Ecobat Battery anticipates a surge in demand for replacement batteries, and explains how this can lead to profit opportunities.
It’s now three years since the country started to emerge from its forced hibernation, following the lockdown restrictions imposed during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. People tentatively ventured out, only to find that their cars wouldn’t start, their batteries dead from a lack of use over an extended period.
At the time, this presented the trade with a real boost as sales of replacement batteries soared. Now, a second opportunity is making its mark, according to Ecobat Battery Commercial Director, Paul Payne, as many of these are coming towards the end of their lives:
This development is expected to become even more pronounced now that the holiday season is over.
However, a difficult question that’s been raised on many occasions is that without drivers experiencing starting problems, how do they know where their car’s battery is in its lifecycle? The answer, which is a subject that has also been raised on many occasions, is to have the battery tested. Realistically, though, motorists are not going to do this proactively, so it’s down to workshops to put a battery testing regime into practice. This policy is even more important as seasons change and the increasing likelihood of some early morning frost or a prolonged cold snap.
Despite it taking just a couple of minutes, workshops rarely do a battery test, which is a wasted opportunity. Ecobat Battery, the UK’s largest battery distributor, has found, statistically, 27% of the vehicles that enter the independent workshop either need their batteries recharged or reconditioned, and a further 11% need a replacement.
What does it all mean?
Almost 40% of the vehicles they service daily has a battery issue, and so it is little wonder that 40% of roadside breakdowns are due to battery failure, which is business lost to independents and gained by the national breakdown services.
So, to encourage and assist workshops to introduce a battery testing culture, Ecobat Battery can, through its motor factor customers, provide point-of-sale support material that includes battery testing report cards, counter displays, A4 leaflets and A2 posters, which are available in a choice of Lucas, Exide, VARTA or Numax branding.
Why are they failing?
As well as stating why they shouldn’t be overlooked by workshops, it’s worth exploring why batteries discharge, particularly in cold weather, and ultimately, why they fail.
Even when disconnected, a typical lead acid SLI (starter/lights/ignition) battery will self-discharge at the rate of 0.1V per month, which means that a fully charged battery at 12.7V will be discharged to the point that it would struggle to start an engine (11.8V) in just nine months!
This natural discharge process is exaggerated when the battery is connected because it is the only source of power to the vehicle’s electrical system when the engine isn’t running, so its numerous electronic devices – clock, alarm, remote locking mechanism – all constantly draw power, further increasing the rate at which it discharges.
Opening and closing the vehicle without driving anywhere also puts more pressure on the battery, as it can draw as much as 50A to do so. Furthermore, should there be a parasitic drain because of a problem somewhere in the vehicle’s electrical system, the issue is further exacerbated.
When these real-life scenarios are combined with cold weather, however, the pressure on the battery moves to a new level because, even without these ongoing issues, when the temperature drops to freezing, the battery can lose up to 35% of its power!
When it comes to why most batteries reach their end of life, it is generally due to a process called sulphation. This is a chemical reaction that takes place in the electrolyte within the battery when the voltage drops to 12.4 or below, which causes lead sulphate crystals to build up on the lead battery plates. This reduces the battery’s capacity and cranking potential and signals the beginning of its demise.
These combined effects, along with reduced car usage, means that whatever the weather, the future remains bright for the replacement battery sector!