Deutsche Straßen sind nicht der Nürburgring.
But there I go, quoting German Minister of Transportation Peter Ramsauer out of context, and in the original. Herr Ramsauer’s rebuke comes on news of a late-night crash involving a future Mercedes ML Class prototype, that resulted in the death of a 26-year old man over the weekend. The crash took place on a stretch of non-speed-limited autobahn between Singen and Stuttgart, favored by Mercedes and Porsche for high-speed testing. Apparently the victim had been involved in a minor accident and was trying to exit his vehicle (stalled in the left lane, according to Der Spiegel) when the Mercedes test mule slammed into his car, killing him instantly. The 52-year old test driver is under investigation for negligent homicide.
For an industry under ever-increasing pressure from government emissions standards, start-stop technology (which shuts off engines under idling conditions) seems like an easy route to improved fuel efficiency. Cheaper and less complicated than a true hybrid system, a number of automakers from BMW to Kia are proliferating start-stop technology across their product lines without hybrid-like price premium. Since this technology represents a relatively easy, incremental efficiency upgrade, we’ve wondered why it hasn’t been made available stateside, where hybrids are making up a growing proportion of sales. Detroit’s executives seem to think it’s a good idea, and Mazda has even gone so far as to complain that EPA test results refusing to show the Japanese test-cycle’s 7-9 percent improvement is the main factor preventing it from bringing more stop-start equipped vehicles to the US. But there’s another issue preventing stop-start from becoming standard issue industry-wide, and it’s actually remarkably obvious.