Ford’s popular fuel-saving technology that automatically shuts off the engine when the vehicle comes to a stop — a feature found today on the Ford Fusion Hybrid and Ford Escape Hybrid and some Ford cars in Europe — will soon be added to conventional cars, crossovers and SUVs in North America.
Ford’s patented new Auto Start-Stop system for gasoline engines will improve fuel economy for most drivers by at least 4 percent. The gain can be as high as 10 percent for some drivers, depending on vehicle size and usage. It can also reduce tailpipe emissions to zero while the vehicle is stationary or waiting at a stoplight. Ford has more than 244 patents for its Auto Start-Stop technology and will showcase the feature on a concept in January at the North American International Auto Show.
Auto Start-Stop is the latest example of Ford moving aggressively to bring affordable advanced fuel-saving technologies to all customers. Ford has already introduced electric power steering, dual-clutch PowerShift six-speed transmissions and other fuel-saving features as part of the company’s commitment to lead or be among the leaders in fuel economy in every segment.
Ford’s global Auto Start-Stop technology is smooth, quiet and seamless, and it requires no changes to the driver’s behavior. In city driving when the vehicle is stopped, the engine restarts the instant the driver’s foot leaves the brake pedal. When the engine is off, all of the vehicle’s accessories function normally.
“For the driver, Ford Auto Start-Stop provides extra fuel efficiency without inconvenience, as it works completely automatically,” said Barb Samardzich, Ford vice president of Powertrain engineering. “And, just like in our hybrid vehicles, the heater and air conditioner work as normal so drivers will not sacrifice comfort.”
The global rollout of Auto Start-Stop is under way in Europe. The system, designed to work on both gasoline and diesel engines, is standard on the ECOnetic models of the Ford Ka and Mondeo, and is launching now on Focus, C-MAX and Grand C-MAX. The fuel-saving system debuts in North America in 2012 and eventually will be offered in all of Ford’s global markets.
Many North American Ford customers are already familiar with Auto Start-Stop. A similar system has been installed on more than 170,000 gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles Ford has sold since 2004. Ford is the leading domestic producer of start-stop systems. In 2011, the version of Ford’s Auto Start-Stop designed for gasoline-electric powertrains will be on the Escape Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid as well as the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid.
“Many of the same Ford engineers who designed the Auto Start-Stop system used on Ford and Lincoln hybrids are developing the Auto Start-Stop system for non-hybrid vehicles that will be sold around the globe,” said Samardzich.
When Auto Start-Stop debuts in North America, it will be available on gasoline-powered cars and utilities with either a manual or automatic transmission as well as vehicles that use Ford’s patented dual-clutch six-speed automatic transmission.
Ford’s aggressive move to direct-injection EcoBoost™ engines is one of the technologies that enable the Auto Start-Stop system to work seamlessly, Samardzich said. The direct-injection system, which sprays the exact amount of fuel directly into the precise location in the combustion chamber, helps enable extremely fast engine starts, Samardzich explained. The system debuts on four-cylinder engines and will gradually be expanded to vehicles with V6 and V8 engines.
Auto Start-Stop does not require any additional vehicle maintenance. The system uses an enhanced 12-volt automobile battery and upgraded starter motor, said Birgit Sorgenfrei, program manager for Auto Start-Stop.
“Our hybrid owners tell us that start-stop is one of their favorite features,” said Sorgenfrei. “When the engine is off, they know they are saving fuel and reducing emissions.”
The system includes a light on the dash that alerts the driver when the engine is off and a special tachometer that moves the needle to a green zone when the engine is not running.
Ford engineers are making customer comfort a priority in engineering the system. A special electric pump keeps engine coolant circulating through the heater so drivers will stay warm in cold weather, Sorgenfrei said.
“Ford’s start-stop technology conserves fuel and eliminates emissions at every vehicle idle opportunity once customer comfort and convenience are assured — this is good for the environment,” Sorgenfrei said.
Auto Start-Stop is just the latest in a long list of fuel-saving technologies Ford has brought to market in recent years.
“Ford Auto Start-Stop works so fast and so seamlessly, most drivers won’t even notice it is there, though they will notice the benefits in their lower fuel bills,” Samardzich said.