27 Jan
Sitting in inner-city traffic can have a huge negative impact on efficiency, but can stop-start tech help?

Can stop-start technology save on fuel bills?

Even the most economically minded driver will find one unavoidable obstacle out on the road: Traffic. Sitting on congested roads can be incredibly detrimental on efficiency, as the vehicle's engine essentially burns fuel for no real output.

Consequently, a raft of vehicle manufacturers have been making strides in eliminating the amount of fuel consumed when stationary, thanks to stop-start tech.

Stop-start systems could benefit fuel economy by as much as 12 per cent.

How does stop-start tech work?

Car and Driver explained that Volkswagen were actually the first to fit a stop-start system to a commercially available vehicle back in 1983. Since then, the system's primary function hasn't really changed. Specifically, the car, van or truck can recognise when it is at a stand still, and cuts the engine from idling for too long.

While it is often perceived that turning an engine on and off in quick succession actually burns more petrol or diesel, Car and Driver pointed out that this isn't the case when the unit has already warmed up. 

Stop-start fuel saving

In fact, stop-start tech can actually boost economy figures, and unlock even more value from each tank when filling up with a fuel card. Just how big are the potential savings?

Well, research collated by Edmunds explained that efficiency could be increased by around 3-10 per cent, with some industry experts even estimating that the most innovative stop-start systems could benefit economy by around 12 per cent.

Assessing viability

As with any technologically advanced feature, there is a cost associated with stop-start tech, which may not make it suitable for everyone – especially fleet managers who are working within a tight budget. 

However, many manufacturers are gradually introducing it as a standard feature, so its viability is likely to compound going forward. Moreover, there aren't really any alternatives that can benefit efficiency figures in the same way.

Specifically, simply turning off the engine in traffic using the key can have a similar impact, but it is nowhere near as effective as systems that have been specifically designed for the purpose. Also, switching off the ignition is not always viable, as the driver will temporarily lose the electrics of the car, van or truck as well.

Ultimately, stop-start tech is yet another vehicle innovation that could save both individuals and businesses money. In the case of the latter, in a relatively large fleet, the savings could be considerable if each vehicle does indeed cut its fuel bill by 3-10 per cent.