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A Go for Start-Stop


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24. May 2012

97% of those surveyed are interested. Of course, this means that they know about the system, which shuts off the engine during idle and then restarts it when the brake pedal is released or, in the case of a manual transmission-equipped vehicle, the clutch is engaged. The start-stop systems can provide an improvement on the order of 5 to 10%.

“This research”—consisting of focus groups and 1,200 survey respondents—“further confirms that while U.S. are still generally unfamiliar with the technology, Start-Stop vehicles will provide the improved fuel economy and performance they want at a price that is acceptable to them,” said Kim Metlcalf-Kupres, vice president for Global Strategy and Marketing, Johnson Controls Power Solutions.

logo(In case you’re wondering why Johnson Controls conducted the study: it happens to be the world’s leading supplier of automotive batteries, and the start-stop system requires a lead-acid battery that can handle the deep cycling requirements of, well, start-stop, start-stop. . . .)

The technology has been widely embraced in Europe, which, according to Johnson Controls, accounts for the majority of the 3-million start-stop equipped cars in the market today. The company estimates that it could grow to 35-million vehicles globally by 2015. What’s more, they think that about 40% of the new cars on offer in the U.S. in 2015 could be equipped with start-stop systems.

One thing, however. When you’ve not driven a car with a stop-start system, the first several times you do you are likely to have an uncomfortable feeling when stopped at a light and suddenly realize that your engine isn’t running—and the light has turned green. In my experience, hybrid cars generally have a seamless start whereas cars with conventional powertrains sometimes have a bit of a hesitation. And then the stomach sinks like on the Tower of Terror.

Presumably powertrain engineers will get this sorted before 2015.

One of the means by which fuel economy can be improved is by shutting off the engine when it isn’t being used. Which is sort of like turning off a light when no one is in the room except for the fact, of course, that we’re talking about shutting off the engine of a car or light truck when it is, say, stopped at a light and you’re still in the car. And you still want the HVAC system to work and the audio to play.

Systems have been developed to accommodate this.

And a vast majority of Americans are interested in getting start-stop systems, according to a recent survey by Johnson Controls.

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