Ford Expands Start-Stop Tech To Gasoline-Powered Vehicles

Ford has just announced a European-born gizmo that will make its way over the Atlantic. Even though it’s not the vaunted Ford Focus RS, it will increase fuel economy and cut down on tailpipe emissions.

We’re, of course, referring to Start-Stop — a technology that shuts off a vehicle’s engine during idle and turns the powerplant back on when the driver steps on the gas pedal. The system, which will deliver fuel economy increases between 4 and 10 percent — according to Ford’s estimates, has been available on the ECOnetic models of the Ford Ka and Mondeo in Europe, and is now launching on the Focus, C-MAX and Grand C-MAX. A similar system has been available on the hybrid variants of the Escape and Fusion in North America.

Covered by 244 worldwide patents, Ford’s version of Auto Start-Stop will make its North American debut on a concept at the Detroit Auto Show in January and will appear in vehicles equipped with four-cylinder engines starting with the 2012 model year. According to the Blue Oval, the system works very fast, is extremely seamless, and most drivers won’t even notice the system working… they will, however, notice its benefits in lower fuel bills. Drivers will see a light on the dash indicating that the engine is off, along with a special tachometer that will move the needle to a green zone when the engine is not running.

Those who’ve had the opportunity to experience an earlier version of a Start-Stop system may be well familiar that older designs have two problems: they’re expensive to maintain and result in the shut-off of cabin HVAC components. This will not be the case with Ford’s new set-up, since Auto Start-Stop system does not require any additional vehicle maintenance — using an enhanced 12-volt car battery and an upgraded starter motor. To alleviate concerns associated with decreased cabin comfort of passengers, the system makes use of an electric pump that keeps engine coolant circulating through the heater — providing passengers with extra comfort, staying warm in cold weather. Now if Ford could think about bringing the next-generation Focus RS and S-MAX over to the States, we’d have the ultimate Ford lineup — like… ever!



* Ford’s Auto Start-Stop system will be available for North American cars and utilities in 2012
* Ford’s Auto Start-Stop system boosts city fuel economy between 4 and 10 percent
* Since 2004, Ford has sold more than 170,000 hybrid vehicles in North America with start-stop and is the leading domestic producer of the systems
* Ford has at least 244 worldwide patents on its Auto Start-Stop technology, proven on hybrids and soon to be added on cars, crossovers and SUVs in North America

DEARBORN, Mich., Dec. 27, 2010 – Ford’s popular fuel-saving technology that automatically shuts off the engine when the vehicle comes to a stop – a feature found today on the Ford Fusion Hybrid and Ford Escape Hybrid and some Ford cars in Europe – will soon be added to conventional cars, crossovers and SUVs in North America.

Ford’s patented new Auto Start-Stop system for gasoline engines will improve fuel economy for most drivers by at least 4 percent. The gain can be as high as 10 percent for some drivers, depending on vehicle size and usage. It can also reduce tailpipe emissions to zero while the vehicle is stationary or waiting at a stoplight. Ford has more than 244 patents for its Auto Start-Stop technology and will showcase the feature on a concept in January at the North American International Auto Show.

Auto Start-Stop is the latest example of Ford moving aggressively to bring affordable advanced fuel-saving technologies to all customers. Ford has already introduced electric power steering, dual-clutch PowerShift six-speed transmissions and other fuel-saving features as part of the company’s commitment to lead or be among the leaders in fuel economy in every segment.

Ford’s global Auto Start-Stop technology is smooth, quiet and seamless, and it requires no changes to the driver’s behavior. In city driving when the vehicle is stopped, the engine restarts the instant the driver’s foot leaves the brake pedal. When the engine is off, all of the vehicle’s accessories function normally.

“For the driver, Ford Auto Start-Stop provides extra fuel efficiency without inconvenience, as it works completely automatically,” said Barb Samardzich, Ford vice president of Powertrain engineering. “And, just like in our hybrid vehicles, the heater and air conditioner work as normal so drivers will not sacrifice comfort.”

The global rollout of Auto Start-Stop is under way in Europe. The system, designed to work on both gasoline and diesel engines, is standard on the ECOnetic models of the Ford Ka and Mondeo, and is launching now on Focus, C-MAX and Grand C-MAX. The fuel-saving system debuts in North America in 2012 and eventually will be offered in all of Ford’s global markets.

Many North American Ford customers are already familiar with Auto Start-Stop. A similar system has been installed on more than 170,000 gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles Ford has sold since 2004. Ford is the leading domestic producer of start-stop systems. In 2011, the version of Ford’s Auto Start-Stop designed for gasoline-electric powertrains will be on the Escape Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid as well as the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid.

“Many of the same Ford engineers who designed the Auto Start-Stop system used on Ford and Lincoln hybrids are developing the Auto Start-Stop system for non-hybrid vehicles that will be sold around the globe,” said Samardzich.

When Auto Start-Stop debuts in North America, it will be available on gasoline-powered cars and utilities with either a manual or automatic transmission as well as vehicles that use Ford’s patented dual-clutch six-speed automatic transmission.

Ford’s aggressive move to direct-injection EcoBoost™ engines is one of the technologies that enable the Auto Start-Stop system to work seamlessly, Samardzich said. The direct-injection system, which sprays the exact amount of fuel directly into the precise location in the combustion chamber, helps enable extremely fast engine starts, Samardzich explained. The system debuts on four-cylinder engines and will gradually be expanded to vehicles with V6 and V8 engines.

Auto Start-Stop does not require any additional vehicle maintenance. The system uses an enhanced 12-volt automobile battery and upgraded starter motor, said Birgit Sorgenfrei, program manager for Auto Start-Stop.

“Our hybrid owners tell us that start-stop is one of their favorite features,” said Sorgenfrei. “When the engine is off, they know they are saving fuel and reducing emissions.”

The system includes a light on the dash that alerts the driver when the engine is off and a special tachometer that moves the needle to a green zone when the engine is not running.

Ford engineers are making customer comfort a priority in engineering the system. A special electric pump keeps engine coolant circulating through the heater so drivers will stay warm in cold weather, Sorgenfrei said.

“Ford’s start-stop technology conserves fuel and eliminates emissions at every vehicle idle opportunity once customer comfort and convenience are assured – this is good for the environment,” Sorgenfrei said.

Auto Start-Stop is just the latest in a long list of fuel-saving technologies Ford has brought to market in recent years.

Ford’s industry-leading suite of fuel-saving technologies include:

* EcoBoost engines, which combine turbocharging, direct injection and twin independent variable camshaft timing or Ti-VCT, with downsizing to deliver outstanding fuel economy without sacrificing performance
* Improved and highly fuel-efficient TDCi turbo-diesel engines in European models with low emissions and high levels of refinement
* Electric power steering, which eliminates the engine-driven hydraulic pump, lines and fluid
* Six-speed transmissions, which enable engines to run more efficiently by always selecting the best gear for fuel economy
* PowerShift dual-clutch automatic transmission, which efficiently sends the engine’s power through the transmission without relying on a torque converter or hydraulic pumps

In 2011, Ford will be the only manufacturer in North America to offer four vehicles that get 40 mpg or more. Those vehicles, the Ford Fiesta, Ford Focus, Ford Fusion Hybrid and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, are part of a dozen vehicles leading their sales segments in fuel economy, a record no other manufacturer can match.

“Ford Auto Start-Stop works so fast and so seamlessly, most drivers won’t even notice it is there, though they will notice the benefits in their lower fuel bills,” Samardzich said.


Motrolix Founder with a passion for global automotive business strategy.

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