Do you need Start Stop technology?

by Ernie Hernandez on July 6, 2012

Micra Start Stop button

A closer look at how Start Stop technology works

Ford is thumping their chest about all of the patents that they’ve received for the Start Stop technology on the 2013 Ford Fusion. They actually introduced the technology on the Fusion back in April though its been used in Europe and Japan for much longer. Let’s take a closer look at what Start Stop technology does, and why it might be on your next car.

Start Stop technology does exactly what it sounds like – it stops the engine from idling at a stop light, the drive-thru at your favorite dive taco shop, or other temporary stopping situation, and re-starts it before you take off. How does it know that you’re going to take off? You take your foot off of the brake. But the system is way more complex than that.

Reading over Ford’s interesting press release on the subject, the engineers had to take a fairly large number of functions under consideration. One of the most basic – it needs to be sure that the battery has enough juice to restart the engine. It also ramps the alternator output voltage down to battery voltage so vehicle accessories that are being operated at the time don’t see a voltage change from engine on to engine off. In addition, the start stop system monitors the vehicle’s climate control system. If the engine is stopped for an extended period of time (when the guy in front of you ordered enough burritos for the entire neighborhood) before the interior starts to warm up, the engine will turn on to activate the air conditioning to keep you from getting hot under the collar. In addition, it looks at those times when it is best not to turn the engine off (such as extreme cold or heavy accessory usage). Based on this new press release from Ford, we thought we’d check out Nissan’s take on Start Stop technology.

It turns out that Nissan introduced Start Stop technology on the March, also known as the Micra, and reviewing our posts we see that we mentioned it almost exactly a year ago. Nissan released the new March almost a year before that, so Nissan is no late-comer to the technology. Taking a look at the write-up in Nissan’s technology magazine, we found some interesting features that we did not find mentioned on the Ford system. These include a transmission lock function to prevent rollback when stopped on an incline. Nissan engineers also noted that when most drivers turn right at an intersection, the steering wheel is turned before the brake is released. Taking that into account, the Start Stop technology will restart the engine with the turn of the wheel rather than the release of the brake.

Bottom line – is this technology helpful in reducing fuel consumption? Yes. Overall, about a 3 percent fuel economy improvement is noted. If a significant amount of driving takes place in a city environment with more stop lights, improvements of 10 percent may be had. Look for Start Stop technology to find its way to more cars over the next five years – both foreign and domestic.

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