As automakers stretch to improve fuel economy, consumers will face all sorts of new technology including one that will take some getting used to because it shuts the engine down at red-lights.

As many as 8 million vehicles sold in the United States will have the so-called "stop-start "technology by 2017, according to a study released by Lux Research, an independent research firm that monitors emerging technologies.

Stop-start systems are common in Europe, which has long been ahead of the U.S. on fuel efficiency, but so far it is in only a few vehicles in the U.S. Is it worth it? Start-stop can improve fuel economy by as much as 12 percent, according to AAA.

Here's how it works: Start-stop technology can power down a car's engine when it's idling or when the brakes are applied, such as at a red-light, and returns power in time for acceleration.

The technology itself is not new - some trucks have used it for two decades. But automakers have advanced it as they search for ways to comply with the 34.1 miles-per-gallon Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard that goes into effect in 2016.

"This technology is only going to gain momentum," said John Nielsen, AAA's Director of Automotive Engineering and Repair.

More than 40 percent of vehicles sold in Europe and Japan already use start-stop technology, according to AAA. In the U.S., hybrid cars offer stop-start, and in 2012, a few luxury automakers began offering it in conventional vehicles, notably the BMW 3-series. Kia has also rolling it into the Soul and Rio at the lower end of the price ladder.

While many automakers, such as BMW and Porsche, offer it as standard equipment, others, like Ford, are offering it as an add-on. The 2013 Ford Fusion, for example, will come with a start-stop option priced at $295.

Consumers can expect to save an average of $167 per year, the study says, based on 12,000 miles driven per year and $3.75 per gallon prices with an average of 20 mpgs.

Whether or not consumers accept the technology may be another matter. In some vehicles, the start-stop system operates so seamlessly, the driver may not notice it at all. In others, the lag between starting and stopping is more pronounced. AOL Autos has tested different systems, and has found, for example, that General Motors system, found on the Chevy Malibu Eco and Buick LaCrosse eAssist works almost invisibly, while the system on the BMW 3 Series was a little more pronounced and even rough.

The automakers, as well as dealers, are challenged to educate buyers about how it works. At first, it can be disconcerting, to feel the car's engine go off and then come back on at a red-light, especially for seniors who have been driving for many decades.

"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 what it's on their car," Rebecca Lindland, chief of auto industry analysis at HIS Global Insight, said.


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  • 457 Comments
      genowhitaker
      • 2 Years Ago
      OMG I am so sick of the constant negativity. The only thing it is doing is keeping you all unhappy. Start-stop technology is used by almost every car manufacturer in Europe-from smart up to BMW and Mercedes and every price level in between. And what about the start-stop technology on the current Buick LaCrosse already? Oh, but that is "socialist", oh I don't like "being told what to do". I don't like enriching Oil Companies and making Saudi princes rich so they can fund terrorists, so I like the idea of improving mpg on automobiles. Sorry if that is tooooo positive for the rest of you.
        rohlemeyer
        • 2 Years Ago
        @genowhitaker
        If we build the Keystone Pipeline and exploit our own vast oil resources through things like fracking, we won't have to "make Saudi Princes rich."
      jacksonville Fl
      • 2 Years Ago
      Just another way this goverment will control our life.
      Hello Butch
      • 2 Years Ago
      The GOP and oil co. sure will be pissed off.
      flyingfortresb17
      • 2 Years Ago
      Give me a good old Chevrolet Malibu 396 Supersport with a fuel injected engine 4:11 positrac rearend. Gold in color with black stripping.
      • 2 Years Ago
      A LOT of fuel can be saved when slowing gradually to a stop and NOT performing 'jack rabbit' starts. Hello? Many drivers seem to be in such a hurry, slow down and save some fuel. Try it, you will be amazed...
      fecoyle
      • 2 Years Ago
      Another goodie coming from the Goverment.Probably will work as good as the Post Office & obama care
      • 2 Years Ago
      what about all the gas that's wasted by people sitting at left turn red lights when there is NO oncoming traffic in sight?
      shmtnmusic
      • 2 Years Ago
      I recently was in Germany and rented a BMW 320 D. Very nice car. I pulled out of the lot and when I got to the first stop light the car turned off. Scared the crap out of me. I didn't know what I did wrong. I was looking to see if I turned the key by mistake. The moment I took my foot off the brake the engine came back on. Ohhhhh, that's start stop. Phew.
      alfredschrader
      • 2 Years Ago
      Amazingly, I already have the technology to get 90 mpg without using cockamame engine restart schemes. Funny, none of the manufacturers will buy it from me.
      ronband
      • 2 Years Ago
      Start-stop technology is hardly new. My 2010 Prius is a dream to drive and after a few days of getting used to the silence, I think that all cars should use this. They do need to couple it with a battery and small electric tortion motor for exceleration after the stop. It is amazing how much better the mileage is. I go from 18mpg on my 8 cylinder truck to 52- 60 on the Prius. If the Prius had a towing feature, my truck would be gone. I went from 350.00 gasoline bill per month to about 80.00. I know, when the battery has to be replaced, I will be looking at several thousand dollars, but by then the batteries will have come down in price. They have already moved from 7k to about 3k and I suspect they will be less than 2K in a year or two.
      Faith
      • 2 Years Ago
      Scooter Skateboard Roller Skates Vespa Bike now here is the top 5 for a small city or large. Pick up a friend, they use to drive us nuts with ride share, what happen, you don't want to ride some stranger home, stranger danger.
      • 2 Years Ago
      so we shut off the engine at red lights and it will save fuel but what about all of the time and gas wasted at red lights when there are no cars waiting at that light? should be motion/object sensor technology to switch lights when no traffic is waiting
        armyfieldmedic
        • 2 Years Ago
        Sounds you either: 1. Drive on a lot of secondary roads that lead to intersections with main roads or 2. Live in a smaller city/town doesn't have the budget for a more advanced system
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