By on December 27, 2010

Despite the fact that current EPA testing methods fail to demonstrate the advantages of “stop-start” systems, which shut down engines at idle, Ford will begin rolling out the technology on 2012 model-year vehicles. Automotive News [sub] reports that “some” four-cylinder models will go idle-free starting with next year’s rollout of 2012 models, and that

Based on the European rollout, the most likely initial vehicles include the 2012 Ford Fiesta and Focus cars, Escape crossover, C-Max minivan and Transit Connect delivery vehicle.

By 2015, Ford will have joined Mazda as one of the manufacturers offering start-stop across its lineup (on manual and automatic models). There was, however, no cooperation between the two firms on their respective stop-start systems. Ford’s newest system can reportedly improve efficiency by ten percent in the city and five percent overall.

With so much focus being put on electric, full-hybrid, and plug-in cars, it’s easy to forget that these kinds of lower-cost and widely-applicable (but less-sexy) methods of improving fleet-wide efficiency will have a much larger incremental effect on overall fuel consumption. Along with its commitment to technologies like gasoline direct-injection, downsized, turbocharged engines and dual-clutch transmissions, Ford’s introduction of start-stop systems should help America’s healthiest automotive manufacturer maintain a technological and environmental advantage over the competition for the foreseeable future.

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50 Comments on “Ford Starts Stop-Start Next Year...”


  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    So does it have a system to keep the AC running while you’re idling?

    • 0 avatar
      ExPatBrit

      Yes I wondered about the AC also, since most cars seem to use AC most of the time.
      Are they going to start using electric accessories?
       
       
       

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      For those that are wondering, your vehicle’s A/C and heater will still function normally when the engine is stopped.

      http://www.dailytech.com/Fords+Engine+StartStop+Tech+Coming+to+NonHybrids+Will+Bring+4+Percent+MPG+Gain/article20490.htm

      I’m not sure how Ford does it but other companies use electrcially driven AC compressors.  Electrically driven accessories also have the added benefit of being both much more efficient and much more reliable than mechanically driven accessories.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      IMHO if all hybrids end up doing is electrifying all accessories so that they can be built cheaply with economies of scale, thus freeing motors from belts and allowing them to rev higher without parasitic loss or possible damage, that would make me happy.
      The only thing that the motor should be driving is an output shaft and a starternator.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    “There was, however, no cooperation between the two firms on their respective stop-start systems.”

    More proof that these two companies are going their separate ways?  (Seems like just the sort of customer undetectable technology that would be ripe for cooperative development and sourcing… unless it is nothing more than a software overlay onto exhisting hardware…

  • avatar
    BMWfan

    The companies that make starter motors are going to be happy. Now is the time to sign up for that Jiffystart franchise too!

    • 0 avatar
      dastanley

      I’ve always wondered what the service life of a typical starter motor is these days.  I mean, 15 – 20 minutes of continuous operation?  That would probably exceed 100k miles on the typical mix of driving.

    • 0 avatar
      benzaholic

      I always loved the warning in the owners manual for early 80s Mercedes diesels advising you not to run the starter for more than two minutes without giving it 60 seconds of rest.
       
      Yeah, they were overengineered back then. The downside was that it’s a bear to replace that starter when the car hits 2 or 3 hundred thousand miles.

  • avatar
    Zombo

    That’s an awful low redline on that tach for a 4 cylinder engine . Most 4 bangers are just getting into the meat of their power bands at that RPM .

  • avatar
    dswilly

    This will be interesting when in several years your sitting at a traffic light and all the cars are silent

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Or the cars that are idling are the ones that stick out.  Like farting loudly in the library.

    • 0 avatar
      dastanley

      Like farting loudly in the library.

      Which I did a couple of years ago in the Farmington Public Library – I was feeling particularly obnoxious that day.  One of the cute female library assistants blurted out laughing.  Nice.

  • avatar
    WRohrl

    Having Stop/Start on my Honda Civic Hybrid, this is BY FAR the best feature of the car and as soon as I experienced it, I decided it was a must-have on future vehicles if available and am now annoyed everytime I drive my Tahoe and it is idling at a light, wasting gas.  So simple, so transparent, so without a downside.  In the Honda system (seeing as how the ICE engine is always running in combo with the hybrid system) it will shut down as you approach a stop and get under 9mph.  Release the brake and it fires up again.  You are allowed two stop/starts while remaining under 9mph (i.e. stop and go or if you want to crawl forward slightly behind someone), any more it stays running until it resets by exceeding 9mph.  If it is too cold out or the temp in the car gets too hot, it won’t shut down and just stays running like a normal car.  AC and heat are tied into this, living here in Colorado and varying between 100F in the summer and so far 20F in the winter, the inside of the car has always remained comfortable from a temp standpoint.  Overall, the stop-start kicks in about 95% of the time. 
    Fantastic technology, it should be standard on every car.

    • 0 avatar
      view2share

      I’d rather drive a Yugo, if my other choice was this silly auto stop / start thing.  No way.  Time to start buying that good automobile you always wanted to own and having an extra or two in the garage.

    • 0 avatar
      WRohrl

      I don’t know about the Yugo, that’s kind of cutting your nose off to spite your face….In any normal modern car that is in good mechanical shape, the engine runs so smooth it’s hard to tell it’s on anyway when stopped.  There is no noticeble delay in a good stop/start system.  I can’t figure out the downside that everyone seems to be afraid of.  These systems have been around for quite some time now in other markets and I am not aware of any obvious issues.  But whatever, it’s a free country, whoever wants to waste gas and their money, go to it…

  • avatar
    tonyola

    I’m not sure I could get completely comfortable with a start/stop system. I’ve had too many cars where stopping the engine does not automatically guarantee that it will start up again. The idea of my car suddenly going silent at a busy intersection would make me just a tad nervous.

  • avatar
    jaje

    I wonder if the system has the engine at the compression stroke and ready to fire immediately when the gas is pushed (rather than using a starter).  When I lived in DC I knew a couple of lights that you’d wait 2-4 minutes before moving and would shut the engine off in my car (was a stick shift so easy to restart).  I noticed the tank lasted a lot longer and could not understand why this simple technology improvement was not more commonplace.  Do the hybrids get to keep it only to themselves and the 98% of other cars on the road get ignored?

  • avatar
    geozinger

    It’s a shame that the EPA doesn’t account for start/stop systems in the mileage estimates, although I’m sure there would be a controversy on how to figure mileage.
     
    Regardless, I think this is a good step forward.

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      I heard this alot and wondered why the EPA doesn’t do this.  So, I emailed them earlier this year and the EPA responded back that they do several stop and go cycles in the city testing phase including several prolonged stops to indicated waiting for a light to change.  At this time this rumor seems unfounded and erroneous.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      It’s not a rumor and not erroneous. The EPA does not test for real world situations that would demonstrate the effectiveness for stop/start technology. A couple of traffic light stops does not reflect the traffic conditions that commuters face in major cities like Boston or LA (and I’m sure many others.)

      For example, I rented an Altima once and registered fuel mileage in the single digits over the course of an hour in stop and go traffic North of Boston. An Altima registers 23 mpg in EPA tests. A huge difference. They need to model commuter traffic in major cities and use that number for the city tests or maybe a separate stop and go traffic rating. Their current city tests sound more like suburban traffic rather than a down and dirty urban commute.

    • 0 avatar
      snabster

      I suspect the EPA is correct;  the number of consumers dealing with true city driving — where you can shut down the engine for 3-4 minutes while waiting for a light — is very very limited.
      Having the ability to creep forward at 2-3 mph while in a jam is far more common, but not sure stop-start would really help there.
       
      Useful feature, might have some unexpected side  benefits, and I suspect if the EPA did mandate them we’ll heard a lot of groans from Fox news…

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        I used to manually shut down my engine when I knew I was going to be stopped at a light for the majority of its cycle. (These are normal lights, not multiple minutes.) I did not always shut down the engine when I stopped–only when I was familiar with the circumstances & could predict when it would change.

        I saw a 5-10% improvement in city mpg doing this. This matches Mazda’s claims about real-world benefit, so I believe them. That also makes me believe their claim that the EPA’s city rating would not be significantly affected. The EPA’s response noted above seems to be typical corporate shill.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      @ snabster

      “the number of consumers dealing with true city driving — where you can shut down the engine for 3-4 minutes while waiting for a light — is very very limited.”

      According to the 2000 Census data, there are 89 million people living in just the top 10 metro areas – that’s about 29% of the entire U.S. population. If that’s your idea of a “very, very limited” market your perception is very, very out of line with reality.

      Shutting the engine down for 3-4 minutes is not the definition of “true city driving” – you just picked that out of the blue.

  • avatar
    JMII

    I too worry about the car just not restarting. Are batteries in cars suddenly going to become twice the size? Or switch to 24V systems? This is going to stress the alternator and the starter, so I’m guessing these cars will have beefed up versions installed? Running the A/C in stop and go traffic is going to suck down alot of juice due to constant on/off cycles of the engine. However the idea of a belt-less all electrical accessories system sounds like a good thing long term… well unless you sell belts and pulleys.

    • 0 avatar
      asapuntz

      Some conventional cars have already increased battery capacity quite a bit. 10-yr-old BMW M5s have a lot more than “starting” juice in the trunk. I guess they want to make sure it will still start after a month of standby power drain in the airport parking lot – alarm, remote, and who-knows-what.
      It may be personal bias, but I notice many people idling their cars in situations other than traffic stops – mainly waiting in parking lots, and not just police cars or employees who don’t pay the fuel bill. A reliable start-stop maintaining accessory function could eliminate that waste …

  • avatar
    Tommy Boy

    One more hard to diagnose electrical thing to fail shortly after warranty expiration.
     
    Hopefully (like the seat belt interlocks of the 1970′s) bypassing these systems won’t be too difficult.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Yes, because we all know how much less reliable and durable cars are than they used to be…

    • 0 avatar
      BMWfan

      The devil’s advocate strikes again!

    • 0 avatar
      Acubra

      @Jmo
      Sure, they are more reliable – but for how long? There is a very good reason for terrible depreciation of late 90s – early 2000s Mercedes and BMW top models. If its Command or iDrive goes kaput, fixing it will be far more than the car’s value. And that is before we mention all those drive-by-wires, CAN-buses that require mating everything, even a stupid indicator relay… And all this can only be done by a dealership. Expensively.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian


      Modern cars cost less over the lifetime of the car and are more reliable. Yes, there’s might be a few electrical gremlins that require a dealership visit and/or a component swap, but that’s more than offset by the lack of frequent mechanical failures that plague older cars.
       
      Even princesses like German luxury cars or Italian exotica are more reliable and stay on the road longer and with lower costs.
       
      People who think modern cars are somehow worse or less reliable are suffering either from wistful nostalgia and/or Luddism born out of wilful ignorance.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      “Even princesses like German luxury cars or Italian exotica are more reliable and stay on the road longer and with lower costs.”
       
      Read the E65/66 board on Bimmerfest and tell me that one with a straight face. The big German cars have gotten far more unreliable as they’ve gotten newer. The E65/66 coolant pipe repair ($7-11k for parts and labor – mainly shop time) is a repair that wouldn’t happen on an old E32 7-series with the M30 inline six.
       
       
      http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=138

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    Dumb idea (no shock it’s from Ford).
     
    I MUCH rather pay the extra $0.05 in fuel than have to replace my starter far earlier than I would without this gimmicky “technology”.
     
    If Ford was smart (and that’s a big IF), they would allow the buyer of the vehicle to shut the damn “feature” off.

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      Most likely it will be a setting you can turn on or off. Ford gave me the option of turning on or off the stupid automatic door lock feature on my 1995 Explorer with out having to do any wiring. GM does if you opt for the information center, otherwise you are out of luck.

    • 0 avatar
      Tommy Boy

      It’s probably not Ford’s dumb idea so much as the new CAFE standards pushed by Obama and his eco-weenie constituency.  The federal government doesn’t care if we have to replace batteries and starters more often, they only care about the magic “fuel economy” number, and the manufacturers are forced to meet the government standards.
       
      That’s not to say that Ford and others aren’t taking “cheaper ways out” than, say, using lighter weight aluminum for hoods and trunks which would accomplish the same thing, but cost more.
       
      They’ll engineer the start-stop to have a mean time to failure after the warranty period, and we consumers will get to incur the higher costs down the road … so whatever “fuel” savings will be wiped out (and probably more) by this feel good effort to force “improved” fuel economy.

    • 0 avatar
      Formerlythegreatestdriver

      Not really. These start stop systems have been designed, tested and verified for much longer starter cycle life. And yes, if you want to, you can disable the feature by a simple button on the dash.

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    I’d like to see the starter they plan on using, because a normally made starter would have a maximum lifespan of about 6 months, if that much.

    • 0 avatar
      alex_rashev

      Jesus you guys, what kind of cars do you drive that eat starters so fast? I have an 89 MR2 with a notoriously unreliable hot-side starter (sits right under the exhaust manifold). I also keep neglecting fixing a cold-start injector on it for the past year, so on a cold day it takes a good 10 seconds of cranking to start it up. It’s an original starter on a 140K mile car.

      A lot of euro cars have start-stop and I don’t hear about them eating starters.

      I can’t wait for the moment they merge starter and alternator and stuff it on the flywheel so that we could finally have accessories that are not on a belt, and that are sitting in a better location than the nose of the car.

    • 0 avatar
      majo8

      IIRC, I read that Ford will be using a system where the number one cylinder will stop at the optimum point in it’s compression/power stroke to facilitate restarting the engine simply by squirting some fuel and igniting the spark plug.   So, the starter may not be used at all in start/stop, or as a backup system.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      @Majo8
       
      I’m curious how that’s going to work with a diesel. Will they have to have supplementary spark plugs for restarting?

  • avatar
    Ian Anderson

    I’m going to go buy stock in the companies making all those starters. I’ll be rich one year after this bit of tech debuts!
     
    Okay seriously it’s actually a pretty good idea, I just hope they beef up the starters and charging/battery systems. And does anyone still put the starters under the intake manifolds of V-engines (ala the Northstar and Lexus/Toyota V8s)?

  • avatar
    Acubra

    Yet another stupid gizmo that is only useful to a small percentage of population, will save a user a few cents and is another step that transforms a motor vehicle in a cell phone of some sort – only trendy for a season and totally prone to expensively breaking down once its warranty is over.
    And all these lemmings, so conscious about a few more drops of fuel they use, do not care about such wasteful use of rare earths and minerals that comes from such a short service life of a car they hail.

    • 0 avatar
      Tommy Boy

      Another thought.  All of this stop-start means that oil pressure drops all the time as the engine shuts off and the oil starts draining back down into the oil pan, and then the oil pump comes back on when the engine restarts and the oil pressure is back after “x” seconds — this can’t be good for the long term longevity of the engine.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I haven’t researched the Ford stop/start system, but the BAS (Belt Alternator Starter) system that GM uses (described here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BAS_Hybrid) has a start/stop function. All of the components are beefed up to to take the abuse a driver can dish out. These won’t be the starters and alternators of old.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Great idea but is it completely fool proof.. what happens if your dead @ a light and need to do a split second manoeuvre cause your about to be rear-ended?

    Will there be a greater tendency at end of component life to see start system failures occur more frequently on road and in traffic rather than in the driveway or parking lot?

    Where it really counts is in the driving habit – too much gas & brakes to the next red.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Surely this is a relatively trivial design exercise. Toyota has had this system on all Priuses for a decade, and there are many European vehicles with the system. Why Americans, judging by the comments here, would flutter and tremble about starter motor failure is beyond me. Ridiculous. Of course the manufacturers will beef up the starter motor if they have so little imagination as to not to come up with a more elegant solution like Mazda has.

    Mazda’s system from several years ago and still current, stops the engine at a particular point in the cycle. To start it doesn’t even require the starter motor. Just add gas and spark and it starts itself. Ford’s system sounds the same, even if they do protest too much that they have nothing to do with Mazda.

    For diesels, this ain’t going to work. But since VW in Europe have been making systems for diesels for years, I just cannot fathom the inane comments here. The world does not stop and start in the USA. Obviously. Google “VW start stop system”, and you’ll get to read about the BMW system as well, which is just a beefed up starter motor and not half as clever as Mazda’s.

    I salute Ford for getting on with the job here in North America, even if the dimwits at the EPA haven’t woken up and made it mandatory.


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