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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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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
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

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 -

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.

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