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AVOIDING THE BATTERY BLUES THIS WINTER

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AVOIDING THE BATTERY BLUES THIS WINTER


As the season of flat batteries creeps in, how are suppliers preparing garages this winter? CAT Reporter Daniel Moore finds out.

Battery labelling at Yuasa factory

Like all of the aftermarket, we wait in joyful expectation of a foggy and icy winter, but how are battery companies preparing for the oncoming season?

MARKETING CAMPAIGNS
The idea is of course to recommend a replacement before it fails to start the car, thus eliminating some of the seasonal peaks and troughs in battery sales.

Trying to achieve a similar theory but with a slightly different end goal in mind, Swedish battery charger firm CTEK has launched a campaign to encourage motorists to prolong the life of the battery by regularly giving it a maintenance charge (by using one of the firm’s switching ‘smart’ chargers of course). A new consumer product called ‘Time to Go’ has removed most of the process indicators on the front panel, instead simply telling the motorist how long it will be until the battery is charged. The product ties in with a Bluetooth dongle and smartphone app called ‘battery sense’, that gives the motorist real-time info about the state of health of their batteries – this could be particularly useful on vehicles that are rarely used over the winter such as classic cars or motorhomes. Sten Hammargren, Consumer Business Unit Manager at CTEK, said “It’s a reflection of the demands that today’s consumer has for household tools and accessories that can keep them in the picture – we’ve seen it with other household goods such as washing machines and tumble dryers and now you can have this type of information from your battery charger.”

TESTING TIMES
Of course most consumers will prefer the garage to check the state of health of their battery and Bosch Car Service member garage Spiros Motors, is one workshop that has followed suit by carrying out free of charge battery checks on every vehicle it sees. Dinos Christoforou, Master Technician at Spiros Motors, expands: “Every single service for any vehicle coming in, it’s one of the main checks that we do”, highlighting the tools used for the job, he said, “We use Bosch Bat121 Electronic Tester that measures the amperage of the battery. notifies us of how much amperage is in the battery before it needs to be charged up”, adding that a ticket print out is then issued from the machine. You might ask what the point of a printout is if the machine has it on the display, well, this information is then relayed back to the customer, complete with the printout as proof that the check has been carried out as described and notifying them of the steps taken before receiving the keys back to their vehicle.

To avoid breakdowns, Steve Hudson, Head of Business Development at Behr Hella Services, says garages should consistently advise customers to maintain their battery all year around no matter how much or little the vehicle is used. “Battery related issues remain the most common cause of breakdown, whatever the season, battery health should be a priority”, notes Hudson. “Technicians should be recommending that customers that use their vehicles infrequently or make only short journeys, should charge the battery on a regular basis, which will substantially reduce the risk of electrical related breakdown”. Lee Quinney, Country Manager for Banner Batteries GB, echoes Hudson’s sentiment suggesting ongoing training should be a number one priority of any garage, particularly with the eclectic range battery technologies flooding the market. “Giving the garages the training and support that is needed has never been more important, particularly as specifying the wrong start-stop battery for a vehicle can have serious consequences”, he replied.

BATTERY LOOK-UP TOOLS
When the time for battery replacement comes, a number of manufacturers have introduced online applications allowing workshops, suppliers and the like to source their models easily. Ecobat Technologies (formerly Manbat) is a prime example with its EBT Battery Finder that has helped extend its distribution network to many independents nationwide. “Users simply need to enter the registration number of the vehicle in the search box and the site will use a sophisticated VRM database to locate the correct car and provide access to its vehicle- specific details”, notes Paul Payne, Sales Director at Ecobat Technologies. “This information naturally includes the exact specification of the battery for which it is designed, and therefore provides an absolute assurance the battery is the precise replacement the VM has specified for that model”.

With the extensive amount of gadgets and promotions on offer, workshops and retailers can be rest assured that by investing in some of these wares and services will enable them to avoid those battery blues this winter while picking up some extra revenue along the way.

CHARGING UP FOR THE FUTURE
While technology in vehicles becomes increasingly complex, we were interested to find out how this could impact the battery market in the years to come. Although we have touched on the aforementioned start-stop technology, it is the now and future as battery maker DBS Energy’s MD Henry James, points out, “The market in automotive batteries is moving towards ‘All Electric’, but the current future is in stop-start technology, which is having a positive outcome on sales of AGM batteries due to larger amounts of stop-start cars being on our roads”, he said. “There has already been a huge swing to sealed maintenance free flooded batteries also, which has already started to take place in the commercial vehicle sector too.”

Ecobat’s Sales Director Paul Payne concurs and expands. “In the short to medium term, the replacement market will remain dominated by the 12-volt battery. Clearly AGM sales will increase and [traditional] batteries gradually fall back, but any significant growth outside this core sector, is still several years in the future.”

Yuasa’s James Douglas says before investing in future wares, workshops must first identify and understand the different setups for each model on the market, something that is still a little unclear among some garages. He said, “The key issues is there hasn’t been a massive volume of start-stop cars going through garages needing their battery replaced, it’s only now that it’s beginning to increase. We are still pushing that message and explaining to garages that it’s a completely different setup. If a car has EFB battery then it needs to be replaced with EFB and likewise with AGM as opposed to a conventional one.”

Whatever the weather, it looks like there is still good business in battery services for a while yet.

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LUCAS BATTERIES SPONSORS GRAFF LEMANS CAR


Ecobat Battery Technologies, which uses the Lucas Batteries brand under licence, is to sponsor a LeMans racer.

The Graff Racing Gibson V8 powered ORECA 07 LMP2 racer will be driven by former Formula 3 champion James Winslow, who is in his first season in driving for Graff Racing.

Commenting on the association, EBT’s Steve Sheppard said: “Since the formal consolidation of our various battery businesses spread throughout Europe, which was completed last year, we have been looking for an opportunity to promote the pan-European nature of EBT.

“Le Mans is a truly global event and therefore provides us with just such a platform, while also providing the opportunity to raise awareness of the Lucas battery brand to both our many trade customers and the wider motoring public.

 

 

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HELLA RE-ENERGISES ITS BATTERY PROGRAMME


PROMOTION ARTICLE ON BEHALF OF HELLA 

hella-battery-range

As one of Europe’s leading original equipment (OE) manufacturers and system suppliers for the passenger car, commercial vehicle (CV) and agricultural industries, HELLA also offers a huge range of aftermarket products that naturally reflect the quality implicit in a major OE manufacturer.

Battery related issues remain the root cause of most vehicle breakdowns with battery performance reduced by as much as 35% as temperatures hit freezing. Therefore, batteries are a particularly important product across all sectors, so as would be expected, the HELLA range is designed around quality.

To ensure its entire range remains at the very top of division when it comes to performance and durability, HELLA has recently reviewed, updated and expanded its range to provide the most appropriate solution for the varying needs of drivers.

The renewed car, light commercial vehicle (LCV) and CV battery ranges are included in HELLA’s latest Power Promotion, which runs until the end of the year and means the more batteries that a wholesaler orders, the greater their rebate.

As well as high quality products supplied by a reputable OE manufacturer, another major benefit for wholesalers distributing HELLA batteries is the no minimum order quantity stipulation and with next day delivery, factors only need to order what they need, when they need it.

The re-energised battery range consists of four models: Classic, Premium, Supreme and AGM, to cater for every conceivable application, from passenger car and LCV to heavy duty and agricultural.

The Classic range is designed for smaller capacity engines and older vehicles, providing a cost effective solution for these applications because of its reliability and maintenance free convenience.

For general purpose applications, HELLA has designed the Premium range for all classes of vehicles. It is one of the top selling models in the range and offers matching OE performance and a long service life, which is why the range proves so popular.

With the Supreme, HELLA provides a higher than OE specification solution for vehicles with extremely high energy consuming demands. Particularly ideal for diesel engines and vehicles with a large number of electronic devices and energy sapping additions, its robust design and optimised performance ensures reliability and a long service life.

The HELLA AGM range is ideal for the growing number of vehicles featuring stop-start functionality, as it is designed to cater for this technology due to its excellent cyclic capacity as well as providing up to 50% more starting power.

For more information about the OE quality products available from HELLA or for BEHR HELLA SERVICE, please call the sales team on: 01295 662400 or email: hella.sales@hella.com

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