BMW vehicles with start-stop functionality allow drivers to push a button to activate or de-activate the fuel-saving system. Chrysler is planning to introduce similar technology.

As the price of fuel indefinitely heads skyward, big automakers are approaching the need for greater fuel efficiency from several angles. Chrysler’s latest endeavor on this front is to begin offering “start-stop technology” on some of its not-too-distant future vehicles. This system is designed to shut off the engine when the vehicle is stopped and starts it back up when the brake pedal is released.

The expected result is improved fuel economy by about five percent. The feature does not offer the same degree of fuel savings or environmental impact as other technologies—such as full hybrids or some alternative fuels—but it is one more step toward producing greener automobiles. And given the relative low cost of start-stop technology, it could roll out more quickly and widely.

According to Frank Klegon, Chrysler executive vice president of product development, the system will cost several hundred dollars per vehicle and will be introduced “pretty soon.” Chrysler did not provide an exact timetable.

Similar start-stop technology is currently in use—or is planned to be employed—in mild hybrids from General Motors, as well as Smart, Mini-Cooper, and a wide range of BMW vehicles. The term start-stop—also referred to as idle-stop, auto-stop, and stop-start—usually applies to a vehicle that can shut off the engine at a stop, but cannot use stored electric energy for moving forward.


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