Cars that automatically turn off

While watching the latest episode of Top Gear I was reminded of cars which have been designed to turn off when they stop at a robot. This is in an effort to reduce fuel consumption. This kind of functionality has generally been reserved by the green cars of the world, the Toyota Priuses and Volkswage Blue Motions. The cars which are actively trying to reduce their fuel consumption.

Why then does the latest BMW M3 come with this feature? Surely this small feature will be but a blimp on the map of M3 fuel consumption? In theory I don’t really have an issue with this though. Using less petrol is great, better for the environment etc. But there is one specific reason I would not get a car with this function.

Car batteries die. It’s a fact of life. Now the way it generally happens is that you wake up one morning to go to work, and oh no! The car won’t start. Or a slightly larger inconvenience can occur and you’re at the shops and it’s raining. And there’s not enough power left in the battery to start the car. Now this isn’t necessarily as a result of negligence, leaving the lights on etc. But car batteries only have an expected life of 3-4 years.

So my biggest fear with this function is the thought of it not starting again. Stop at the robots, lights green, put the foot on the accelerator and nothing happens. Now it’s not only yourself you’re inconveniencing, it’s the queue of hooting, impatient people behind you. Now you sit in your M3 and wave at all the angry people driving past you as you wait for someone to save you.

Now I’ll put it out there, that BMW might well have thought about this and put some special capacitor, or other energy storing device into the car to ensure that it will always start again. But who knows.