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Ford Brings Stop-Start System to U.S. Cars in 2012

By Dale Jewett

By AutoWeek Dec 27, 2010 5:25AM

Drivers will see an indicator light when Ford's stop-start system is active. The automaker's European system is shown.




Ford will equip many of its U.S. cars and SUVs with stop-start technology, beginning in 2012, that automatically shuts down the engine when the vehicle comes to a stop, cutting down on fuel use and emissions.


The technology, which Ford calls Auto Start-Stop, will be available with either manual or automatic transmissions. A Ford spokesman says engineers are still developing the technology so it will keep the pressure up in the automatic transmission fluid when the engine is stopped. The fluid pressure is needed for the transmission to operate properly.


Ford also has not yet made a final decision whether to roll the cost of Auto Start-Stop into the vehicle's base price or make it an extra-cost option, the spokesman said.


The automaker's new generation of direct-injection four-cylinder engines will be the first to get the stop-start technology. Ford plans to spread it among its four-, six- and eight-cylinder engine families. But the technology can't be used on all models, such as the F-series Super Duty pickups, the spokesman said.


A direct-injection fuel system and electric-powered water pump are two technologies needed for Auto Start-Stop. Direct injection, which squirts fuel directly into each cylinder, enables the engine to start quicker. The electric water pump circulates coolant even when the engine is stopped, which keeps heat flowing to the passenger compartment.


Other parts of Auto Start-Stop are a beefed up starter motor that is engineered to last for more start cycles, an upgraded ring gear on the engine's flywheel and an 12-volt battery engineered for deeper discharge and charge cycles.


The stop-start system automatically shuts down the engine when the vehicle comes to a stop, such as at a traffic light. The engine automatically restarts when it senses the driver releasing the brake pedal.


Ford says the system can cut fuel use by as much as 10 percent.


It has already rolled the technology out in Europe, on ECOnetic versions of the Ka small car and Mondeo sedan. Ford is adding Auto Start-Stop to the Ford Focus, C-Max and Grand C-Max models--vehicles that are likely to be the first U.S. Fords to use the technology. And Ford's hybrid vehicles in the United States already use stop-start technology.


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Dec 28, 2010 10:07AM
It's in some vehicles already (Porsche Panamera et al) and it does work. When you are stopped, the engine "shuts off"..... kinda. It gets very quiet and stops turning over, and restarts and delivers powers immediately when the accelerator is depressed. There really is no lag, and anyone driving an automatic/manumatic transmission car won't notice much other than the engine is very quiet when stationary. Sounds good right?

Well, as others have pointed out - it puts more wear and tear on more components of your car more often. That will come back to bite you. And like anything electric - it's prone to gremlins. The Porsche version is, by all accounts, "nearly" entirely bug free - but that's the version on a $100k car.... you really wanna trust a built-to-budget system installed on your 20k Ford Focus? Throw in that most cars in America are only truly stationary for the briefest of periods - as opposed to stop-start-crawl-stop-start ad nauseum driving most of us do - this system isn't going to help much except on very congested streets. And as others have said - they could achieve those savings by lightening vehicles, and tinkering with the idle engine management (which already uses very little fuel unless you rev it constantly like a meathead who shouldn't be allowed to drive in the first place).

Dec 28, 2010 7:08AM

If anyone has ever driven one of the current vehicles with this feature ( Nissan something rental car) you'll see it is SO ANNOYING. Especially if caught in a rush hour gridlock. This would drive people towards electrics. Maybe thats the goal, for commuters anyway. 

Dec 28, 2010 6:25AM
Instead of more sophisticated engine management systems (although nice that we get electric water pumps and DI), can't they just use an aluminum alloy for the hood and door skins to save weight and get that extra 10% economy boost?  Or trunk lids.  Other manufacturers have taken this route.  I would imagine the cost of the light weight body components would be about the same as DI or the electric water pumps and associated plumbing.

That, and if I'm at a stoplight in my new Ford and some asshat behind me doesn't brake in time to avoid hitting me (or an emergency vehicle is pulling through), I'd like to know that I can just hit the gas to get out of his way instead of waiting on my engine to start.

Dec 27, 2010 4:12PM

"Ford says the system can cut fuel use by as much as 10 percent."


Yea, if you sit stopped for an hour in traffic during what would otherwise be a 5 minute drive!  Actual fuel "savings" will be MUCH less.


"The electric water pump circulates coolant even when the engine is stopped"


They also better be adding an electric OIL pump, without which any money saved in fuel costs will be more than offset by the need to replace internal engine parts prematurely worn out from all the Start-Stop cycles.


If this moronic "technology" can not be un-programmed from the ECU, any manufacturer using it will be scratched off my prospective car shopping list.


Dec 27, 2010 1:37PM

You can be pretty well assured that Ford will pass the cost on to the consumer or make only available on it's higher end model trim.  When your Big trucks and SUVs get ugly fuel economy to begin with,  how much is 10% savings in a 25+ gallon fuel tank really worth when the price of the system will negate the fuel savings?   

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