The focus of motorised vehicle technology has changed rapidly over the last two decades to meet ever increasing consumer expectations and deliver experiences more over than as functional machines.
Safety, reliability and driving performance are expected to be strong factors, but now more than ever, as the critical consumer mass of Generation Y and Z take over, environmental impact is at the forefront of purchase behaviour.
According to the Electric Vehicle Council report from August 2020, 56 per cent of consumers would consider purchasing Electric Vehicles (EV).
Cost calculators offered on various websites including https://electricvehiclecouncil.com.au/about-ev/cost-calculator/ are educating consumers of the difference in emissions output as well as monthly running costs which are typically calculated over five years including taxes, duties, servicing and fuel.
The Federal Government is under increasing pressure to address consumer sentiment. A recent example of this was Infrastructure Victoria’s panel calling on the government to ban the sale of petrol-powered vehicles by 2050. This would support meeting the mandated zero net emissions target by the same year. In addition, to support the uptake of EV purchases, greater policy support is essential according to the Electric Vehicle Council.
While we can’t predict the future of the move to EV’s, it is clear that greater focus will be put on transport emissions, improving air quality, removing fuel insecurity and with it, a key mitigation strategy through transportation.
Electronic Vehicles represent a significant shift in power train technology from mechanical to electric and with it a step change in battery chemistry, power system voltage levels, handling, installation as well as recycling.
There will be implications for workshops, but in the meantime, what can our industry do to prepare itself and be ready to transition over time in the aftermarket? Familiarising ourselves with the latest battery applications will assist technicians to remain abreast of technology shifts and the changing fitment landscape. This ensures that automotive workshops can access more cars as they transition from dealer service programs to independent aftermarket service offers.
At the core of all modern vehicle technology is the electrical systems that control cameras, radar systems, anti-lock braking control systems, electric power steering, heating, ventilation / air conditioning along with ancillary systems and start-stop control, placing greater power demands on vehicle batteries than ever before. Battery selection, calibration and programming is also essential in newer vehicles. This makes the understanding of battery types and applications critical for repair and service businesses as they navigate this continuing evolution.
Car batteries and their purpose have evolved over the last 15 years, this is illustrated above:
Lead acid batteries have been around for over 150 years and are the longstanding technology in the vehicle market as it stands today. However, within this category battery design has been advancing to support increased power requirements.
Older vehicles typically use batteries for starting, lighting and ignition (SLI) and fitment is covered with 10–15 variants in size and cranking amps capability.
Replacing these batteries is simple provided that the correct battery is fitted initially and apart from ensuring fit for purpose Cold Cranking Amps, testing and installation is very straight forward.
Newer vehicles which require batteries to manage more than conventional SLI, require advanced lead acid design – enter the Enhanced Flooded Battery (EFB). EFB batteries support applications for entry level start-stop applications and can operate at more than twice the partial state of charge and deep-cycling performance of conventional batteries. These batteries are popular in many Japanese makes and models.
For true start-stop and modern convenience vehicles, Absorbed Glass Material (AGM) batteries are required due to the heavy reliance of the car’s emissions control function through start-stop and idling duty cycles. For this reason, AGM batteries have a higher power output, they are also faster to charge and they have been designed to deliver high cranking capability. These batteries, though part of the lead acid family, do require programming when being replaced as the control systems heavily rely on their input. These are popular in European vehicles and many premium makes and models may have an additional auxiliary battery installed. Fitment is not as common and battery location may not be under the hood.
Testing and replacement of automotive batteries is not only essential to modern internal combustion engine systems but also critical to EV’s. It is important to understand the different battery applications to ensure you have access to accurate selection and fitment information as your service work changes. Quality and fit for purpose parts are essential and OE battery products help mitigate the risk of premature system degradation or failure.