wants to weigh how much U.S. consumers are willing to embrace stop/start technology by offering its system on the upcoming ’13 Fusion midsize sedan, a top marketer says.
Stop/start will be offered as a stand-alone $295 option on new Fusion models equipped with a 1.6L direct-injected turbocharged EcoBoost engine.
If stop/start proves to be a popular feature,will migrate the technology to other vehicles in its North American lineup, Samantha Hoyt, Fusion marketing manager, tells WardsAuto.
The system can provide up to 10 mpg (23.5 L/100 km) in fuel savings during congested traffic conditions, but on average will save about 3 mpg (78.4 L/100 km), Hoyt says. The Fusion with the 1.6L EcoBoost is expected to deliver 37 mpg (6.3 L/100 km) on the highway.
A study by the U.S. Department of Treasury finds traffic congestion resulted in the consumption of 1.9 billion gallons (7.1 billion L) of fuel last year, or 5% of all gasoline used in the U.S.
Ford says its stop/start system will help drivers save as much as $1,100 over five years at today’s fuel prices by cutting the use of fuel when the vehicle is at a stand still.
The auto maker offers a similar system in Europe on vehicles equipped with a manual transmission, but this will be the first time stop/start technology has been offered in North America and the first time with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
Hoyt says Ford expects a take rate of about 20%. Offering the stop/start system as a standalone option, rather than bundling it with a pricey optional package, should help drive demand, she says.
But to achieve the targeted take rate, the auto maker must educate U.S. consumers on the merits of the system. To get the word out, Ford is providing its dealers with “education modules” that will be used to instruct customers on how stop/start works and the savings they can realize by ordering the option.
“In the U.S., people who have owned or have driven hybrids are familiar with it, but others are not as familiar,” she says. “So it’s imperative we educate consumers and dealers on its features, benefits and on how it operates.”
Hoyt says the system works seamlessly, and drivers will barely notice when it shuts down the engine at stops and restarts when the brake pedal is lifted. The system activates at almost every stop, but will keep the engine running if necessary, such as when the air conditioner or heater is on.
“If it is real cold or hot (outside), it will operate so it can protect occupants from temperature changes,” she says.
Ford says none of its competitors in the segment, with the exception of hybrid and mild hybrids, offers a stop/start system.