Varta and Manbat: preparing for a Start-Stop future
Mainstream media tends to pass over Start-Stop technology and instead focuses on plug-in electric or concept cars, yet despite this dearth of attention vehicle manufacturers continue to quietly go about their business and introduce ever more micro hybrids – Start-Stop vehicles – into their model ranges. This technology is admittedly only one of a number of powertrain alternatives under development, yet micro hybrids have gained considerable favour due to the ability of Start-Stop technology to cost effectively achieve EU emission targets while still providing motorists with vehicle range and usability.
As of next year, vehicle manufacturers will be compelled to reduce fleet average CO2 emissions across their vehicles registered in Europe to just 130 g/km. Many opine that only the introduction of micro hybrid vehicles will allow manufacturers to meet these rigorous targets on an affordable basis. Key to the success of the Start-Stop systems used in these vehicles is of course the battery, and at present AGM batteries are the most suitable units for this purpose.
Currently only around 2.8 million vehicles worldwide are fitted with Start-Stop technology, but this figure is expected to rocket to 30 million by 2015. This represents enormous potential for JCI/Varta who, with some 36 per cent the OEM and aftermarket business, claims to be the largest player in the global AGM battery market. As micro hybrids become more established the onus will be upon companies such as JCI/Varta to provide a range of aftermarket batteries suitable for all requirements.
Varta’s micro hybrid vehicle aftermarket batteries come in two specifications; Start-Stop with EFB (Enhanced Flooded Battery) technology and Start-Stop Plus with AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) technology, with five types in each range. The Start-Stop with EFB technology range is described by Manbat, primary distributor of Varta batteries in the UK aftermarket, as being ideally suited to vehicles with a standard, entry-level Start-Stop function; when the engine is switched off, they provide the vehicle’s electrical system with a reliable power supply and ensure the engine restarts in a fraction of a second. Furthermore, these batteries boast double the cyclic stability as conventional batteries and can be allowed to discharge more without any loss of functionality.
However, Manbat believes the Start-Stop Plus with AGM technology range is the “perfect solution” for vehicles employing advanced Start-Stop technology with regenerative braking and additional fuel-saving technologies. The Varta distributor claims that only the specially developed Start-Stop Plus range can meet the challenges imposed by these systems. Stated benefits the Start-Stop Plus offers over the Start-Stop include even greater performance and versatility and the ability to reliably supply power to an even greater range of devices.
Support for workshops
In order to support independent workshops as they make the transition from conventional engines to these more complex Start-Stop systems, Johnson Controls Inc./VARTA has become a shareholder in Europe’s leading aftermarket training alliance, Exponentia S.A.S. By joining forces with Exponentia, JCI/VARTA is in a position to provide aftermarket professionals with the technical support they need to come to terms with the rapidly growing Start-Stop sector. In the face of the complexity of these vehicles, technical information, training and product knowledge are growing in significance; through Exponentia, technicians can increase their professional expertise and remain up-to-date with the latest developments through a practice-orientated training programme.
“Manbat is positively encouraging its customers to make preparations to gear up to deal with the new generation of AGM batteries,” said Manbat managing director, Steve Sheppard. “And as the predominant supplier of VARTA batteries throughout the UK, we are perfectly placed to cater for the requirements of workshops looking at how to address this changing marketplace.
“The developments are good news for workshops because a typical AGM battery will generate twice the unit revenue and three times the margin of a conventional flooded lead-acid battery, so there will be more profitability with this technology,” Sheppard added. “Manbat has been and will remain committed to the battery business over the long-term, which is why retaining profitability through all levels of the supply chain is so important.
“Drivers generally, and drivers of Start-Stop vehicles in particular, are totally reliant on the quality of the battery in their vehicle,” the Manbat managing director concluded. “It is therefore right for them to pay a fair price for a quality product and for the workshop/fast fit to earn a fair margin on such a vital component, which is why Manbat will not bow to the pressure to simply sell on price alone.”