TO THE EDITOR:
I was sitting in a friend’s car on a bitter-cold Midwest evening. We had driven about 500 feet with the heat on high when we hit a red light. After a second, the stop-start feature kicked in, and the fan practically turned off. My friend yelled, “I hate this!” as I nodded my head in agreement.
I’ve never been a fan of what appears to be one of the most readily visible attempts by the manufacturers to improve fuel mileage. What I don’t understand is why this technology has proliferated so widely when the articles I have read indicate that fuel economy savings can be as low as 2 percent — in laboratory conditions.
In fact, this isn’t a feature that is regularly highlighted as something worth the consumer’s dollar. When Ford switched to turbocharged four-cylinder engines, they made sure to highlight EcoBoost and the associated benefits in many of their ads and press releases. Surely, if the benefits of stop-start were so grand, it would be set in big letters on billboards and TV. But it is not. You’d hardly know a vehicle has this feature until you get to the first red light, at which point you can never forget.
I sincerely hope the manufacturers revisit this feature, as the nearly invisible improvement to fuel economy seems to pale in comparison to the negative feelings consumers get when they sit in a car that automatically turns off.
STUART McCALLUM, Chicago. The writer is an automotive consultant.