Although many consumers might still be unfamiliar with stop-start technology, once they learn how it works and the potential benefits, a new survey finds that 97 percent of Americans say they’d accept it.
Briefly, stop-start technology automatically shuts off the engine during idle and restarts it when the brake pedal is released or the clutch engaged.
The survey, conducted in a series of eight focus groups in four U.S. cities, was commissioned by Johnson Controls, a leading supplier of automotive batteries. Most of the respondents said they liked the idea of saving on fuel costs, while 25 percent said stop-start technology “just makes sense.”
How much were consumers surveyed willing to pay for such a system? More than one-third said that for a 5-percent improvement in fuel economy, they’d be willing to pay up to $500.
2013 Ford FusionEnlarge Photo
Vehicles with stop-start
As automakers try to comply with increasingly stringent Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards – 35.5 mpg by 2016 and 54.5 mpg by 2025—the incorporation of start-stop systems in mainstream non-hybrid vehicles is likely to take hold.
Now, annual production is about 3 million, and that’s mostly in the European market. That’s expected to grow to 35 million worldwide by 2025.
Which vehicles are available today with the technology? Originally offered in some luxury models from BMW and Mercedes-Benz, stop-start technology will be available on the new 2013 Ford Fusion mid-size sedan and the 2013 Kia Rio subcompact. The 2013 Porsche 911 will also get the technology.
As for the price point of the system in mainstream cars, Auto Start Stop in the 2013 Ford Fusion costs $295 and is available as an option with the 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine. Fuel economy is projected to be 26 mpg city/37 mpg highway.
2013 Kia Rio 5-doorEnlarge Photo
In the case of the Kia Rio, the technology was supposed to deploy in late 2012 model year, but has been moved to the 2013 Rio as part of the Eco package. Pricing for the Eco package is $400, but it also requires the $1,150 Convenience package. Fuel economy is 31 mpg city/40 mpg highway, although commuters navigating through highly congested stop-and-go conditions may see 10-percent improvement (compared to Rios without stop-start). Read more about the 2013 Rio in this review.