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Start Stop Technology Likely Coming To Your Next Car

2012 Ford Fusion Hybrid

2012 Ford Fusion Hybrid

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Most of us who grew up driving four-cylinder, carbureted economy cars are familiar with start-stop technology. Thirty years ago, it wasn’t a selling point, but rather the byproduct of carbureted engines attempting to meet ever-stricter emission requirements. The result was a car likely to stall under even moderate loads (the air conditioning compressor, for example) at traffic lights. If you lived at elevations above sea level, the problem got worse. Back then, we cursed cars that stalled at traffic signals--and had to coax them back to life before the light turned green. And they arguably might have been saving a little fuel (but probably not).

Today, start-stop is a legitimate feature that both certainly does save gas and reduces tailpipe emissions.

In 2010, only eight percent of new cars (such as Toyota's Prius, or Ford's Fusion Hybrid) had start-stop technology, which shuts down the engine when the vehicles comes to a rest for more than a few seconds. Depressing the accelerator will instantly restart the car, and systems such as climate control, headlights and audio remain operational while the engine is turned off. The whole thing is almost seamless to drivers, who may not even notice that their car’s engine has stopped running. The feature can reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 12 percent, depending upon how much time is spent in city driving.

Johnson Controls, a leading supplier of start-stop system components, estimates that up to 55 percent of new cars will employ this technology by 2016. That’s a global number, but the percentage is even higher for the European market, where 70 percent of new vehicles sold in 2015 are expected to be fitted with start stop systems.

[Reuters, via Green Car Reports]

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Comments (4)
  1. Kurt, you are so right! Stop-Start was a great idea in Europe long ago, but became feasible only when reliable fuel-injection and electronic ignition systems became common and cheap enough. Many of today's engines are so quiet that the driver won't notice it. The hybrids prove the point already.

  2. Carl, I'll admit to being skeptical before I began driving cars with start-stop technology, but it's mature enough that I'm fully on board with it. It was disconcerting the first time a car shut off on me at a traffic light, though. I had flashbacks to a certain 1985 Subaru GL Wagon that inadvertently came with start-stop...

  3. I was at Consumers Union when we declared the Plymouth Volare (MT Car of the Year) as a better car than the Ford/GM rivals. I had a company car but bought a Volare for Mrs T. It was like your Subaru. Next year CU had to confess that the Xler twins were the most recalled cars EVAH! Rust buckets, too!

  4. "The whole thing is almost seamless to drivers, who may not even notice that their car’s engine has stopped running."
    -- Sure, when the car's new, but I hate to think of how this is going to work out on 15-year-old cars owned by poor people.

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