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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: More than worth it?
By Shadowmaster625 on 12/31/2009 8:01:57 AM , Rating: 2
What if its cold outside? Are you going to sit there in traffic freezing your butt off because your motor stopped and you got no heat? Or if its electric heat, are you going to sit there and constantly drain your battery so that it needs to be replaced every 3 years instead of 5? Add another $20 to the price tag for that. And what if its 96 degrees outside? Good luck trying to run A/C off a battery... Yeah sure you could spike your A/C while the car is moving but then you are placing an extra load on both the motor and the A/C system while the care is trying to accelerate. There goes your fuel economy... Not to mention the lifespan of the coolant. Add another $20 to the price tag for that too. After all is said and done I bet the true average cost of this scam (with interest, amortization, tax, and increased component fatigue) goes over $1000. No one under any driving scenario, even a taxi cab driver, is going to save any money at that rate. Remember, most taxi cabs are bought with corporate debt issued at about an 8% rate. That ups the total cost of this option to well over $1000 not even counting component fatigue. So no, not even taxi companies would profit by purchasing this option. But I'm sure some of them will. (And they should be fired too.)


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