Drivers of gasoline powered cars from Ford will have to consult their instrument panel to make sure their engines are running. Starting in the 2012 model year Ford will offer Auto Start-Stop technology to their customers who buy non-hybrid cars in North America, according to an article at PCMag and at TheCarConnection.
A light on the dash will alert drivers that the engine is off while the tachometer will move into a green zone since engine revs will be non-existent. Ford’s vice president for powertrain engineering vouched for the smooth transition from stop to start to go by stating that “most drivers won’t even notice it is there.”
As this report pointed out there are 170,000 Ford hybrid vehicles using this technology and its use in Europe is widespread, but when the Focus comes out in 2012 with the promised seamless start, it will mark a bit of a sea change from what North American drivers have always experienced.
Gone will be the days of listening for the starter motor to engage the flywheel and using the absence of that sound as an indication of a failed starter. The new technology restarts the engine the moment the driver’s foot leaves the brake pedal as is said to be “quiet and seamless.”
But wait a minute, didn’t your father tell you that repeatedly starting your car for no reason would wear the starter out? Ford has that base covered with a beefed-up starter motor and a battery that they think is up to the task. Speaking of your old man, didn’t he warn you not to let the car idle too long even in the winter when you needed the heater for warmth? Ford has this one covered too with an electric pump that circulates coolant to heat the cabin.
Okay, all this change can be a bit much, so is it just for the sake of change? Not really. Estimates are that Auto Start-Stop technology is worth anywhere from 4 to 10 percent in improved fuel economy and tailpipe emissions are (guess what?) zero while stopped.
So starting your car once when you start out may become as obsolete as consulting a road map or using a phone booth.