BMW's engine autostop feature

I've had the experience of driving a BMW X1 this week, as a loaner car. My own car was in the body shop for some damages, so the insurance company sprang for the X1 as my loaner. I was taken a little off-guard
by the engine auto-stop feature when you come to an idling situation, like stoplights, parking, etc. I eventually got used to it, and actually think it may have helped save a lot of gas for me, as I am mostly doing city driving. But even though I liked saving the gas, it seems to me that this would be hard on the batteries, as I noticed that all of the lights and AC remain open during this time. My question is, how does BMW achieve this? Does it have some special batteries, or are they just the conventional lead-acid's?
    Yousuf Khan
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On 11/04/2013 06:18, Yousuf Khan wrote:

Heavy duty batteries, combined with regenerative brakes in my car (Mini). Mine's 60,000 miles/5 years and still going.
I have read that the system is only of benefit if the stop period is above a certain time. There's some research out there somewhere - 30s and up ISTR.
Rob
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On 11/04/2013 08:47, RJH wrote:

Actually, nothing like the regenerative braking as utilised by electric vehicles, it is just "Intelligent Alternator Control". All this does is turn on the alternator during "over-run" or whilst braking, instead of charging all the time. It can be disconcerting to watch the battery voltage fall below 11.8 volts on a longer run, such as on the motorway using cruise control, but this can be counteracted by turning on the side-lights, which then maintains 13+ volts across the system. The stop/start system only functions when the battery has enough charge, the engine is warm and the Air/ Con is not on. Initially, this was only with 4 pot manual cars, recently rolled out across the ranges.
The batteries are known as Absorbant Glass Mat, still lead acid, but these are now known to not be the optimum chemistry for this system. There are many cases of the batteries not lasting for more than three years in certain circumstances.
There is research into carbon / lead acid chemistry for the battery.
David
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On 11/04/2013 8:25 AM, David wrote:

So does the alternator somehow produce a braking force on the engine during this condition?

I haven't noticed the voltage gauge yet, but I don't think I'll have this problem anyway, since I'm in Canada and we have daytime running lights up here. So it'll be producing a constant drain on the electrical system all of the time anyway.

Actually, I found it was still working while the AC was on. At least the AC light was on when I looked at it.
However, today, it suddenly got colder again, hovering around 0C, it's going to snow heavily later tonight, so I noticed that it's automatically disabled the auto-stop feature. I think the manual mentioned that it disables the feature during outside temperatures of less than 37F/3C.

It starts up extremely quickly too, just let go of the brakes and it automatically starts with barely any delay.
    Yousuf Khan
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On 11/04/2013 19:22, Yousuf Khan wrote:

It can be felt as a minor deceleration. A bit more than engine braking The alternator is not turned on instantly, but softly over a period of a few seconds. You wouldn't want a jolt that would strain the belt and other mounts if it suddenly came on.

There isn't as such a voltmeter on the car. The main ECU voltage can be brought up into one of the displays, if you know how to ...

The engine drives the A/C compressor, so if the engine is not running, then the A/C compressor will not run. There are some variables as to whether the A/C operates with regard to outside temperature, internal temp, humidity and 'misting' of the screens et cetera. There may be different programs in different countries.
The latest BMW I have, a 2011 120i, has a different 'Auto' program to the six BMWs I had before it.

Over this this of the pond, Stop/Start would initially only work if the transmission was taken out of gear (remember at first it was on manual shifters only) and the handbrake applied. This may have changed on the very latest cars.
David
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On 12/04/2013 9:06 AM, David wrote:

Now, this is a little strange to me, it was my understanding that the alternator is always on, while the engine is running, so that all electrical activity is run through the alternator, including basics such as ignition through to optionals like lighting and entertainment. Including the recharging of the battery. Are you saying that the alternator is not always being used?

Ok, insider knowledge.

Here in Canada, you can get every climate test available to you within a matter of days, if not hours. A couple of days ago, it was a mild 15C outside. Yesterday, it hovered up and down around 0-5C, and clear. Today, it was below 0C and there was a snowstorm! (How's that for Global Warming?)
During the mild days, the auto-stop worked consistently.
Yesterday, when bouncing between 0-5C, especially once the temperature fell to 3C, you'd hear warning sound inside the car about cold temps, and it would automatically disable auto-stop. You'd see throughout the day while driving when auto-stop was working if it was above 3C, but then disabled again at 3C. As I said, in Canada you get to see in front of your eyes how the computer adjusts to its environmental parameters.
Today, with the snowstorm, I also got the chance to see how the Xdrive AWD system works, and compare it to my Subaru.

Yeah, this one was on an automatic transmission car, and it goes well beyond just auto-stopping for parking. I read in the manual that it'll go into auto-stop when you've come to a full stop for at least 1 second, as long as you've got the transmission in regular Drive (D) mode, and not in Drive Sport (DS) mode, or manual mode. Also if you've got your steering turned steeply, then it won't go into auto-stop: if your steering is cranked like that, then it determines that you're trying to make a turn at that moment, making it dangerous to auto-stop. And of course as mentioned before, it'll determine the temperature outside and decide whether to activate auto-stop or not too.
Anyways, I picked my own car (a Subaru) back up today, and gave the BMW loaner back, so it was fun getting to know it. Some features I liked about it (like this one), others that I didn't.
    Yousuf Khan
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Indeed he is.
This is a good feature - less strain on the alternator, very slightly greater deceleration on over-run and less power drained during acceleration, although IIRC, even in a 7 series it only takes about 1kW.

If it is very cold the AC does not actually run.

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On 13/04/2013 12:25 PM, R. Mark Clayton wrote:

So while the alternator is not running, is it running back on the batteries again?

Well, it's not running to the extent that's it being used to cool the environment inside the cabin, but I know that most cars use the AC to create de-humidified air to blow through the windscreen to defog it.
    Yousuf Khan
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I guess so. I presume that the alternator will be switched on if the battery is low.

IIRC the manuals for the 5 BMW's I have had say the AC will not operate below 2.5C.
OTOH E23's had a feature whereby the system would switch to recirculate when demist was selected.

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On 14/04/2013 3:37 PM, R. Mark Clayton wrote:

Again, that probably only refers to the cabin A/C which is used to cool the cabin. But the A/C is also used to dry the air going into the windshield defogger. Most car companies do that with their A/C. Especially when the full-defogger is selected, i.e. where all of the air is forced through the windshield rather than just partially through the windshield and through the cabin.

Recirculating the air inside to defog would actually cause more fog to appear inside. In the snowy climates, as you enter a cabin, and after awhile the snow melts off your boots and your clothes, more moisture becomes available inside the cabin. When the air is being recirculated, this moisture can't escape, and starts coating the windows and windshield. The solution here is to make sure dry outside air comes in and that it gets dried further by the A/C.
However, I can see it might the opposite situation in warm tropical climates, where the outside air is moister than the inside air. Then you might want to recirculate the inside air instead.
    Yousuf Khan
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Lets try this again shall we. On all five 7 series I have had the AC will not operate below an outside ambient of 2.5C, even if the "defogger" is selected, UNLESS you select recirculation and even then the intake air has to reach 2.5C.

Rubbish - the inside air IS above 2.5C so once the cabin reaches 2.5C then AC will switch on and condense all that water out of the recirculating air.

You can't dry near freezing air, because it will ice up the condenser.

You might. 1/3 - room for improvement.

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On 16/04/2013 6:22 PM, R. Mark Clayton wrote:

"A defogger, demister, or defroster is a system to clear condensation and thaw frost from the windshield, backglass, and/or side windows of a motor vehicle. For primary defogging, heat is generally provided by the vehicle's engine coolant via the heater core; fresh air is blown through the heater core and then ducted to and distributed over the interior surface of the windshield by a blower. This air is in many cases first dehumidified by passing it through the vehicle's operating air conditioning evaporator. Such dehumidification makes the defogger more effective and faster, for the dried air has a greater capacity to absorb water from the glass at which it is directed."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defogger
"The defroster works two ways: first, it blows warm air on the windshield, this warm air can hold more water, so some of the water evaporates back off of the windshield. with luck the defroster can pick water up faster than it condenses. In a car with Air Conditioning, the air conditioner also has a component that dehumidifies (sucks the water out of) the air that comes out of the vents. so those cars blow warm dry air across the windshield to draw more condensation off of the windshield."
http://askville.amazon.com/Car-defroster-working/AnswerViewer.do?requestIdq35625
        Yousuf Khan
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On 19/04/2013 02:01, Yousuf Khan wrote:

Note 'in many cases' - not below c.3C

http://askville.amazon.com/Car-defroster-working/AnswerViewer.do?requestIdq35625

Incorrect.
Not entirely sure of your point. In most cases AC shouldn't operate at or below freezing because moisture will freeze, and ice will build up, on the evaporator coil. Compressor damage will likely follow.
Rob
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Thanks - saved me telling him AGAIN!
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And?
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On 16/04/2013 8:44 PM, dizzy wrote:

It was okay, but it really wasn't enough snow accumulation to test for a difference, most of the snow was wet or started melting to water within hours. Also, the X1 was fitted with just normal all-season tires, but my Subie has full snow-tires on it, so it may not have been a truly fair test. Wish I had this to test during January or February, even early March.
    Yousuf Khan
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On 11/04/2013 08:47, RJH wrote:

Forgot to mention, BMW now state that fuel can be saved even with only a 4 second engine off period.
David
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On 11/04/2013 10:03 AM, David wrote:

Yes, read that in the manual.
    Yousuf Khan
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