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The 2000 Volkswagen Lupo used start-stop to achieve a fuel economy of 75 mpg in Europe on a diesel engine. Manufacturers haven't brought the tech to non-hybrids in the U.S., due to flaws in the EPA's fuel economy testing.  (Source: Cars Plus Plus)
EPA is finally considering looking at the real value of stop start

Fuel economy ratings are supposed to provide an estimate of the vehicles' real-world performance, helping customers determine how efficient the vehicle is.  Unfortunately, the ratings are only as good as the tests that determine them, and in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's case, those tests aren't very good.

One significant oversight is stop start technology.  Overseas stop-start technology is featured on a host of models, including the Audi A3 TDI, BMW 1-Series, BMW 3-Series, Mazda 2, Mini Cooper, Toyota Yaris.  The technology is somewhat expensive -- it's about $500 extra to install -- however, it's more than worth it, providing fuel economy gains of around 7 percent.

The EPA's flawed test cycle, though, currently only includes one stop so the tech only earns automakers a 0.1 or 0.2 mpg increase in the official EPA mileage estimates, despite much larger real world gains.  Without the extra rating to justify the extra costs, manufacturers simply haven't been importing the tech on U.S. models. 

Currently, the only vehicles to feature the tech are hybrids such as the Toyota Prius, Honda Insight, Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid and BMW ActiveHybrid X6, as their electric systems allow the tech to be implemented at a much lower costs.  The net result is that at the end of the day, the U.S. is trailing the rest of the world in fuel economy.

Still the allure of models like the Volkswagen Lupo, which received an estimated 75 mpg, keep customers demanding that the EPA reconsider stop-start.  Robert Davis, Mazda's top product-development executive in North America, comments, "In Japan, we're seeing anywhere from 7 to 9 percent fuel economy gains from it. That's a jump from 33 to 37 miles per gallon in a metro environment."

Audi of America spokesman Christian Bokich complains, "We did not realize any savings in U.S. EPA estimates based on required testing cycles."

The EPA may finally be coming around and may try to fix its flawed test procedure.  It's taking public comment on stop-start technologies, currently, and will look to announce new procedures in April.  Those procedures could finally include a test with more stops.  Mazda is urging automakers to join together to lobby the EPA to give stop-start its just rewards.  While this is obviously a matter of personal interest to the company, it's also important industry wide, and to U.S. consumers.



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How is $500 expensive?
By Lord 666 on 12/30/2009 10:20:50 AM , Rating: 5
Seriously, when car makers say a new technology is cost prohibitive, they rarely mention the actual cost. Hybrid diesels are said to be "expensive" along with the Accord diesel.

Yet, when the cost is actually revealed for this $500 stop/start mechanism that will save real money and fuel, it begs to question who is making these decisions saying something is expensive. GPS and entertainment packages usually add $2000-5000 to a car. Do people really need the $500 wheel package? Is it expensive because the diesel Accord would have needed a $75 oil change versus $25?
I consider the battery replacement for hybrids expensive now, but hope economies of scale will greatly bring down the cost.

Bring the hybrid diesels, my US spec Audi A6 TDI quattro (http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=17243... and even some diesel trucks like the Pilot. Let the market decide what is "too expensive" versus some suits who are out of touch with the market and modern consumers.




RE: How is $500 expensive?
By chruschef on 12/30/2009 10:38:32 AM , Rating: 3
how expensive is $500 out of your pocket? from a businesses perspective, it's literally burning money because there's currently no return on the investment.


RE: How is $500 expensive?
By quiksilvr on 12/30/2009 11:17:41 AM , Rating: 2
Uh, the return on the investment is SALES!


RE: How is $500 expensive?
By iFX on 12/30/2009 11:52:02 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly. lol


RE: How is $500 expensive?
By Solandri on 12/30/2009 1:43:55 PM , Rating: 3
That was Jason's point. Since the EPA figures with the option would only rise 0.1-0.2 MPG, there would be little increase in sales from offering the device as an option.

Or are you offering to pay for and run a nationwide educational campaign to inform car buyers that getting the device will increase your mileage about 7%, not the 0.1-0.2 MPG the EPA figures show?


RE: How is $500 expensive?
By Lord 666 on 12/30/2009 2:00:54 PM , Rating: 2
VW did and their Jetta TDI sales have done well. They had a third party vendor review the MPG and found it to be higher than the EPA.

In the age of the Internet, the truth and positive viral communication will trump whatever the EPA numbers say regardless of hybrid, diesel, or hydrogen.


RE: How is $500 expensive?
By Spuke on 12/30/2009 2:04:36 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
VW did and their Jetta TDI sales have done well. They had a third party vendor review the MPG and found it to be higher than the EPA.
Do you have any proof that this education had direct correlation to VW's supposed increase in sales of the new TDI Jetta's?


RE: How is $500 expensive?
By ayat101 on 12/30/2009 10:21:46 PM , Rating: 2
Clearly you misunderstand what a correlation is. If two things happen at the same time, they are correlated. True, correlation does not prove causation... but you missed the point on this one.


RE: How is $500 expensive?
By Spuke on 12/31/09, Rating: 0
RE: How is $500 expensive?
By Lord 666 on 12/31/2009 12:40:19 PM , Rating: 2
Spuke,

Part of my point the OP was trying to explain to you was regardless of what the official EPA numbers are, if a product is capable of achieving consistently and independantly verified better MPG, the user community will pick up on it by word of mouth. Truth is the most honest selling point of any product. This is the reason why the Prius and VW TDI products have done well because they actually work and in some cases exceed expectations.

VW took what they and the user base of TDIs owners already knew and got it verified by a third party and then advertised it. Additionally, the current Jetta TDI also holds a Guiness World Record that VW isn't afraid to advertise - http://www.autoblog.com/2008/09/30/vw-jetta-tdi-se...

A similar scenario is overclocking CPUs; while Intel rates a Q9550 at 2.83, but it is common knowledge it can be overclocked well into the 3.xx's or higher.

So circling back to the topic... if VW or other manufacturers equip their cars with this $500 option, word of mouth mixed with third party reviews will negate the lackluster EPA testing results.


RE: How is $500 expensive?
By mdogs444 on 12/30/2009 10:46:47 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
Yet, when the cost is actually revealed for this $500 stop/start mechanism that will save real money and fuel, it begs to question who is making these decisions saying something is expensive. GPS and entertainment packages usually add $2000-5000 to a car. Do people really need the $500 wheel package? Is it expensive because the diesel Accord would have needed a $75 oil change versus $25?

Its the consumer who makes the decision ultimately. The people looking for a big increase in fuel efficiency are typically buying cheaper, more fuel efficient cars. Sure, there are the groups who buy a Fusion hybrid, Prius, Escape hybrid...but lets be honest here. Those buying those care are really doing it more for a "feel good" perspective, rather than actually spending that much more money to save fuel.

$500 on a $12,000 care carries much more impact than $500 on a $35,000 car. Those paying the premium of $3000-$5,000 on an entertainment system probably do not need the extra 2, 3, or 4 miles per gallon as a necessity. If they did, they'd be spending that $5,000 for fuel efficiency instead of luxury, or saving it by buying a cheaper car with better mileage.


RE: How is $500 expensive?
By Lord 666 on 12/30/2009 11:15:31 AM , Rating: 3
Provided the product is offered for sale, then the consumer ultimately decides. As you point out, the hybrids have a poor return on investment other than the feel good factor. If companies offered true choice based on available technology, that would benefit both producer and consumer.

If a diesel Accord is offered, it would just be a power plant swap that would provide 40mpg AND near luxury quality. As Honda stated, the product worked well in the R/D phase, but found to be too "expensive." Yet, the very same product is offered for sale in Europe. Huge mileage gains are realized on the diesel CRV. Again, it is offered for sale in the UK where the standard of living is less, but not US. Honda has already patented their trick catalytic converter to meet T2B5 that doesn't require urea, but there is nothing preventing them from using both.

I guess my frustration is the logical answer is being blatantly ignored. Common sense would have put a diesel in the Volt, but GM said it would require a mini-chemistry set for it to work. Yet, the Volt has issues in the heat. Engineers have funny priorities.

My Jetta TDI is slightly more expensive to maintain with synthetic oil being required, but the fuel savings is huge for my family. Other than that, the rest is just inexpensive Jetta parts.


RE: How is $500 expensive?
By Alexstarfire on 12/30/2009 4:44:50 PM , Rating: 2
Hahahahaha. I can only laugh when reading about the "feel good factor" that many say is the hybrid's only purpose.


RE: How is $500 expensive?
By microslice on 12/30/2009 1:13:41 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Its the consumer who makes the decision ultimately. The people looking for a big increase in fuel efficiency are typically buying cheaper, more fuel efficient cars. Sure, there are the groups who buy a Fusion hybrid, Prius, Escape hybrid...but lets be honest here. Those buying those care are really doing it more for a "feel good" perspective, rather than actually spending that much more money to save fuel.


I totally disagree with this. My Highlander hybrid is getting 26 MPG combined. This is significantly better than the non-hybrid. Not to mention the added torque from the electric assist. So, I get better power and better gas mileage.

What's not to like?


RE: How is $500 expensive?
By mdogs444 on 12/30/2009 1:36:48 PM , Rating: 1
No one said there isnt anything to like. You're misplacing the point.

The car may be better, and you may get another few miles per gallon (what, 3 or 4?) with the hybrid...but if you were really all that concerned with gas mileage, you probably wouldn't be driving an SUV...and if you were concerned with both costs and mileage, you sure wouldn't have bought a hybrid SUV.

The point is that you can afford the nicer car that only gets 26MPG (hey, my Expedition and F150 get maybe 15? lol)...but if you were a gas mileage junkie and doing it to save money, you'd be buying some kind of Corolla, Fit, minivan or something....something more fuel efficient and cheaper. That's all...no one is knocking what you have.


RE: How is $500 expensive?
By Solandri on 12/30/2009 1:54:29 PM , Rating: 3
MPG figures are misleading. Fuel consumption is actually the inverse of MPG, so MPG figures tend to de-emphasize how much extra fuel trucks and SUVs use, while exaggerating how much fuel hybrids save. (This is why most of the world uses liters per 100 km, not km per liter). The biggest savings actually comes from switching from the big SUVs to a moderately fuel-efficient sedan.

In other words, going from a 15 MPG SUV to a 30 MPG sedan cuts your fuel consumption in half. If you drive 30 miles per day, you'd go from using 2 gallons a day to 1 gallon a day - a savings of 1 gallon a day.

It is impossible to obtain the same fuel savings going from a sedan to any other vehicle, since reducing 1 gallon a day by 1 gallon a day leaves you with zero gallons a day consumed. A hybrid which manages 60 MPG will still use 0.5 gal a day, for a net savings of just 0.5 gallons. A 120 MPG vehicle would use 0.25 gal a day, for a net savings of just 0.75 gallons. Even a pure electric vehicle will have costs associated with electricity, and so will not save you as much as the 1 gallon a day you get by switching from an SUV to a sedan.


RE: How is $500 expensive?
By Lord 666 on 12/30/2009 3:30:53 PM , Rating: 2
Made my wife go from a 2005 CRV to 2006 Jetta TDI. Huge savings plus she feels safer in the car as it handles better and along with excellent side impact rating. She used to average 500 miles per week and the cost savings worked out to be about $100+ a month. Using $2.65 a gallon for diesel, that savings of $100 works out to be 37 gallons per month saved.

I'm now stuck with the truck driving it to and from mass transit.


RE: How is $500 expensive?
By microslice on 12/30/2009 6:48:16 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The car may be better, and you may get another few miles per gallon (what, 3 or 4?) with the hybrid...but if you were really all that concerned with gas mileage, you probably wouldn't be driving an SUV...and if you were concerned with both costs and mileage, you sure wouldn't have bought a hybrid SUV.


Again, completely disagree.

I drive an SUV (technically, the Highlander is a crossover since it's built on the Camry chassis) because I like the size/space and safety it provides. I routinely carry 2 or more bicycles and don't want to carry them on a rack because they are very high-end bicycles. So, I need the space of an SUV to carry bicycles, trainers, spare wheels, ice chest, pump, uniforms, helmets, shoes, tools, etc.

With a Highlander hybrid, I get 5-6 MPG more than the non-hybrid, the space I need, the power I want, and the quality of a Toyota.

A hatchback sedan may have worked, but I couldn't find anything in a Honda/Toyota that I liked at the time. The Fit was too small. The CRV/Rav4 too small and underpowered. The Prius too ugly (this was pre-2010), etc.


RE: How is $500 expensive?
By mdogs444 on 12/31/2009 8:13:25 AM , Rating: 2
Again, you're misplacing the point. You don't have to justify your purchase to me or the reasons you like the car. My point is merely stemming from a cost and return factor, thats all. I drive a full size SUV and a full size truck, both new and both get crap mileage. I got them because thats what I wanted, and thats all. But the increase in price for a hybrid crossover still does not justify the price from an increased mpg perspective is all.


RE: How is $500 expensive?
By lelias2k on 1/3/2010 1:40:06 PM , Rating: 2
It is always funny to me how shallow our ROI calculations can be.
First of all, I understand that cars are - most of the time, an emotional purchase.
But what amazes me is how much the "feel good" factor is underestimated. Especially because this "feel good" has much deeper consequences. We are improving our air quality (do you seriously think cigarettes are the ONLY cause of lung cancer?), we're reducing our dependence on foreign oil, we're trying to reduce the overall impact that we have on this planet - which I will admit we have a long way to go, but it's a start.
But when somebody says that they're buying a car because of these factors they are often mocked for overpaying for something that under performs.
We all want to live better in a better planet, but it's never our responsibility to make this happen...

PS: Sorry if the rant is misplaced. It wasn't directed at anyone in particular.


RE: How is $500 expensive?
By Spuke on 12/30/2009 2:11:03 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
My Highlander hybrid is getting 26 MPG combined.
My bro in law bought a Highlander late last year and could not justify the nearly $12k increase in price and mediocre increase in gas mileage over the regular Highlander. His other car is a Camry Hybrid btw.


RE: How is $500 expensive?
By microslice on 12/30/2009 6:36:51 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
My bro in law bought a Highlander late last year and could not justify the nearly $12k increase in price and mediocre increase in gas mileage over the regular Highlander. His other car is a Camry Hybrid btw.


Hmm, $12k seems way off. I'm pretty sure the premium I paid for the hybrid was approx. $2k. He must have been looking at a non-hybrid with the base packages vs. the hybrid fully loaded.

For $2k, the added gas mileage and power was worth it to me.


RE: How is $500 expensive?
By Keeir on 12/31/2009 12:29:23 AM , Rating: 2
Sigh... the Toyota site is live you know?

The problem with looking at Hybrids is that its often hard to find a comparable model of non-hybrid.

Different packages and capabilities make the Highlander especially difficult.

Two things stand out to me though...

#1. "Electric 4 wheel drive" is alot different than permanent 4 wheel drive

#2. Towing capacity of 3,500 lbs for the Hybrid is the same as the 4 cylinder Highlander and not the 6 cylinder Higlander (at 5,000 lbs)

Since Towing and "Ruggedness" are two reasons to get an SUV, the Highlander Hybrid is more like a slightly upgraded in terms of power 4-cylinder Highlander rather than a compeditor to a 4WD 6 cylinder model.

When I equip the standard Highlander to a level very close to the Standard Higlander Hybrid I get a premium of more than 6,000 dollars and an EPA estimated difference of 3 MPG or ~ 0.5 gal per 100 miles.

Over 150,000 miles, thats around 750 gallons or a premium (upfrount) of approx 8 dollars a gallon saved.

Now, I am fully aware that doesn't project the full story. And "limited" 4 wheel drive that doesn't work well in the cold may have significant value to a specific consumer. Or a slightly higher level of performance/comfort while driving... but its hard to argue that the the Highlander Hybrid makes sense economically if your primarly interested in on-road driving with space.

As to the Start/Stop system... its only going to make sense for some drivers. Truth is that in the US, outside of a few cities with very bad traffic, start and stop may not make economic sense. Start/Stop only helps if you can turn the engine off for a certain length of time. The average US driving in extremely cold or hot weather will have a significant length of "shut-off" time (due to high accessory loads) which will likely not be met more than once or twice a driving instance. (Remember, the majority of drivers live in the suburbs where short stop lights and stop signs are the most common type of traffic stop)

Changing an EPA test to make a technology look better seems stupid. First prove that most drivers actually do stop longer periods of time and incorporate -that- into the test.


RE: How is $500 expensive?
By Spuke on 12/31/2009 12:17:23 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
When I equip the standard Highlander to a level very close to the Standard Higlander Hybrid I get a premium of more than 6,000 dollars and an EPA estimated difference of 3 MPG or ~ 0.5 gal per 100 miles.
Thanks, you explained it very well.


RE: How is $500 expensive?
By tastyratz on 12/30/2009 10:53:34 AM , Rating: 3
$500 is a lot on the purchase of a new car. 500 here, 500 there.... and the car is then a few thousand above its competitors.
Business practice is not to give customers something out of good will - and without any proof how can it be anything but?
That $500 could easily go to something else that is of more obvious up front apparent value to a customer on a test drive

I would love to see this given a fair chance in the usa.
How does the up front cost compare to cost over the lifetime? I am sure it probably saves more in gas than it takes to replace parts... but for curiosity does anyone know just how much service life are we talking for starters, batteries, etc?


RE: How is $500 expensive?
By 1sick70 on 1/3/2010 11:50:28 AM , Rating: 2
While everyone is bickering about the cost.....I am more concerned with the slant on the articles headline. This technology has been here for years, General motors used it since around 2002. What do you mean finally? Saturn used the hell out of this technology in the VUE....saddly they are now kaput but you get the picture. Oh and the savings on a real world scale are closer to 3%....but why let the facts get in the way!


“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads














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