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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 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.

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