Daily Archives: September 24, 2014

I've long wondered about the durability impact of automatic start-stop systems

I've long wondered about the durability impact of automatic start-stop systems

When I wrote the press release for Ford about the 2013 Fusion with auto-start-stop, we estimated the $295 option cost would typically be recovered in about 18 months through fuel savings. However if you have to replace a battery that can cost up to $200  in less than two years it eats up most of the potential savings. 

While automakers have adopted more robust batteries and beefed up the starters on cars with auto start-stop, it looks like the batteries are not enjoying the increased cycling caused by all those additional engine starts. This only applies to non-hybrid vehicles like the Ford Fusion, the 2015 +Ford Motor Company F-150 and the Ram 1500. 

Hybrids generally use the high-voltage battery and the electric drive motor to restart the engine. Non-hybrids with start-stop use advanced-glass-matt batteries. But it looks like manufacturers are looking to ultra-capacitors to solve the durability issues. ?

Inefficiencies and durability questions cropping up with now-proliferating stop/start systems could be opening the door for long-promising, but little applied ultracapacitor technology in the light-vehicle market. Ultracaps, long considered too costly for widespread employment in light vehicles, …

Driver’s with Ford SYNC Can Add SIRI Compatibility for $99

All-New 2015 Ford Edge Showcases Technology, Design and Craftsma

Today, Automatic Labs launched an update to the iOS version of the app that works with the company’s $99 vehicle diagnostics dongle that enables Ford drivers with SYNC to use Siri hands-free. Ford hasn’t issued any release about this and Automatic’s blog post is sparse on technical details so I reached out to Ford technology spokeswoman Emily Olin for some details.

First a bit of background on Automatic Labs. In 2012, they launched an app and accompanying bluetooth adapter that plugs into the OBD-II diagnostic port that is built into every new vehicle built since 1996. The app is free and an Android version is also now available but, the adapter $99.

When plugged in, the dongle reads data off the vehicle’s internal communications network just like the diagnostic tools used by technicians at every dealership service department or local garage. The app gets the data and can display all kinds of useful information for drivers such as fuel economy, diagnostic faults and tell you how much you are spending on fuel and how efficiently you are driving. If can even call 911 when an airbag deployed message comes across the network.

The latest trick that Automatic has added with some help from Ford is to read voice commands off the network. When the driver presses the voice command on the steering wheel while the automatic adapter is plugged in, the commands are transmitted to a connect iPhone where the Automatic app then passes them along to Siri for recognition and execution.

According to Olin, no upgrades are required on the vehicle, just the addition of the Automatic adapter. Automatic’s website mentions that an Android update is also forthcoming that will presumably pass the messages to Google Now.

At $99 for the Automatic Labs adapter, you’ll have to decide if Siri in the car is that important to you. However, the upside is that you can use it with existing cars with SYNC and you won’t have to spend tens of thousands on a new car with Siri Eyes-free or CarPlay.