Automatic Stop/Start Technology Can Save Fuel

With fuel economy standards steadily increasing (the latest regulations will require fleets to average 54.5 mpg by 2025), automakers are introducing fuel-saving gadgets wherever they can. One technology, already widely available in Europe, has started making its way to U.S. shores. Start/stop systems, which allow engines to turn off while cars are stopped at red lights, aim to be an unobtrusive way to increase efficiency. It’s hard to argue with the logic. As an Audi ad campaign points out, turning off the engine while stopped is similar to turning off the lights when you leave a room. With the car stopped and the gearshift in neutral, a light on the dash will illuminate to let drivers know the technology is active. As soon as the clutch is depressed, the engine quickly turns back on again and normal driving resumes. This feature won’t earn you hybrid mileage, but for buyers looking for performance automobiles with a conscience, it is certainly a start. Audi brought start/stop technology to the United States in 2009 and has since expanded its availability to include the A7, A8, Q5, and Q7. BMW offers the technology in all 1 and 3 Series models equipped with a four-cylinder engine and a manual transmission. Ford began introducing Auto Start-Stop to the 2013 Fusion with EcoBoost engine as a $295 option, granting access at a more affordable price point. Taking the idea one step further, GM has introduced eAssist with the Buick LaCrosse and Regal and the Chevrolet Malibu Eco. You won’t hear GM say it in ads, but the technology turns cars into what is referred to as a “mild hybrid.” A battery motor takes over when the car is stopped, then returns power almost seamlessly to the traditional engine once the car has started rolling. GM's eAssist can also lend a little extra power when drivers demand heavy acceleration. Compared with a full hybrid, the fuel savings are modest, but GM hopes that it will be able to spread the versatile technology easily throughout its fleet. Full hybrids, on the other hand, typically require specialized engineering to maintain the car’s balance and drivability. The actual fuel savings from these technologies can differ, depending on whom you ask and how you measure it, but even if you don’t notice a huge difference at the pump, these options may help you sleep easier, knowing that your daily drive melted a little less of the polar ice caps than everyone else’s.
    Was this helpful? (31) (12)
    Previous Article October 12, 2012 The Interactive Car: Coming Closer
    Next Article October 1, 2012 Time to Decompress!
    Add a Comment