• Mar 16th 2012 at 2:00PM
  • 470
The 2013 Chevrolet Malibu ECO comes with a stop-start s... The 2013 Chevrolet Malibu ECO comes with a stop-start system (GM).
As I drove the new, redesigned 2012 BMW 335, I came to the place where I needed to make a left turn on a Monterey, CA road. I stopped the sport sedan to wait for oncoming traffic to pass. The engine cut out with a gentle rumble.

A problem? Out of gas? No. It was just the stop-start system kicking in, shutting down the engine and thus gas consumption. When traffic cleared, I stepped on the gas pedal, and the BMW responded immediately with perhaps just a hair of a delay, compared with a Bimmer without the system.

BMW has made the system standard in the new 3, and it will become standard on all BMWs just as it is becoming standard on an increasing number of new models.

The new 2012 Chevy Malibu ECO also sports stop-start. The system works a bit differently than BMW's. I had to strain at stop-lights and left-turn stops to even know that the engine was off. The transition from revving to stop and then to start was so invisible and quiet that I had to double check that the Malibu ECO actually had the system on-board.

The electric motor automatic stop-start system on-board the Malibu ECO, and other vehicles with a similar system, also cuts fuel to the engine entirely upon deceleration for more gas savings.

The technology has been wide spread in gas-electric hybrids but has now moved over to conventional vehicles to improve mileage and lower emissions by shutting off the engine when it's not being used. Instead, the car's systems, such as stereo, heater or air conditioner, gauges, lights and windshield wipers run directly from the battery, while the engine is off.

For some traditionalists, the system will be disconcerting. "There is no question that there are drivers and car buyers who are going to have to be walked through it--how it works and why it is on their car," says Rebecca Lindland, chief of auto industry analysis at IHS Global Insight. Indeed, Chevy and Kia dealers, to name two, have been put through extra training to make test-drives with prospective customers go smoothly for people to whom the technology is brand new.

Indeed, not all stop-start systems are alike. Kia Motors intended to put the system in its 2012 Kia Rio and Kia Soul, but has delayed equipping those cars with the fuel saving tech because journalists reviewing the vehicles criticized Kia's systems for being too rough when shutting down and re-starting. BMW is receiving criticism as well.

Over the next ten to fifteen years, the vast majority of new cars and trucks will adopt the system.

Johnson Controls, a leading supplier of the systems to automakers, says that the number of vehicles equipped with stop-start technology will at least triple within the next five years. Globally, Johnson Controls figures, stop-start tech will be standard in 52 to 55 percent of vehicles built in 2016, up from eight percent in 2010. The automotive supplier forecasts that nearly 25 million vehicles built in 2016 will come with an idle-stop system, up from seven million vehicles in 2011.

How much fuel does it save? Shutting down the engine while idling can reduce fuel consumption and emissions by up to 12 percent in conventional gasoline-powered vehicles. Secondly, in the drive to improve fuel efficiency, stop-start technology has an edge in costs over some of the more advanced fuel-saving systems. It's estimated that idle-stop costs an automaker no more than $1,500 to install, versus $5,900 for an advanced "clean" diesel engine and $6,000 for a full hybrid system.

View Gallery: These Cars Are Conking Out At Red Lights

For more info on car technology, check out our Techsplanations page, where technology is explained. Simply.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      12% of fuel, not bad but as experience would show with hybrids shutting down hot engines frequently will result in sticking intake/exhaust valves due mainly to carbon build up. this can be cleaned but the routine maintenance is more costly than fuel. the updated software released with many hybrids to counteract this only lessen a new problem that comes with new technology. this is also overlooking the idea that these vehicles are going from engine off to a very heavy acceleration when pulling through an intersection or traffic lights etc so again not running to a heavy engine load (this strains engines main crankshaft componentry and secondary valve operating components) companies need to lessen the pressure of overdeveloping new technology or at least put additional emphasis on testing and increasing staff to accomidate if the race to new technology is that important. I would never object to progress, I encourage it but now consumers have invested into these concerns rushed to mass production. sometimes the lowest bidder isnt the way to go when developing, testing and producing new technology. ATTENTION MAJOR AUTOMAKERS-KEEP JOBS IN THE US THIS INDUSTRY FOUNDED WHAT WAS ONCE A GREAT COUNTRY!!!!!
      • 3 Years Ago
      Interesting. Papa www.papatrains.com
      • 3 Years Ago
      My 2011 Porsche Cayenne S has this feature and the salesman just wouldn't stop talking about how wonderful it was. The first time it stopped at a light was extremely off-putting. The Porsche system really is smooth, but I hate the idea and don't like the potential increased start up wear on the engine. Luckily Porsche had insight enough to provide an overide switch. It must not be a very popular feature because Porsche has sent me numerous in depth surveys asking if I use the feature and if not, why not.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Hopefully you tell them you do not because it is stupid to turn a car off in the middle of the road and leave the heater radio etc running on the battery. What happens when you are stuck in traffic behind an accident and the car heater must be kept running for warmth/safety and the battery dies due to the length of time you had to wait.. I have been known to make a certain trip in an hour or less and yet at other times have it take 2 or more for the exact same trip. What happens to the battery then and how does the car restart.
      • 3 Years Ago
      People need to stop whining about what big government is "imposing on them". We all stand to gain economically and environmentally by cars with better fuel efficiency. In France, I drive a VOLVO XC70 D5 with the stop and start system that works perfectly. It starts up as soon as I step on the clutch pedal so there is no lag. The engine has 215 hp and 440 Nm of torque and manage to get about 45 miles/ gallon, because I am not burning all that fuel idling in city traffic. The system can be disconnected with a simple push of a button, and does not have any adverse effect, vis a vis longevity, on the starter nor the battery (it uses a separate alternator/ starter). The system is set not to function in below freezing temperature.
      S M Zagami
      • 3 Years Ago
      I've got something built into my 2011 Honda Accord, that I can't get used to. I was always a two foot driver, right foot on the gas and the other on the brake. If I try to feed gas while my left foot is on the brake, it stalls. I thought it was a problem with just my car, but my son has the exact same car as mine and his car also performs exactly the same. I don't like it. I'll remember this when I test drive my next new car.
      Remarks 208
      • 3 Years Ago
      As long as big brother and the eco freaks continue to meddle with "new" cars, I think I'll stick to my 60's classics and 80's soon-to-be classics. I really do not want to rely on some $0.03 computer chip from some chinese Intel plant to perform as needed for acceleration, or search for a shoe horn in order for my 6'4" body into the drivers seat. Plus I can carry 4 full sets of golf clubs and 5 normal sized people in my 60's classic - and it will blow the doors off anything coming out of gooberment motors today - without breathing hard.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Why not just implement traffic control systems that have cars stopping less often. How may times have you sat waiting for a light to change and no on is coming on the perpendicular street. When, the light does change you notice that a whole slug of traffic has to stop so you can go. The oil companies like this however so invest in a good car stereo, you're hosed.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @justusw, what your talking about are cars that drive themselves, that way they won't sit at stop lights as much. I like to drive my own car..
          • 3 Years Ago
          What Justusw is referring to is the traffic lights not the vehicles. Why am I stopped at an intersection when there is NO cross traffic to speak of? Why do some lights, sans the errent driver, seem to be timed to let maybe 3 cars pass? I agree with justusw in that we should invest in the current traffic infrastructure first.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Dont worry, maybe in the future with computers, we can run stoplights without gettin ticketed cuz our cars will be so smart not to get hit at all!
      • 3 Years Ago
      One concern I have is that at shut down this is unspent and un-burned gas - over lap. I wander over time how that will effect carbon build up. I would like to see a tear down at 100K.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm not totally dissing the technology, and I won't pass judgement until I actually drive a start/stop vehicle...but I just imagine this would be a PITA in bumper to bumper urban traffic jams. Also, wouldn't continually starting/stopping the engine provide extra wear and tear on certain components? Does the oil pump shut down as well?
      • 3 Years Ago
      Government Motors is at it again!.......My father worked for Chevrolet for over 44 years before retiring in 1991. When the feds bought GM, he told us that GM's days are now numbered.
        • 3 Years Ago
        So that is why GM posted it's biggest profits in it's history and toppled Toyota to be come number one again?.... You should check your facts.
          • 3 Years Ago
          mrkoe Because GM didn't pay back the overwhelming loans it received. It paid back the smaller one not the big one. In addition the have a no tax deal for 10 years. Just smoke and mirrors on that profit thing..
          • 3 Years Ago
          Yes, record profits because the government isn't making GM pay income taxes for the next 100 years. The only way this dinosaur will stay in business. If it wasn't for fleet sales to the government they would be in bankruptcy.
      • 3 Years Ago
      wonderful, just wonderful. I'm surprised these "Lords of Automotive Wisdom", allow quick acceleration at all. No thanks....I'll keep my 94' FULL SIZED truck and my 75" FULL SIZED Olds... Tax payor funded GM, can keep it's A.I. munchkin mobiles.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Sounds to me like one more Detroit half-baked idea to help expensive parts and maintenance costs go up -- for the dealer.
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