You’ll probably have noticed the new start-stop vehicles with engines that automatically shut down when they are stationary and restart when they are ready to move again. The aim is to reduce the amount of fuel consumed and the emissions produced. And this is a good goal for anyone who wants to save money and be more environmentally friendly. But how effective is this technology in terms of saving fuel and is it worth the expense and effort of changing tech?
How do start-stop engines work?
Start-stop engines are easy to use. The technology senses when the car is stationary, when the brake is being used or the car is out of gear. When the car stops moving the start-stop technology stops fuel from being sent to the ignition and sparking the engine. The engine starts again when the driver pushes the clutch or releases the brake.
Is start-stop technology effective?
With fuel prices constantly on the increase consumers are eager to find ways to save. Are car manufacturers cashing in on this desire by presenting start-stop technology in a way that deliberately overstates its effectiveness? South African Car Magazine conducted an experiment to study the effectiveness of the technology.
In theory, a vehicle with a 1.8 litre diesel engine would use 0.6l/h in the time that it is idle, saving 0.3 litres of fuel in 30 minutes of stationary time. This should have resulted in a saving of R3.45 (at the diesel price at the time) but in the experiment, the vehicle switched off for only 12 minutes for a reduced saving of 69 cents. The author thinks that the engine did not shut off when the vehicle was idle because it had a low battery charge. Whatever the reason, this demonstrates that there is a difference between theoretical and real-life savings for these vehicles.
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