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AAA predicts spread of stop-start engine systems

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Aug. 13, 2012—AAA projects that more than eight million light vehicles in North America will be equipped with stop-start engine systems by 2017.

The stop-start system is a technology that shuts off a vehicle's engine when it is stopped in traffic or waiting at a red light, AAA said. With automatic transmission vehicles, engine shutdown occurs when the vehicle is stopped for several seconds with the brake pedal applied. With manual transmission vehicles, shutdown takes place when the transmission is in neutral and the clutch is release_notesd. The engine restarts automatically when the brake pedal is released or when the clutch pedal is depressed.

The system allows vehicles to improve fuel economy by up to 12 percent and reduce exhaust emissions, AAA said. The technology is also known as idle elimination, idle-stop-go and micro-hybrid.

AAA said the stop-start system was initially developed in the 1980’s. More than 40 percent of vehicles sold in Europe and Japan already use the technology.

"Engine stop-start isn't a brand new technology, but the latest systems benefit from significant advances made in the last few years," said John Nielsen, director of automotive engineering and repair for AAA. "This technology is only going to gain momentum as vehicle manufacturers work to meet the more stringent Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards set for 2016."

AAA’s Automotive Engineering team, based at the association’s national office in Heathrow, Fla., said several vehicles sold in the U.S. already offer stop-start systems as a standard feature. The technology is included in all hybrid cars, as well as 2012 models of BMW, Mercedes and Porsche vehicles. Stop-start systems are also available on Jaguar’s 2013 models.

AAA said the technology will soon appear on other auto manufacturers’ vehicles, such as Ford and Kia.

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