8 Million Cars to Have Start-Stop Engines by 2017
Posted Thursday, Aug 23, 2012 by
When your new car’s engine suddenly shuts down when you’ve stopped for a red light, don’t panic. Your engine probably hasn’t stalled. It’s just gone to sleep to save gas.
What’s behind this newest wrinkle in America’s driving ritual is called “start-stop technology.” With start-stop, microcomputers sense when a vehicle has stopped and turn the engine off, thus saving fuel normally wasted during idling. Heat or air conditioning is kept operating by a separate set of small electric motors. When the brake is released and accelerator pressed, the same computers fire up the engine and normal power is restored.
Start-stop can increase fuel efficiency by as much as 12 percent, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).
The science behind start-stop has been around for 20 years. In Europe, where fuel efficiency is an even higher priority than it is in the U.S., more than 40 percent of vehicles already have it, according to AAA. Hybrid cars, such as the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight, also have start-stop as a standard feature. But with new, higher fuel economy standards set to kick in in 2016, automakers are now looking seriously at start-stop for their conventional internal-combustion-driven products. Industry experts expect as many as 8 million American drivers to be using cars with start-stop technology by 2017.
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