The Stop Start revolution

Ford, Vauxhall, Peugeot Citroen and even Kia if they don't already have it they soon will. It seems then, that Stop Start technology will soon be a standard feature across all vehicle manufacturers.

Ford, Vauxhall, Peugeot Citroen and even Kia if they don't already have it they soon will. It seems then, that Stop Start technology will soon be a standard feature across all vehicle manufacturers. An estimated 2.8 million vehicles with stop-start will be made globally in 2010. About 2.5 million of those vehicles will be made in Europe and the rest in Asia. In actual fact the systems are already in use on a multitude of vehicles like the Fiat 500, Audi A5, Land Rover Freelander and Smart. The engine can automatically stop when the vehicle is stationary and re-start on demand without turning the key or pressing a start button. Decreased fuel consumption lower Co2 figures this all sounds to good to be true.

As many of us spend way too much time stationary with the engine burning all our fuel away the Stop Start revolution will save us all huge amounts of money and decrease exhaust emissions. So should we all rush out and purchase one immediately? Well when driven conservatively and operated within the system limitations in a suitable environment there is no question that Stop Start technology will improve your fuel consumption and decrease emissions. So what are these limitations?

As always everything is a trade off and there are limitations to the Stop Start systems, which for some of us will reduce the potential savings. We all take for granted modern vehicle electrical systems such as air conditioning, heated rear window, rear fog lamps and windscreen wipers, yet these are the very systems that prevent the engine from stopping when the Stop Start system is active. In addition to this the stop start system will not operate when the engine is cold or the system detects that the vehicles battery in a low on charge. So depending on how these systems are used will ultimately determine how much the fuel consumption will improve or how much the exhaust emissions are reduced.

Stop Start systems are in their infancy using either a conventional starter motor used by Audi and Land Rover or a reversible alternator used by Peugeot Citroen and Smart. The starter motor has been used to start the combustion engine for decades; however the reversible alternator is a refreshing innovative step forward for the combustion engine which completely removes the starter motor and uses an already existing component called an alternator. The reversible alternator now starts the engine, supplies electrical consumers as well as charging the vehicle battery. This innovative step forward has paved the way for Start Stop technology and as this system evolves the limitations will be vastly reduced to the point where they are no longer considered a limitation. Consumer's demand for cleaner products has never been greater. Green house gas targets and depleting oil reserves are driving government legislation. Start Stop technology is one of these products and I suspect that Stop Start systems will become standard or mandatory for all combustion engines in the very near future.