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by Tim Beissmann

Despite its widespread availability across Ford of Europe’s range, and a recent announcement from Ford North America that its cars and trucks will receive the technology from next year, Ford Australia currently has no plans to introduce start-stop engine technology into its range.

Auto Start-Stop is a relatively simple system. Whenever the vehicle comes to a stop and idles, the engine switches off automatically. It is restarted quickly and automatically when the driver re-engages the accelerator.

Ford says the technology could boost urban fuel economy by between four and 10 percent, depending on the size of the vehicle and its engine.

But Ford Australia’s Neil McDonald admitted he was not aware of any timeline for the introduction of the fuel- and emissions-saving system locally.

“There are no plans in the short term to introduce the technology,” Mr McDonald said.

The Auto Start-Stop system will debut in North America on Ford’s new direct-injection four-cylinder EcoBoost engine before expanding to the brand’s V6 and V8 engines.

Ford Australia will add the four-cylinder EcoBoost engine to its Falcon range later this year, but it will not be accompanied by Auto Start-Stop, at least not in the near future.

Mr McDonald said the technology was expected to be “slotted in eventually” for the Falcon, but said at this stage it was still a “wait and see” prospect.

He said the development and engineering required locally was the major impediment to introducing Auto Start-Stop, admitting that Ford Australia was currently “flat out” with other work.

Another reason why Ford cannot add Auto Start-Stop to its local line-up is that, in order to achieve acceptably fast re-starts in traffic, the system requires direct-injection engines – which are currently few and far between in Australia.

Auto Start-Stop is already featured in some models of the Ka, Focus, Mondeo, C-MAX and Grand C-MAX in Europe, and will be added to the Fusion Hybrid, Escape Hybrid and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid in North America this year.

More than 170,000 Ford hybrid vehicles have already been fitted with a similar system in North America since 2004. A Ford US spokesperson recently told Reuters he expected 90 percent of Ford’s line-up to feature Auto Start-Stop by 2015.

When it debuts in North America, the new Auto Start-Stop will be available on petrol-powered cars and utilities with either manual, automatic or dual-clutch transmissions.

The system utilises an electric-powered water pump to circulate coolant when the engine is stopped, upgraded starter motor specially engineered to endure more restarts, stronger ring gear on the engine flywheel and an enhanced 12-volt battery.




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