You come to a stoplight and press the brake pedal and the car suddenly seems surprisingly quiet. As the light turns green and you move your foot back to the throttle you hear a brief rumble from under the hood and pull forward as if nothing had happened. That’s because the vehicle’s stop-start system worked as it was supposed to, briefly powering down your engine instead of idling in order to save gas.
The technology first appeared on the original Honda Insight and Toyota Prius hybrids, a dozen years ago, and is now a standard feature on the growing number of gas-electric vehicles offered in the U.S. market. But a number of manufacturers are starting to add the fuel-saving technology to their more conventional car, truck and crossover lines.
In fact, a new study by the Lux Research estimates stop-start will be offered on as many as 8 million vehicles sold in the U.S. by 2017 – and some forecasters believe it will be even more common in Europe and Japan, where fuel costs justify the technology’s modest price premium.