Official: Stop-Start technology coming to the United States

Article by Christian Andrei, on September 20, 2010

Vehicles in North America will soon feature "start-stop" systems, which use a relatively simple and low-priced fuel-saving technology. The system turns off your car during idling and it is reignited when the brake is released.

In Europe, this technology is already widespread but it is expected to expand in the US and Canada within the next five years as carmakers consider options to make them comply with stricter fuel-economy and emissions standards.

It’s estimated that this system will improve fuel economy up to 15%. And since the system is very affordable, it’s expected to appeal to a wide range of consumers.

Joe Phillippi of AutoTrends Consulting Inc. in Short Hills, N.J., said that in city driving, getting “one-tenth of a mile per gallon” would have a big impact. This technology is widely used in Europe on vehicles with manual transmissions.

However, less than 10% of buyers in North America drive a manual. This means that there’s a need to adapt the start-stop technology to work with cars most Americans drive.

Analyst Stephanie Brinley of EMC Strategic Communications in Troy thinks that consumer acceptance would not be easy. She pointed out that drivers would find it strange to have their engines suddenly turning off.

Carmakers said that acceptance would be reached faster if the US Environmental Protection Agency changes testing procedures since the full benefits are not recognized as some of the agency's tests don't have many stops.

Nevertheless, many carmakers are believed to include the system in their near-term product plans. Jeff Jowett, principal analyst with IHS Automotive in Northville, believes that “most vehicles will have that capability going forward.”

He also predicts that the technology will steadily grow. Frank Frister, product manager with Bosch North America, forecasts that in 2012, half of the new cars in Europe will have start/stop technology and that North America will get to that figure in 2016. [via Detroit News]

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