Ford are to roll out Stop-Start on cars in North America from the 2010MY. They hope to offer Stop-Start across the whole Ford range by 2015.
Stop-Start is a relatively simple way for car makers to grab more miles out of every gallon of fuel a car uses by simply turning off the engine when it’s not being used. And it’s a technology that is rapidly spreading from the hybrid sector in to more mainstream cars. And high end stuff too, with Porsche rolling it out on the Cayenne and Panamera.
But Stop-Start does have a cost implication in manufacture. Even relatively simple systems require a bit of extra software and sensors, a bigger battery and a more robust starter. Not a fortune, but money that needs to be spent nonetheless.
That extra cost has been a disincentive for car makers, particularly in the US where the EPA fuel economy tests only incorporate one stationary segment and so fail to show the benefit of Stop-Start in headline economy figures. Which makes it quite hard for car makers to shout its benefits when official figures don’t reflect the claims.
Despite that, Ford has decided to start rolling out Stop-Start in the US as it has started to do on cars in Europe. Starting point for 2012MY cars is likely to be European-style cars such as the Fiesta and Focus, although Ford say they hope to have Stop-Start available across its range by 2015.
It’s a very good move by Ford and will benefit drivers who use their cars a lot in city traffic. But in our experience Stop-Start will only work if you have an auto ‘box or drive like a learner. So if you think you’ll benefit from Stop-Start then pick an auto ‘box where Stop-Start can work a treat. But if you have a manual ‘box you have to have the car in neutral before the Stop-Start kicks in.
And who the hell does that in busy city traffic?