Stop-start tech saves fuel, so why can't we get it in the States? Blame the EPA - Lexus IS Forum
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-28-2009, 06:21 PM Thread Starter
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Stop-start tech saves fuel, so why can't we get it in the States? Blame the EPA

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Originally Posted by AutoBlog
Are there any among us that wouldn't prefer a meaningful boost in fuel mileage from our current car or truck, all other things being equal? Sure. And the good news is that there are a couple of easy ways to achieve that laudable goal, starting with adding stop/start technology to the car's powerplant.

In case you're not familiar with the fuel-saving tech, we're basically just talking about automatically shutting off the engine when it's not needed, which requires little more than some computer controls along with a slightly more powerful battery and starter motor (though some systems are admittedly more complex). Not exactly rocket science, but at an estimated cost of $500 per vehicle, it does cost a rather substantial amount. Either way, it does sound pretty intriguing, right? So, why don't we see more of these cars in the States?

You can add head Mazda engineer Robert Davis to the list of those who think stop/start should spread throughout the States and according to Automotive News, and he's got a theory as to why it hasn't: the Environmental Protection Agency's fuel economy testing procedures. Naturally, an engine needs a chance to idle for the stop/start-equipped car's computer to switch it off, and the EPA's current test cycle only allows that to happen one single time.

We don't know about you... but our city driving patterns usually include way more than one single stop. By way of comparison, the Japanese city cycle is programmed to allow the engine to idle much more and cars with stop/start technology boast a significant mileage improvement – from seven to nine percent, according to Davis. Besides, most of the start/stop systems we've sampled on foreign-market cars include an override button for those who find the technology objectionable.

So, if there's a problem with the way the technology jibes with the government's testing methodology, what's the solution? The EPA is currently accepting public comment and is seeking input on how to modify its fuel mileage testing procedures. Davis is calling for an "industry wide" agreement on a procedure that would help highlight the benefits of stop/start technology. Is that the right direction to go?
REPORT: Stop-start tech saves fuel, so why can't we get it in the States? Blame the EPA — Autoblog

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did he just suicide bomb our f^*@*#^ parking lot?
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-30-2009, 09:08 AM
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Ok, so lets pretend you take a car,(regular petrol or diesel, NOT a hybrid) and install engine stop/ start on it with no other modifications as suggested. How many of you are willing to have your A/C stop blowing cold as the compressor is no longer spinning? Of course there are ways around that with a exspensive electric A/C compressor. How bout your heat in the winter...want that to keep running? well, now you need a electric waterpump to keep warm coolant circulating. What about at night, with the headlighs, the blower fan, the rear defoger, and the 14 speaker radio we've grown to love and want, all sucking the life out of the battery. How long can that sit without running? These problems can all be worked around, but don't fool yourself into thinking it will be done for under 500 bucks.

Nevermind the hesitation off the line as the engine starts up, or the obvious wear and tear the starter will go through. This technology would be good for eco geek type cars, but for those who want the car to respond, as soon as the throttle is hit, or enjoy being comfortable in the car's cabin, there are other ways. No thanks, I'll just dump an extra gallon of petrol in the tank and keep it running.

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Last edited by Lextech1; 12-30-2009 at 09:13 AM.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-30-2009, 02:01 PM
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Interesting points and counterpoints.

On paper, stop/start would be a relatively simple and economical way for carmakers to achieve much of a mild hybrid's benefits at a fraction of the cost and mechanical complexity. Yet, most attempts at mild hybrid technology in the U.S. (Honda and Saturn hybrids come to mind) have ranged from just barely successful to outright bombs, and Lextech's comments about added battery loads, increased mechanical complexity versus non-stop/start vehicles and climate control shutting down are certainly valid concerns.

Good to hear that the EPA is soliciting commentary on the subject, and I'm VERY curious to see how they'll ultimately come down on this issue.

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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-30-2009, 02:50 PM
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To counter Lextech1's point mildly, I think this article is looking at implementing this procedure on new upcoming cars. It makes sense that cars already in production or on the roads will not benefit from this cost effective-wise.
However if you take into consideration the reason why an alternator in a particular vehicle outputs a certain wattage is calculated based on the vehicles needs, having a bigger alternator in such car will not raise the price much at all, a dual mechanical/electronic powered or just a electronic powered AC units should not raise prices much especially since the technology is already available and being used in $20K cars etc etc

For the EPA to be involved, the car has to be new so the cost effectiveness on a used/older car is moot. I am betting it will be cheaper to address Lextech's issues on a newly designed car than say redesigning the Toyota Avalon's engine from a 3.0/220HP to 3.5/270hp output, meet emissions and durability standards yet Toyota did it and a host of other things and reduced the base price of the newly redesigned car.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-31-2009, 07:37 AM
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For the record, here's the original Automotive News article that led to Autoblog's write-up:

Stop-start saves fuel -- but not here; critics blame EPA test
by Mark Rechtin

Robert Davis, Mazda's top product-development executive in North America, wants to give stop-start a jump-start.

He says U.S. testing regulations prevent automakers from introducing fuel-saving technologies to this market.

In this case, stop-start technology, also known as idle-stop, has spread throughout the world -- just not here. The reason: The U.S. fuel economy testing cycle does not allow stop-start to work its magic, which means the miles per gallon benefit is not reflected in the official ratings.

7% fuel savings
With stop-start, the car's engine is shut off when the vehicle is stopped and the driver applies the brakes. Releasing the brakes and touching the accelerator fire up the engine.

The problem: The EPA city-mode test cycle includes only one complete vehicle stop, so stop-start technology registers only a 0.1- or 0.2-mpg improvement, Davis said.

Since stop-start costs money to install, there's no marketing magic that will persuade people to pay the extra $500 Mazda would charge for the fuel economy gains that the EPA says don't exist.

"In Japan, we're seeing anywhere from 7 to 9 percent fuel economy gains from it," Davis said. "That's a jump from 33 to 37 miles per gallon in a metro environment."

He said Japanese consumers are so smitten with the technology that Mazda is selling nearly half of its Axela (Mazda3) and Biante (a small van) units with stop-start.

Relief could be on the way. The EPA is taking public comment on rule changes that could give cars with stop-start higher fuel economy ratings. A decision is expected in April.

Because the EPA is seeking input on its rule-making standards, Davis wants a united lobbying effort for a testing procedure that recognizes the benefits of stop-start.

Davis' pleas are obviously in Mazda's interest, but Mazda is far from the only automaker wanting to bring stop-start technology to the United States.

Volkswagen put start-stop in its Lupo hatchback in 1999, as part of its astounding 75 mpg rating. Since then others have developed systems -- mostly with diesel applications -- but have chosen not to offer them to U.S. customers for the same reason Davis outlined.

Mercedes-Benz has said it will have start-stop available on all engines by 2011 but has made no commitment for this market. This year Hyundai announced plans to bring start-stop to the United States but did not say when.

Audi of America spokesman Christian Bokich said: "We did not realize any savings in U.S. EPA estimates based on required testing cycles."

On hybrids only
Currently, the only vehicles using idle-stop in the United States are hybrids -- such as the Toyota Prius, Honda Insight, Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid and BMW ActiveHybrid X6 -- that use the technology as part of the hybrid powertrain's operating system. There is no U.S.-market vehicle that has stop-start with just an internal combustion engine.

Getting a useful measurement for stop-start's benefit may be easier said than done because Mazda's direct-injection technology works differently from other systems.

"We need to get some agreement," Davis said. "It needs to be industry-wide."

Not sold in this country
These cars are sold overseas with stop-start, but the fuel-saving technology is not available on them in the United States.
• Audi A3 TDI
• BMW 1 series
• BMW 3 series
• Mazda3
• Mini Cooper
• Toyota Yaris

http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dl...312289967/1143

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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-31-2009, 07:39 AM
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Quote:
There is no U.S.-market vehicle that has stop-start with just an internal combustion engine.
Mark Rechtin might be wrong on this. I think that at least one version of the Porsche Panamera is the first non-hybrid in the U.S. with start-stop.

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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-01-2010, 06:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jruhi4 View Post
Mark Rechtin might be wrong on this. I think that at least one version of the Porsche Panamera is the first non-hybrid in the U.S. with start-stop.
^confirmed

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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-07-2010, 11:19 AM
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I question the benefit of this type of system compared to say the setup the LS460 uses. When the car is stopped, the trans is shifted to neutral thereby reducing the engine load to almost nothing. Further, active engine mounts are used, to allow a lower warm engine idle while still maintaining a smooth vibration free interior. All of course done without the driver even noticing. The tiny amount of fuel needed to keep the engine running with no load I feel is easily worth the benefits of smoother ride. I think this is a much more cost effective, and simpler way to go. In order to see significant savings by shutting the engine off, one would have to idle in one spot for prolonged periods of time. How long does the average driver sit in one place?
(I live in Michigan... reoccurring traffic jams are pretty much never happen)
Even at traffic lights you only sit still for 30 seconds or so. Don't most people usually move a few feet at least every min or so in a typical Cali traffic nightmare?

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