycle plan going forward,” John Krafcik, CEO of Hyundai Motor America, says in an interview at the North American International Auto Show here.

Krafcik, who says he can’t be specific on which vehicle first will get the technology, told Ward’s last summer the auto maker was considering introducing stop-start here, which also is referred to as “microhybrid” technology.

“Our approach (with stop-start) is the same (as it was with electronic-stability control),” Krafcik says. “As scales of economies come, and we see a way to do it in an affordable way that’s consistent with the brand, we go ahead and embrace that technology.”

Stop-start works by shutting off a vehicle’s gasoline engine at idle. It differs from a full-hybrid system, where the engine automatically switches off at low speeds and the electric motor can be used exclusively as a power source.

HMA plans to retail a full-hybrid version of its next-generation Sonata midsize sedan.

While some auto makers have balked at stop-start, believing the level of investment in the technology is too high relative to the gains achieved in fuel economy, Krafcik disagrees.

“Roughly speaking, 20%-30% of (a full) hybrid(’s) benefit comes strictly from stop-start technology,” he says.

Krafcik says Hyundai Motor America also has the added benefit of the global reach of its parent, Hyundai Motor Co. Ltd. – now the fifth-largest auto maker in the world – which offers stop-start in some overseas markets.

Europe has been the primary market for microhybrids, where BMW AG uses the technology in its 1-Series and 3-Series and Mini Cooper range. The auto maker has not made stop-start available in the U.S.

A stop-start system featured on Volvo Car’s S60 concept shown at the show here is planned for the production version of the vehicle, a spokesman at the auto maker confirms to Ward’s.

Meanwhile, Krafcik says Hyundai’s plan to bring its S-diesel engine from overseas to the U.S. in the Veracruz cross/utility vehicle is dead. “(The) S-diesel is off the table for right now.”

The high price of diesel fuel compared with regular unleaded gasoline had little to do with the decision, he says.

Prohibitive factors included the cost of incorporating the technology and ensuring the engine met U.S. emissions standards, as well as the large price premium Hyundai would have to place on a diesel Veracruz to make a profit.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com