What’s the future for the 12-volt battery? asks Ecobat Battery

For decades, when it comes to the storage of a vehicle’s electrical power, there has been one constant: the 12-volt car battery.

However, with the changing face of the new car market and the boom in sales of electric cars, what might the future hold for this, most traditional of aftermarket consumables?

Since the AGM (absorbent glass mat) battery was adopted as the original equipment (OE) fitment for micro-hybrid (start/stop enabled) applications, pan-European battery distributor Ecobat Battery, alongside partners such as CD Group, has been at the forefront in expressing the need for independent workshops to be fully up to speed when it comes to the potential that these batteries presented.

However, although the vehicle manufacturers (VMs) had made AGM, and subsequently, the enhanced flooded battery (EFB) their primary power storage solution, primarily because motorists chose to override the start/stop function in their vehicles, these batteries were not failing at the age that was originally anticipated. This anomaly was simply because they were only making a fraction of the number of starts they were designed to, so were lasting far longer than anticipated, but due to the combined effects of changing vehicle design making overriding the start/stop function more difficult, reduced vehicle usage brought about by lockdowns during the pandemic and the simple passing of time, the landscape has changed significantly.

Research undertaken by Ecobat Battery, which is a major distributor for, among other brands, Exide and VARTA, both key OE suppliers of AGM and EFB batteries, reveals that although in 2019 just 6% and 1% of battery replacements were AGM and EFB respectively, by 2022 the figures were 15% and 5%. Moreover, this trend will continue and is forecast to achieve double-digit growth every year to reach 28% and 12% in 2027, just four years from now.

This development is reflected in the product portfolios of battery manufacturers, such as Exide and VARTA, significantly increasing the AGM and EFB range they offer, not just to address the need for replacement batteries for start/stop vehicle applications, but new energy vehicles (electric, hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric and fuel cell electric vehicles) as well.

The reason for this range expansion is that, irrespective of the primary drive system of the vehicle – combustion engine, engine combined with a 48-volt or 350-volt battery, or a 400-volt battery in a fully electric vehicle – a ‘traditional’ 12-volt AGM/EFB battery is also fitted. Once again, this is a long term trend as VMs recognise the need to ensure their vehicles have a suitable and reliable reserve power supply, should the battery used in the drivetrain be exhausted

So, the reality for the independent aftermarket is that although the primary function of these 12-volt batteries will evolve, from starting the engine to servicing increased electrical load and critical safety functions, the demand for OE quality replacement batteries will remain for the foreseeable future, which is good news for the replacement battery sector!

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