Auto start-stop system for $295 in a Ford Fusion is the better deal

2013 Ford Fusion (Ford photo, click to enlarge)

2013 Ford Fusion (Ford photo, click to enlarge)

A continuing and legitimate complaint about fuel saving technology is that it doesn’t save enough fuel to compensate for the cost of the technology. With the auto start-stop system, available on the Ford Fusion for $295, this particular technology could actually pay for itself in a matter of years, and conceivably much sooner for a car driven primarily in urban areas.

An auto start-stop system turns off a car’s engine when the car comes to a stop and would otherwise be idling, and restarts the engine when the driver is ready to go. Ford figures that the auto start-stop Fusion improves fuel efficiency by about 3.5 percent overall. Predominantly city drivers can save up to 10 percent, according to Ford.

Studies indicate that the typical commuter encounters 15 red lights and stop signs on a typical 20 mile commute, which can add 5 to 15 minutes of idle time and wasted gas. Ford calculates that with  gasoline at $4 per gallon, Ford’s auto start-stop engine with the 1.6-liter Ecoboost four cylinder engine  could save as much as $1,100 over five years at today’s fuel prices compared to other midsize cars.

The Ford auto start-stop system works wholly automatically, both in stopping the engine when appropriate, and restarting when the driver releases the brake. The system requires a heavier-duty starter engine and battery, and works only when the engine is at operating temperature and the battery has sufficient charge.

Auto start-stop is typically available only in hybrid automobiles. For this application, Ford requires the 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine. EcoBoost is Ford’s trade name for its engines that combine turbocharging, direct injection and twin independent variable camshaft timing or Ti-VCT, allowing smaller engines to maintain performance while improving fuel economy.

A sunroof typically costs three times the cost of auto start-stop in the Ford Fusion and a sunroof won’t improve miles per gallon. Sounds like the better deal.