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'Stop-start' system coming to U.S. cars

Sept. 18, 2010 at 5:07 PM   |   Comments

DETROIT, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- A relatively simple and inexpensive fuel-saving technology from Europe will soon be introduced on vehicles in North America, engineers say.

So-called start-stop systems that turn off a car when it is idling and reignite the engine when the driver releases the brake will be coming to the United States and Canada in the next five years, The Detroit News reported.

The technology is widespread in Europe and will be embraced in North America as a tool to meet increasingly stringent fuel-economy and emissions requirements, auto experts say.

"Engineers kill for one-tenth of a mile per gallon," Joe Phillippi of AutoTrends Consulting Inc. said. "In city driving, it would make a huge impact."

Estimates vary, but the consensus is shutting off the engine at a stop can improve fuel economy as much as 15 percent.

Consumer acceptance could be a challenge.

"It is a strange sensation because the engine suddenly turns off," said analyst Stephanie Brinley of EMC Strategic Communications in Troy, Mich. "It is quick and seamless, but you can tell it happens."

Half of the new cars in Europe will have start-stop technology in 2012, and North America will reach that figure in 2016, said Frank Frister, product manager with Bosch North America, one of the companies developing stop-start systems.

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