Start-Stop Tech is Saving Fuel, Growing in Popularity

A couple of summers ago, I had the chance to drive a BMW X3 Efficient Dynamics with start-stop technology.  FYI, start-stop will turn your engine off when the car comes to a complete stop for a period of time.  Once you release the brake, the car quickly restarts and you’re on your way.  You save money and fuel by eliminating idle.  We spent a week down south, and put about 750 miles on the car.  The BMW system worked flawlessly, and at no point did the system fail, become labored, or make me think that something could be wrong.

Last winter, I drove a Chevy Malibu with start-stop.  One of our vehicle had been hit, and we were given the Malibu ECO as a loaner.  I was quite surprised that the Chevy system was as reliable as the one from BMW.  The car ran like a top, no hesitation, and again nothing that would make me feel that something could be wrong with the car.  What really impressed me was the impact that this technology could make.  Putting this in a BMW is kind of expected, given the commitment of automakers to put green technology in luxury cars.  Putting this green tech in a family midsize like a Malibu?  Genius.

I saw this today from Johnson Controls, the company that supplies the battery for start-stop tech.  There’s a lot of good stuff all over the place in this one, so here’s the whole thing:

Johnson Controls is expanding the production of advanced batteries for Start-Stop vehicles amid growing demand for better fuel economy and more sustainable technologies. The company will increase its existing Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) battery capacity in its Toledo, Ohio plant, bringing the overall invested amount to $130 million since the start of production for this technology in the U.S. in 2012.

 

“Consumers want to drive vehicles further using less gas,” says Petar Oklobdzija, vice president and general manager Original Equipment, Americas, Johnson Controls. “They want to buy vehicles with technology that is available today and is affordable. The solution is Start-Stop technology.”

 

Tightening government fuel economy and carbon emission reduction targets put additional challenges on car makers from all around the world to replace conventional technologies with more efficient, advanced technologies. 

 

“Most auto makers have already announced plans to have a majority of new vehicles equipped with Start-Stop or similar technology within the next three to five years,” adds Oklobdzija. “Our battery supply contracts for the Ford F-150 and Chevy Malibu underscore this trend, which predicts about 9 million Start-Stop vehicles will be on the road in the U.S. by 2020.”

 

Start-Stop enables up to 5 percent fuel economy savings over a conventional vehicle.  The technology automatically shuts off the engine when the car is idle and restarts it when the driver’s foot leaves the brake pedal. During this time, the vehicle’s electrical systems – from entertainment to lights – use energy from an advanced lead-acid battery rather than the gas-powered engine, thus saving fuel.

 

“AGM batteries are the best solution for Start-Stop vehicles because they enable the frequent charge-discharge cycles the vehicle requires. When the Toledo plant expansion finishes in 2016, our capacity will add to Johnson Controls global production capabilities in Europe and China,” concludes Oklobdzija.

 

The global Start-Stop market for new vehicles could reach 53 million annually by 2020. The technology gained its popularity in Europe followed by the U.S. and China.

 

I did not know this tech was in Ford F-150’s, a move I believe is equally as brilliant.

I have read where some drivers get confused by the technology, that they feel unsafe unless the car is running.  I understand.  I empathize.  I say “get over it”.  It’s time automakers add start-stop to all of their cars.  It’s an easy way to help customers save fuel.

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Sebastian James

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