With increasingly stringent mileage standards coming down the pike over the next decade, automakers are frantically racing to find ways to boost the fuel economy of their vehicles. A new study suggests that “Stop-Start” technology — which shuts an engine off, rather than idling — can reduce fuel consumption by 5 percent to 7 percent. And it achieves a similar reduction in the production of global-warming CO2 emissions, according to research by the AAA. “Up to 7 percent improved fuel economy can mean a $179 annual fuel savings for consumers,” says Greg Brannon, director of AAA’s Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations team. The auto club based its estimate on a motorist driving 15,000 miles a year in a vehicle averaging 20 mpg, with fuel prices running $3.65 a gallon. The financial benefits of Stop-Start decline when the technology is used on vehicles already getting better mileage, and some makers say the fuel savings are closer to 1-3 percent. Navigant Research says Stop-Start was used on just 500,000 vehicles sold in the U.S. last year but estimates that will reach 7 million by 2022.
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-Paul A. Eisenstein, The Detroit Bureau