January 24, 2011

Ford adds anti-idling technology to vehicles


Ford is atop a wave of auto manufacturers that will bring technology that eliminates idling to North America. Stop-start technology, which has long been a feature of hybrids, will appear in Ford vehicles starting in 2012.


Stop-start is relatively simple and inexpensive to implement. By adding an enhanced battery and upgraded starter, vehicles can turn off the engine when the brakes are applied or the vehicle comes to a stop. The total cost of a stop-start system can be as low as $300, or $500 or more if a regenerative braking system is also added. Vehicles with stop-start are not considered hybrids because they do not have an electric motor to assist in propulsion.


Ford has not said which models will add stop-start technology, which is used widely in Europe by Ford and most other automakers in that region. Ford claims to have 244 patents related to stop-start technology, which is currently incorporated into the Ka, Mondeo, Focus, C-MAX and Grand C-MAX vehicles in Europe. Ford will move the technology to other markets after North America.


Stop-start has proven to be an economical method of meeting increasingly stringent reductions in diesel NOx and particulate emissions in Europe. The U.S. has not made changes to diesel emissions regulations in many years, and is not likely to do so for several more years. Also, the EPA's drive cycle test used to calculate MPG ratings does not reflect the savings up of to 15 percent from stop-start. With little incentive to do so, automakers until now have kept stop-start from the U.S. market.


Ford Powertrain Communications Manager, Richard Truett, expects the addition of stop-start technology to add 1-2 miles per gallon to the company's vehicles. He said by 2015 up to 90 percent of Ford's nameplates would have stop-start functionality. Truett said the company is "taking the long term view on fuel prices," expecting them to trend higher, and stop-start technology is "low-hanging fruit" for reducing fuel costs.


Stop-start systems are available from the many Tier One automotive suppliers including Bosch, Continental AG, and ZF Friedrichshafen. The first vehicles with stop-start arrived in the U.S. in 2010 from BMW and Porsche. Pike Research projects that sales of vehicles with stop-start technology in North America will grow from 11,000 to more than 2.8 million by 2015 as automakers promote the fuel economy and reduced emissions yielded by eliminating idling.
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