Stop-start technology isn't going to stop

Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News.
UPDATED: 6/15/11 8:55 pm ET

Editor's note: Jason Forcier predicted start-stop technology would reach one-third of the global vehicle market in 2017. An earlier version of this blog reported the incorrect year for Forcier's prediction.

Stop-start technology is ready to take off.

While the technology is available today on a handful of models in the United States -- mainly hybrids and plug-in hybrids -- global applications will become mainstream later this decade, according to Jason Forcier, vice president of the automotive unit at battery maker A123 Systems Inc.

Forcier, citing a study, said "over one-third of the global vehicle market will have start-stop by 2017" and the feature will expand in the coming years. He spoke today at the Automotive News Green Car Conference in suburban Detroit.

A stop-start system shuts off the engine if a vehicle is not moving, such as while waiting for a green traffic light. The engine restarts when the driver releases his foot from the brake pedal.

Additionally, the system may shut off the engine when the vehicle is coasting, such as when approaching a traffic stop. A powerful battery provides electricity to the accessories when the engine is off.

Ford Motor Co. offers the feature on some vehicles sold in Europe and next year will offer it on several unnamed North American vehicles. The feature is expected to be available on most Ford nameplates by 2015. A 10 percent mpg increase is expected in city driving and 5 percent overall.

General Motors is introducing stop-start on its 2012 Buick Regal and LaCrosse models this summer, and on the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu next year.

The headlines today are filled with hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles. But there will be smaller, less expensive steps to boost fuel economy such as start-stop that will become mainstream, too.

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