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Fuel Economy Remains Unknown, But This Tech Can't Hurt

The 2016 Honda Pilot SUV will be the first time the Japanese automakers will use fuel-saving stop-start technology in a non-hybrid vehicle.

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An investigation from Navigant Research predicts less than 50 percent of new vehicles globally will use conventional gasoline-fueled engines by 2017. However, the study's definition even takes turbocharging into account as being outside the norm. The report also estimates that stop/start systems will be in nearly 60 percent of models by 2025.

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The proliferation of start-stop systems in today's cars and trucks is pretty simple to explain. With these systems, manufacturers have an easy, mostly unobtrusive way of boosting a vehicle's fuel economy. As with just about anything though, there are drawbacks to modern start-stop tech.

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That silence you hear? It's a month's worth of payments on the family car-insurance plan not being spent on an idling engine. That's one way to look at new numbers out from the AAA that say stop-start engine technology will save drivers a solid chunk of change in the form of lower refueling costs. If only more automakers would embrace the tech for their vehicles.

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Ford must be desperate to get itself ready for the beach this summer because it is really trying to get into shape. Shortly after unveiling the Lightweight Concept that cut the weight of a Fusion down to that of a Fiesta, it's now the rest of the line's turn for improvement. The company is wrapping up a 10-year research project aimed at developing next-gen automotive batteries to improve efficiency.

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Turns out, your car's engine is useless about a third of the time when you're driving. Bosch is using that math to estimate that the newest generation of its stop-start system could cut a car's overall fuel use by about 10 percent.

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One of the most recent yet notable additions to the modern vehicle's growing suite of fuel-saving technologies is the humble start-stop system. It's rather simple - when the vehicle is stopped, the engine shuts off. It then fires back up when the driver starts to take his foot off the brake or step on the clutch. For one of the most important fuel sippers of the year, though, start-stop tech is a no-go.

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Stop-start battery systems continue to gain traction with automakers. The United States Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC) has now awarded a $2.28 million stop-start development contract to Leyden Energy Inc. of Fremont, CA. USABC is a consortium group made up of Chrysler, Ford and General Motors – and this award was also funded in part by the US Department of Energy (DOE).

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Babies and cars go together like screaming blobs of insomnia and sleep machines. New parents quickly find that nothing soothes an irritable newborn quite like a quick drive around the block, and Volkswagen employed that truth in the company's newest ad for its stop/start technology. The spot follows one new dad as he tries to lull his child to sleep with the burble and purr of his Tiguan TDI. Unfortunately, his efforts are thwarted by the machine's start/stop system at each stop light.

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Lamborghini has announced that its Aventador supercar will now feature cylinder deactivation and stop/start technology, confirming previous reports of the Italian automaker's intent to improve the fuel efficiency of its products.

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It looks like Audi is the latest automaker to equip a car with technology that makes humans look plain ol' dumb by comparison.

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The start/stop feature in the current BMW 3 Series is, by default, activated every time you get in and start the car. If you don't like it, you can deactivate the feature by pressing a button on the dash; however, the next time you turn the car off and start it again (with the key), the start/stop system will kick in.

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The start/stop feature in the current BMW 3 Series is, by default, activated every time you get in and start the car. If you don't like it, you can deactivate the feature by pressing a button on the dash; however, the next time you turn the car off and start it again (with the key), the start/stop system will kick in.

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There were lots of comments on my last two columns (speaking with Ford and Chrysler execs about CAFE regulations), and some were very savvy on EVs and hybrids. But most seem to have little knowledge of what really goes into designing, developing, validating and successfully marketing a desirable, reliable, long-term durable, incredibly complex, affordable and federally legal modern automobile – let alone making an honest buck doing it. But then who would, without substantial industry exper

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The come-hither 2012 Kia Rio has been bolting off dealer lots for obvious reasons that go beyond its $14,350 price. One of its noteworthy features for the U.S. market, especially for the segment, is stop/start, which Kia calls ISG for Idle, Stop & Go. Media feedback, however, has convinced Kia that ISG is not quite ready for prime time, so it's been sent back to the engineers for tweaks.

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After a four-plus-year hiatus, Honda will resume production of minicars (a.k.a. Kei cars, vehicles with engine displacements of 660 cc or less) for Japan. Coming first for the Honda line-up is a yet-to-be unveiled wagon-type minivehicle that's scheduled to roll off the lines this December.

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Johnson Controls announced Wednesday that it's investing $100 million to construct a stop-start automotive battery factory in China. The facility will supply global and local automakers in Asia and is expected to gear up for production in early 2013. Kim Metcalf-Kupres, vice president strategy, sales and marketing at Johnson Controls Power Solutions says China, "will continue to be the fastest growing market for automobiles through the end of this decade."

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Mazda is intent on improving the fuel efficiency of its lineup of vehicles, even if it isn't going full-bore into electric vehicles. For proof, look no further than the automaker's SkyActiv technology. When it comes to the next stage in the company's efficiency plans, the award-winning i-Stop – the Japanese automaker's stop-start system – Mazda says the U.S. isn't ready for this fuel-saving tech quite yet.

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Volvo is methodically adding stop-start technology to its vehicles equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission over in Europe. The stop-start tech, which initially is only available on vehicles with the 2.0-liter D3 turbodiesel engine, cuts CO2 emission by approximately ten grams per kilometer and reduces fuel consumption by 0.4 liter per 100 km.

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According to Dominique Boesch, general manager of FAW-Volkswagen Automotive Company's Audi sales division, German automaker Audi will equip all of its Chinese-made vehicles with mild hybrid technology starting in 2012. If true, then Audi will become the only automaker to make stop-start technology standard on all of its vehicle manufactured in China.

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U.S. automotive supplier Johnson Controls says that, over the next two years, it will nearly triple its investment in two German facilities that manufacture batteries for vehicles equipped with stop-start technology. Alex Molinaroli, head of the Johnson Controls' automotive battery division, told Reuters that, "We will invest 275 million euros ($389 million U.S. at the current exchange rate) in our battery plants in Hanover and Zwickau."

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