2011 Honda InsightEnlarge Photo
Chances are, you don't own a car with start-stop technology. But you will.
For the uninitiated, start-stop is a simple concept: lift your foot from the accelerator and roll your car to a stop, and the engine will shut down. Press the gas again, and it re-ignites. It mirrors a technique used by hypermilers for years, but the car does it automatically, with no learning curve from the driver.
Start-stop can boost a car's fuel efficiency from five to 12 percent, and can work with any engine of any size -- providing a simple way to boost the fuel economy of even some of the least efficient cars on the road.
Case in point: We've felt it at work not just on gas-sipping hybrids, but on the 400-horsepower V-8 under the hood of the Porsche Panamera, where every stoplight-restart sounds like a minor explosion that sends small animals scurrying up trees.
According to parts supplier Johnson Controls Inc., start-stop was found in 8 percent of the cars sold in 2010. That means you probably don't have it.
Ford Auto Start-Stop fact sheetEnlarge Photo
Reuters reports that JCI's Eric Mitchell, who runs the company's power solutions division in Europe, Middle East and Africa, claimed that 70 percent of cars sold in Europe will carry the tech by 2015.
The evolution driving the rise of start-stop is improved battery technology. JCI expects to sell 25 million batteries capable of driving start-stop systems by 2016, up from an earlier claim of 17 million. JCI, it should be noted, sells batteries for start-stop systems.
Other analysts have said they expect start-stop adoption to be slower than JCI's projections.
There could, however, be an unintended consequence to the evolution of start-stop.
Company executives told Reuters, "The expansion of start-stop systems will likely delay the widescale adoption of pure electric vehicles, because consumers can use a fuel-saving alternative without having to contend with different infrastructure."