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Transportation Earth Technology

Ford To Offer Fuel-Saving 'Start-Stop' System 572

Posted by Soulskill
from the eventual-acceleration dept.
Ponca City writes "The Detroit Free Press reports that Ford plans to offer start-stop systems on many cars in 2012 that save fuel by turning an engine off when the vehicle is idling and quickly restart it when the driver releases the brake or steps on the gas pedal, improving fuel economy by 4% to 10%, depending on driving conditions. The system, common in Europe on cars with manual transmissions, is already in use in the US on gasoline-electric hybrids, including the Ford Fusion Hybrid. Automakers have been reluctant to add the feature to cars in the US because the testing method that the Environmental Protection Agency uses to determine fuel efficiency ratings doesn't include many stops and thus doesn't recognize the technology's effectiveness."
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Ford To Offer Fuel-Saving 'Start-Stop' System

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  • Buy a Ford! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 27, 2010 @07:09PM (#34680430)
    Buy a Ford!
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by operagost (62405)
      At least it's not Government Motors.
    • Re:Buy a Ford! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sycodon (149926) on Monday December 27, 2010 @08:12PM (#34681054)

      FORD: Bringing Golf Cart technology to the Masses.

      • Re:Buy a Ford! (Score:5, Informative)

        by afidel (530433) on Monday December 27, 2010 @11:23PM (#34682452)
        Guess you missed the 365HP/350lb ft, 25MPG Taurus SHO with the 3.5 V6 then, eh? Adding this would just improve that fuel economy while costing nothing in performance. Compare it to the 3.7L 305HP/275lb ft Acura TL with the same fuel consumption in a 400lb lighter car. Ford became pretty serious about US fuel economy a couple years ago and they mortgaged the company a couple years ago to achieve it and it's rightfully paying off for them.
  • Cold weather (Score:5, Interesting)

    by E-Sabbath (42104) on Monday December 27, 2010 @07:11PM (#34680452)

    How does this system behave in cold weather? Sometimes, I want the car running for a while, either to power the heater or to just warm up the engine before I take it on the road?

    • Re:Cold weather (Score:5, Informative)

      by lyml (1200795) on Monday December 27, 2010 @07:15PM (#34680494)
      Well we've been using it for a while in Sweden and it's pretty cold up here. No problems so far.
    • by gandhi_2 (1108023)

      The Prius has been doing just fine since the early 2000s.

      And modern engines need no more than 30 seconds of idling to be "warmed up" for driving.

      • Just because the engine is 'warm enough to drive' doesn't mean the car is - my car takes 5-8 mins of running before the heater is warm enough to prevent my breath from causing condensation on the windshield.

        • by belmolis (702863)
          Not to mention the time to melt the ice on the windshield if you live where I do.
        • by Grishnakh (216268)

          What a wuss. Ever heard of a "winter jacket"? Or a "hat"? No wonder we're running out of oil: we insist on wearing short sleeves in subfreezing conditions and burning oil to change the environment to be comfortable, instead of just using the remarkable inventions created by prehistoric man, called "clothes".

          • by ultranova (717540)

            What a wuss. Ever heard of a "winter jacket"? Or a "hat"? No wonder we're running out of oil: we insist on wearing short sleeves in subfreezing conditions and burning oil to change the environment to be comfortable, instead of just using the remarkable inventions created by prehistoric man, called "clothes".

            Keeping the windshield warm enough so that your breath doesn't freeze on it goes beyond mere comfort. Also, the more you're wearing, the harder it is to move; and since most people already suck at drivi

      • by rolfwind (528248)

        And modern engines need no more than 30 seconds of idling to be "warmed up" for driving."

        My 2007 Honda Civic may need 30 seconds for the engine to be ready to pull loads, but in 20 degree fahrenheit weather, it needs 12 minutes at least or I'll be driving around with fogged up glass. (Extremely dangerous).

        Although I would like tips to reduce that somehow.

        • by gandhi_2 (1108023)

          Hmmm. Roll down all the windows?

        • by belmolis (702863)
          Wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose and breathe through your nose as much as possible. Seriously. It is of course a good idea to get the defrost going properly, but if you're in a rush or it isn't working well, you can reduce the amount of water vapor that you exhale.
        • Advice: Move.

          Alt: Get an air cooled bug.

          You'll get used to using an ice scraper to keep a small patch of windshield clear of ice.

          That and keeping the windows down in the extreme cold to vent humid air outside the car.

          Finnish army surplus arctic weather coats aren't that hard to come by.

          I keep mine around for those rare cases when I consider moving back to the arctic tundra.

      • by whoever57 (658626)

        And modern engines need no more than 30 seconds of idling to be "warmed up" for driving.

        But what about the catalytic converter -- that has to be hot before it does anything and I don't think that 30 seconds of running gets it anywhere near hot enough.

        • by Gordonjcp (186804)

          It doesn't matter anyway; catalytic converters don't clean up car exhaust until you've been running at a fairly high power setting for several minutes. On the motorway when you're piling on the coal they work just great but around town they make emissions far worse.

      • by garcia (6573)

        My car battery dies just about every winter because it's driven 1.5 miles to the transit station and 1.5 miles back. That type of driving takes a serious toll on a battery when the temps hover around a balmy -22F for several weeks a year. Will this restart the engine from the battery? If so, will Ford replace it under warranty for having a feature included for those of us who don't idle our cars ever because we take mass transit?

        • by belmolis (702863)
          Many vehicles just won't charge up the battery if driven that way in really cold weather. I've sometimes had to make a point of taking mine for a longer drive to charge up the battery. One alternative might be walking some or all of the time. Another is to buy a battery charger and charge your vehicle from house current at night.
    • by infinite9 (319274)

      How does this system behave in cold weather? Sometimes, I want the car running for a while, either to power the heater or to just warm up the engine before I take it on the road?

      This feature will flop in florida et al. No engine, no a/c.

      • by dkf (304284)

        This feature will flop in florida et al. No engine, no a/c.

        Bet whether the engine is going will depend on the load on the overall system. If the A/C is on full, the load will be enough to justify the engine being on (well, at least a lot of the time; that'll depend on a bunch of other factors such as how well insulated the passenger compartment is and what size of battery is fitted).

    • by Matimus (598096)
      My guess is that in a modern vehicle will do whatever is necessary to perform the enabled functions. Turn on the car, turn up the heat and the computer will run the engine if that is necessary. Once the car is up to the specified temperature the engine will shut off again to preserve power. I suppose they could have missed this use case, but that seems unlikely.
    • Re:Cold weather (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GWBasic (900357) <slashdot@NOsPAm.andrewrondeau.com> on Monday December 27, 2010 @07:39PM (#34680752) Homepage
      My 2003 Civic Hybrid has this feature. The engine doesn't stop in cold weather.
    • How does this system behave in cold weather? Sometimes, I want the car running for a while, either to power the heater or to just warm up the engine before I take it on the road?

      I just drove my Uncle's Prius in 10F (~-12C) weather, and it restarts just fine. Given that Ford obviously knows how that works, I'd think there wouldn't be much of a problem. But yeah, if you need the heater, it's gonna run more. The Prius did that, so again, Ford has the advantage of seeing a problem already solved and starting from there. I know I'm more confident in being able to solve a problem if someone else did it first.

    • http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2374756,00.asp [pcmag.com]

      The coolant pump is electric so that it can be ket running when the engine is off. The 100C coolant that runs through the heating coil doesn't cool significantly in the time you would spend at a traffic light.

    • um... the engines already hot... since it's been running... so, unless your at the stoplight for 30min and it's 30 bellow out, I don't see it being a problem. Also, it would be pretty easy for them to include a thermostat in the system that re-heats the engine when it drops too low.
  • I've always heard that starting a car uses more gas than a couple minutes on idle. Is that a myth? Mythbusters, wherefore art thou?
    • Re:Fuel-Saving? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lyml (1200795) on Monday December 27, 2010 @07:17PM (#34680506)
      Since it's already been deployed in Europe with great success (although the silence when you stand still at a red light is ominous) Mythbusters seems redundant.
    • by JazzyJ (1995)

      Current method of starting a car may indeed do so. (Mythbusters, find this out!)

      The article mentions 'quickly restarting'.... might involve a different method for starting the vehicle.

      Gosh, I'd hate to think what this would do to your car battery when stuck in NY/LA traffic or something....

    • by gandhi_2 (1108023)

      Remember when we said that about turning off computers?

      • by Culture20 (968837)

        Remember when we said that about turning off computers?

        I slap the wrists of any of my users who shut down "their" machines. Because after they're done with them, it's my turn to do work on them, and not every manufacturer (Apple, esp) knows how to utilize WOL properly (No, Apple, WOL doesn't just mean wake from sleep. We want wake from off-state). When we eventually get around to using idle machines for extra render nodes, there will be public shamings for users that shut down for the night.

    • by TheEyes (1686556)

      I don't remember if Mythbusters did an episode on starting/stopping the engine, but I do know it's a myth that starting and stopping the engine uses more gas than idling. [fcgov.com] It may have been true once, but electronic engine starters are pretty efficient these days.

    • I've heard the same thing about fluorescent lights. But in both cases, it's wrong. The Prius, for example, gets rather incredible mileage because of (not despite) this. There could be increased wear, if the devices in question aren't designed properly, but the Prius handles all the starts and stops just fine. Average cheapo fluorescent lights, on the other hand, tend to burn out quickly if cycled on and off, though.

    • by arbiter1 (1204146)
      would say it would use about the same, But the biggest issue could be is the wear on the starter motor and engine of start and stopping it like that would lead to repair bills and/or lose of fuel economy.
    • by Mr Z (6791)

      I've seen this covered time and time again. In a modern vehicle, if you know you're going to be idling more than 30 seconds or so, it's better for fuel economy to shut it off. The Car Talk [cartalk.com] guys even mention it (little over halfway down).

      Supposedly, with older carbuerated vehicles, you could waste a fair bit of fuel with frequent starts. Modern fuel injection systems don't have that problem, unless you have seriously leaky injectors.

    • Yes, it's a myth. [slate.com] According to this article, the break-even point is somewhere around 10 seconds.
  • How many cycles will a flywheel driving starter motor / solenoid setup last?

    TFA doesn't mention what will be used, but a spring / torsion system that captured the rotational inertia of the engine to stop it, and then used that stored energy to restart the engine would be great for warm restarts.

    • by kimvette (919543)

      Replacing the starter is cheap and easy enough on most engines (with the exception of the LT5, where GM marketing departments bonehead requirements demanded the same bore spacing as the smallblock so the starter sits in the lifter valley underneath the intake plenum - a royal pain in the ass to swap it out). It's certainly much cheaper and easier to replace than the other parts that excessive start/stop cycles will destroy: the bearings, lifters, valves stems, and so on. In other words, the engine will be a

  • by guanxi (216397) on Monday December 27, 2010 @07:18PM (#34680534)

    Automakers have been reluctant to add the feature to cars in the U.S. because the testing method that the Environmental Protection Agency uses to determine fuel efficiency ratings doesn't include many stops and thus doesn't recognize the technology's effectiveness.

    When I asked the question several years ago, a Ford engineer told me that they didn't implement it because non-hybrid cars didn't have enough battery capacity. I know that each start drains a car battery, and then the battery recharges as you drive (even in standard, all-gas-powered, non-hybrid cars). I inferred from his statement that standard car batteries wouldn't recharge quickly enough to provide capacity for frequent restarts. That would make sense; designing that much capacity into standard batteries would be a waste.

    Does anyone know the truth? Was the engineer full of it? Is Ford using higher-capacity and/or faster-charging batteries? Don't tell me to RTFA, because I did and know enough not to take everything at face value.

    • by Ebbesen (166619) on Monday December 27, 2010 @07:24PM (#34680586)

      Well, Volkswagen made the Lupo back in the 90s. It was able to achieve 78 miles to the US gallon with a 1.2L diesel engine.

      So, I guess he's full of it, if the battery pack on the big American cars are unable to store enough energy.

    • As I've sometimes tried to start my car a dozen times or more at a time because of one problem or another, I suspect he's full of it. Not to mention it would be easy enough to implement a battery voltage detection system that disable the system if their is not sufficient charge.

      • by guanxi (216397)

        As I've sometimes tried to start my car a dozen times or more at a time because of one problem or another, I suspect he's full of it. Not to mention it would be easy enough to implement a battery voltage detection system that disable the system if their is not sufficient charge.

        Both good points. I'd also consider that 'Start-Stop' would have to be able to restart the car much more than a dozen times in a trip around the city.

    • by denzo (113290)
      A good deep-cycle battery with a good cold cranking amps rating would be able to handle this just fine. But car manufacturers tend to prefer the cheapest parts possible to get a car on the road, so he was probably speaking more in economics than in possibility.
      • A deep cycle battery is not a good cranking battery. There are three types of chemistries for lead acid:

        Motive Power - this chemistry is most effective at providing enormous amounts of current for very short periods of time, say up to 60 seconds, but usually less than 30. The most common application is starting piston engines. It is generally intended to be drained to not less than 80% of capacity before being recharged.

        Power Supply - this chemistry is designed to provide small amounts of current for lon

    • by GWBasic (900357)

      Does anyone know the truth? Was the engineer full of it? Is Ford using higher-capacity and/or faster-charging batteries? Don't tell me to RTFA, because I did and know enough not to take everything at face value.

      My guess is that it requires a different kind of starter. My 2003 Civic Hybrid has this feature; but the reason why it works is that there's a 15hp dynamo built into the engine block.

  • It is a known fact (maybe not widely known) that a very large propotion of engine wear occurs in the first few seconds after startup. When the engine is stopped, gravity pulls oil back down to the sump, and the oil pump takes thise seconds after startup to redistribute oil around the engine to vital moving parts. I also suspect that will increse the thermal shock loading on the engine, especially as the O rings will suffer a much greater number of heating/cooling cycles than in a regular engine.

    The consp
    • by Gordonjcp (186804)

      When the engine is stopped, gravity pulls oil back down to the sump
      ... if you leave it for several minutes. Stop a car engine and immediately turn the key back on. How long does it take for the oil pressure light to go off? If it's less than about 30 seconds, your engine is badly worn. At that point there's still a good, deep film of oil on the bearing surfaces - there's just no pressure to force more in immediately.

    • Yes, startup from cold. The engine is stopped for brief enough periods to mitigate problems with oil cooling or flowing away from where it's needed. Also, what do you mean by O-rings? I can tell you that the things sealing the pistons against the cylinder are called piston rings. O-rings are usually rubber and they're used in the same situations as gaskets.
    • If it wasn't Ford I'd suggest they had added a small electric oil pump to keep the head wet.

      Given that it is Ford I'd suggest that all they are thinking is 'Start-Stop' will be better then 'Stop-break-leak-fall apart-blow smoke-rust'.

    • by mangu (126918) on Monday December 27, 2010 @08:15PM (#34681088)

      The conspiracy theorist in me says that this is just a way for manufacturers to increase their revenues for ongoing maintenance (as these engines WILL need far more regular maintenance cycles)

      When was the last time you sold a car because the engine had worn out? As opposed to selling it because the body rattles, the upholstery is worn, the doors leak water when it rains, the paint is scratched, the windshield is cracked, plastic parts are broken, the dashboard is crumbling?

    • Um, unless you're running zero weight oil in your car (you're not) ... it doesn't run like water back to the sump in 60 seconds.

      Your "known fact" is sort of correct when a car has been parked for some time (say, overnight) and you're cold starting it. But even that's a bit of a stretch these days with modern synthetic oils. Tear a motor down even after it's been sitting for weeks and you'll still find oil clinging to the bearing surfaces and pistons/cylinders.

  • What is the real goal of this? Is it really to decrease fossil fuel consumption, or is it planned obsolescence, considering that most engine wear occurs during engine start up when oil has drained back into the crankcase? Will all vehicles with this feature be equipped with electrically-driven dry sump systems so the bearings and lifters are already pressurized at start-up?

  • I'd think it should be possible to rig up the flywheel so it can be used to store momentum to restart the engine after a short stop. An electric clutch - normally engaged to keep the engine running when said clutch has broken down - with a soft engage mechanism so the flywheel can smoothly get the crank turning. A modern engine generally starts in the first two or three rotations of the crank, especially when it is already warmed up. Stop the engine while keeping the flywheel running, wait for the lights to

  • It will have a nice round blue logo and when you press it, you can either start your car or select "sleep"...

  • by otis wildflower (4889) on Monday December 27, 2010 @08:56PM (#34681418) Homepage

    What has me interested is seeing electrification of all the accessories (power steering/brakes/AC compressor/etc) that are currently typically driven by belts off of the engine. Besides being more efficient, removing them from the motor reduces drag on the motor and enables higher RPMs, thus more power density. Hopefully, even on 'normal' cars, we'll get to the point where the only things driven from the motor will be the output shaft and the starternator (starter/alternator combo unit, possibly integrated in-line between the engine output shaft and transmission input).

    Hopefully this will help reduce the cost of these components due to economies of scale.

    Who knows, perhaps the early '00s "mild" hybridization will morph into something that's standard across all non-dedicated hybrid vehicles, perhaps even reducing weight overall (starternator, lithium battery replacing lead-acid).

    • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

      What has me interested is seeing electrification of all the accessories (power steering/brakes/AC compressor/etc) that are currently typically driven by belts off of the engine. Besides being more efficient, removing them from the motor reduces drag on the motor and enables higher RPMs, thus more power density. Hopefully, even on 'normal' cars, we'll get to the point where the only things driven from the motor will be the output shaft and the starternator (starter/alternator combo unit, possibly integrated in-line between the engine output shaft and transmission input).

      Hopefully this will help reduce the cost of these components due to economies of scale.

      Who knows, perhaps the early '00s "mild" hybridization will morph into something that's standard across all non-dedicated hybrid vehicles, perhaps even reducing weight overall (starternator, lithium battery replacing lead-acid).

      If an accessory, say a compressor for air conditioning or power steering, requires x amount of horsepower to do it's job when driven by a belt, changing it to an all electric component will still require x amount of horsepower to do the same amount of work. You'll just need a larger alternator which will be harder to spin (require more horsepower) when there is the additional electrical load on it.

      • Belt-driven devices need to be designed to operate with a wide RPM operating range, which reduces their efficiency. Also, the belt is dragging at all times, and limiting the motor's rev range (or requiring even wider RPM ranges for the pumps/compressor) .

        You need higher voltages to get the best efficiency, but presumably you could have a LiIon higher-voltage battery that has a transformer to drive the 'legacy' 12V accessories..

        Also, direct-drive electric motors engineered for a fixed RPM are more reliable

  • by ReallyEvilCanine (991886) on Tuesday December 28, 2010 @05:11AM (#34684200) Homepage
    Ford: inventing today what VW put into production 8 years ago.

It is the quality rather than the quantity that matters. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 B.C. - A.D. 65)

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