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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: I dont see the fuss
By Keeir on 12/31/2009 2:31:49 AM , Rating: 2
errr... I think your misreading the data also.

For example, look at the City/Urban/Metro of Seattle (a place likely to pay for start/stop and has bad traffic)

Its true that ~2 million live in the "urban" area, but most live in the 500 person per square mile (more than 1 million). Thats what i'd call surburb since we are really talking about 2-3 people per acre counting as an "urban" area.

Metro. is even worse. Sure the average population density of the City is more than 7000 per square mile. But the Metro area minus the city is ~350 per square mile or 1/2 per acre....

Seems like even though 3.3 million might live in the metro area, more like 1-1.5 million live in an area where population density reachs 1,000 per square foot.

I also think you have an elevated opinion of start and stop. Start and Stop, on a convential ICE car, only benifits if the car has been stopped long enough to recope the cost of starting the engine again. In ideal conditions this can be less than 9 seconds (or maybe even less with Mazda's fancy cylinder placement) or more than 30 under less than ideal situations. Start/Stop doesn't make sense for stop signs or lights shorter than 15 seconds long (or that curb lane that is always inching forward). Now driving in the city at rush hour can have significant benifit... but shouldn't it be the manufactures expense to convey the benifit of a technology that is only useful to the consumer under very specific situations? (I know the majority of start and stop would not benifit me, so seeing an additional 8-9% EPA rating would just be frustrating and not tell me which car is actually more efficient)

RE: I dont see the fuss
By Alexstarfire on 12/31/2009 6:25:57 AM , Rating: 2
1,000 per square foot? Pics or it didn't happen. :P

"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher

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