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The cars of the future are almost here, but unfortunately, they don’t fly. They don’t even hover – thanks for filling my head with false promises, TomorrowLand.
When shopping for a new car, it’s all about fuel efficiency for the savvy consumer. As gas prices continue to rise, buyers definitely want a car that will get more out of each gallon. Automakers are scrambling to improve fuel economy and attract new customers. As a result, we’ll see all sorts of new technology incorporated in to cars over the next few years – including one shuts the engine down at red lights. This could definitely take some getting used to!
Lux Research, an independent research firm that monitors emerging technologies, predicts as many as 8 million vehicles sold in the United States will have the "stop-start "technology within the next five years. Start-stop can improve fuel economy by as much as 12 percent, according to AAA. Stop-start systems are already pretty common in Europe, which is well ahead of the U.S. on fuel efficiency.
The decision to use "stop-start "technology in cars is largely a result of the new 34.1 miles-per-gallon Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard that goes into effect in 2016.
"This technology is only going to gain momentum," said John Nielsen, AAA's Director of Automotive Engineering and Repair.
More than 40 percent of vehicles sold in Europe and Japan already use start-stop technology, according to AAA. In the U.S., hybrid cars offer stop-start, and in 2012, a few luxury automakers (including BMW) began offering it in certain conventional vehicles. Kia has also been trying it out in the Soul and Rio at the lower end of the price ladder. While many automakers, such as BMW and Porsche, offer it as standard equipment, others, like Ford, are offering it as an add-on. The 2013 Ford Fusion, for example, will come with a start-stop option priced at $295.
Consumers can expect to save an average of $167 per year, the study says, based on 12,000 miles driven per year and $3.75 per gallon prices, with an average of 20 miles per gallon.
While the technology seems to have some major advantages in terms of fuel efficiency, whether consumers will embrace it or hate it remains to be seen. In some vehicles, the start-stop system will operate so seamlessly the driver may not even notice it at all. In others, the lag between starting and stopping is more obvious. AOL Autos has tested different systems, and has found, for example, that the General Motors system, found on the Chevy Malibu Eco and Buick LaCrosse, eAssist, works almost invisibly, while the system on the BMW 3 Series was a little more pronounced and even rough.
At first, it can be a little disconcerting to feel the engine shut off and then come back on at a red light, so auto manufacturers and dealers will have to educate buyers on how to use this technology and what the advantages are if they want it to be well-received.
"There is no question that there are drivers and car buyers who are going to have to be walked through it – how it works and what it's on their car," Rebecca Lindland, chief of auto industry analysis at HIS Global Insight, said.
I’m all for saving money at the gas pumps, but I can imagine the issues certain drivers are going to have adjusting to this!