New technology is emerging in cars all the time, and some of it may be easier to adapt to than others. One of the latest pieces of gadgetry is automatic start-stop, which turns off a car’s engine when the driver puts his or her foot on the brake pedal for a prolonged stop. The point is to save gas when you’re not moving.
Drivers in Europe have had it for several years, but it’s just now starting to make its way to the U.S. Evidently, Americans are finding it a little harder to adjust to than their European counterparts, which is why BMW is now letting its dealers deactivate it at the request of owners.
BMW has just sent out a dealership service bulletin to allow owners to have their cars reprogrammed into “Last Driver” mode. On the 2012 BMW 3 Series sedan, much as is the case with with rest of the recently redesigned BMW models, there is a button right next to the engine starter that allows drivers to deactivate auto start-stop. But once the car is turned off, it goes back into a default mode, which reactivates the system. The dealership reprogramming reverses that, allowing the car to keep start-stop turned off until someone manually turns it back on, whether the car has been turned off or not.
Because technology often comes packed in BMW’s M high-performance cars first, Last User mode has been a staple of those vehicles from the start. Those cars typically don’t get the greatest fuel economy anyway. A new BMW 3 Series gets a combined 26 mpg using the start-stop mode. And the EPA requires that mode to be the default for testing, suggesting BMW’s fuel economy numbers could be hurt if it sells the shutoff function as the go-to on the showroom floor.
Here, it’s offered as a consolation for drivers who are still unable to feel comfortable with their cars going on and off constantly. No one said change was easy. That said, it’s going to become widespread over the next few years as stricter fuel economy regulations kick in, so we recommend getting used to it sooner rather than later.