Batteries International — Issue 130, winter 2023/24

Page 76

2024: THE YEAR AHEAD

OE adoption of premium batteries fuels demand in US automotive aftermarket

Mike Judd, CEO and president, Stryten Energy

We are seeing growth in the demand for automotive battery technologies such as enhanced flooded batteries and absorbed glass, as vehicles become more and more sophisticated. Half of new vehicles produced in model year 2021 included startstop technology. Advanced safety features and integrated infotainment are now standard in passenger vehicles that require higher performing batteries. European automobile manufacturers relied heavily on AGM solutions to power start-stop vehicles until 2008, when a shift began to take place, resulting in what is now an even division between AGM and EFB. Today, approximately half of all vehicles in Europe use AGM batteries and half use EFB, but EFB is taking the market lead. Since the US automotive industry typically follows its European counterparts by a decade or so, we are now seeing the expected utilization of EFB technology by US automotive manufacturers. Another factor driving growth for advanced lead batteries is the fact that consumers are keeping their cars longer. With the average vehicle age now reaching over 12 years, there is more demand for car battery replacements over the life of the vehicle.

Added to that, consumers have seen a decrease in their vehicle’s battery life because of the increased power demands of advanced safety features and electronic conveniences. The vehicle’s battery must be able to continuously power all the electronic features simultaneously without suffering from cycling-related failures. Today there is a wide range of lead battery options available to consumers, including standard flooded batteries, premium flooded batteries, and advanced lead batteries such as EFB and AGM. However, not all lead batteries are built with the same capabilities. Conventional flooded batteries are forecasted to continue to decline in OE

Because of its increased battery life, high heat tolerance, durability and greater energy availability, EFB will continue to grow its share of the premium flooded battery market in North America in parallel with the increase in AGM demand. use, with the increased adoption of both AGM and EFB by auto manufacturers. Manufacturers such as Ford, Nissan, Toyota, Volkswagen and others are shifting to using EFB in multiple vehicle types to meet the performance demands of numerous computerized functions. As these advanced lead batteries become the standard OE choice, US battery

manufacturers and aftermarket retailers will need to provide a range of premium replacement battery options for consumers. Because of its increased battery life, high heat tolerance, durability and greater energy availability, EFB will continue to grow its share of the premium flooded battery market in North America in parallel with the increase in AGM demand.

Technology that works straight from the box

Doug Bornas, chairman, MAC Engineering

During my time in the battery industry, I’ve seen new and different challenges springing up every year — and 2024 will be no different. In the age of consolidation where big companies seem to get bigger and smaller companies struggle to survive, innovation and new technologies will be the key to future success. For MAC Engineering, we

74 • Batteries International • Winter 2023/24

have to continually strive to stay up with what the customers need and want. Everything today is robotics, vision systems — basically multi-functional machines that require few to no operators. We have to find ways to make standard processes better, products better and the end result better and cleaner. So many challenges! Customers don’t have as much time to spend testing due to high demands and a labour force that is questionable on any given day. That means machine suppliers such as MAC have to produce cutting edge tech-

nology that is ready from day one — a daunting task to say the least. The challenges are real and we all have to take them seriously to survive and thrive. With constant threats to the lead acid battery industry, from lithium to bi-polar to everything else, these technologies will continue to threaten our industry. We all have to be ready when the next great thing comes around as none of us will want to miss it. Scary, difficult, exciting, challenging, these are the things we all get to look forward to in 2024.

We have to find ways to make standard processes better, products better and the end result better and cleaner.

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