Think of it as the automotive equivalent of the futures market.
Ford is planning to offer a new fuel saving option on its upcoming 2013 Fusion sedan that could potentially save you up to $1,100 in gasoline over five years of driving, but you have to pay $295 up front for the opportunity.
Known as Auto Start-Stop, the system turns the engine off when the car isn’t moving, like at a red light, and starts it up again when you take foot off the brake pedal. Hybrid drivers will be familiar with the process, as most gas-electrics already work this way, while owners of some high-end cars like the Porsche Panamera and BMW Z4 may also have the feature in their vehicles.
Lower priced automakers like Mazda and Smart offer a similar feature on their conventional cars in overseas markets, but haven’t yet brought the technology here because the EPA fuel economy testing cycle generally doesn’t take it into account and any real world improvements don’t show up on the cars’ window stickers, making it harder to use as a marketing point.
Ford says Auto Start-Stop should improve overall fuel efficiency of 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder equipped Fusions by 3.5 percent, and up to 10 percent for city and suburban owners faced with a lot of stop and go driving. Unless the EPA adjusts its testing system you’ll have to take its word for it.
The 1.6-liter Fusion is projected to have a highway fuel economy rating of 37 mpg, although official ratings have not been established.
So, do you have a good idea what your driving habits will be like for the next half a decade?
If you think that you do, let us know if you would pay now for the chance to save money down the road.