Lead-acid Business031201

Lead-acid Business
 (July 2004) Indian Company Hopes to Put Cheap Batteries in HEVs

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Sciences (IIS), have developed a method for making Lead-acid batteries with high energy densities to 50 Wh/kg.  Grid materials are made from plastics which have a 10 micron tin oxide layer to protect them from the acid and another 10 microns of copper followed by a 100 micron coating of lead. Laboratory testing has confirmed the energy density, ability to be fast charged and corrosion resistance.  The technology is being upscaled to produce field test units.  Applications are targeted for the HEV, EV and industrial high power  short duration requirements.  Commercialization is expected to be three years away.  One-third of the funding is provided by the Indian Federal Department of Industrial and Scientific Research.

IEEE Spectrum ONLINE, May 27, 2004, www.spectrum.ieee.org
(June 2004) BCI  Looks Forward to a Positive Economy with Opportunities for Lead-acid
 (March 2004) TBS Engineering Ltd. purchases all assets of Tekmax, Inc.  Tekmax is the world’s largest provider of battery plate enveloping and automated transfer equipment.  TBS Engineering bought Tekmax because it complemented the range of Lead-acid battery assembly equipment.
(Febuary2004) Matushita Battery Industrial Co. and Shin-Kobe Electric Machinery Co. of Japan announce partnering in automobile and lead storage batteries.  The two companies  will co-develop batteries, supply products to each other and create a jointly capitalized materials procurement company.  

Yuasa Corp. and Japan Storage Battery Co. also have plans to integrate their operations next April.

TBS Engineering Ltd. purchases all assets of Tekmax, Inc.  Tekmax is the world’s largest provider of battery plate enveloping and automated transfer equipment.  TBS Engineering bought Tekmax because it complemented range of Lead-acid battery assembly equipment.

 (November 2003) Lead-acid Battery Shipments  - A Brief Review

Although the newer and higher density chemistries are often headlined in the battery world news, it should be remembered that Lead-acid is still the  power horse  for  all forms of transport from personal autos and SUVs to utility vehicles and   backup power.  Lead-acid literally empowers our global economy.  So, it is fitting that data is reported  in reference to  shipments not only for original equipment batteries but also for  replacement batteries. The Battery Council International (BCI) carefully monitors the business of its member manufacturers . The following data in these charts  is  “used with permission, Battery Council International (BCI), Copyright 2003.”
Microsoft Excel ChartIn comparing the first eight months from the year 2002 and 2003, shipments of Heavy Duty  Commercial batteries had a positive gain of +35.21percent., but Passenger  Car and Light Commercial batteries dropped by  -9.56 percent.  

Although the category of  “Other Batteries” shipped appears to have similar volumes in both 2002 and 2003, subcategories within this category had significant changes.  For example,  , General Utility, the largest subcategory, had a 22.22% rise to 923,461 while Military Types, the subcategory with the smallest number,   declined over 99 percent to 4.  However, the data  for replacement batteries in these two categories shows very different results.  (See chart on  Replacement batteries.)

In reviewing the classifications,   the categories for  Passenger Car and Light Commercial batteries as well as the Heavy Duty Commercial batteries include both 6 and 12 Volt.  The “Other” batteries category includes the following: Special Tractor, Marine, General Utility, Golf Cart/Floor Scrubber and MilitaryTypes.
Microsoft Excel ChartIn comparing the first eight months from the year 2002 and 2003, shipments of Heavy Duty  Commercial batteries posted a decline  of -0.29 percent., while Passenger  Car and Light Commercial batteries dropped by  -3.25 percent.

Although the category of  “Other Batteries” shipped appears to have similar volumes in both 2002 and 2003, subcategories within this category had significant changes.  For example,  , General Utility, the largest subcategory, had a  +4.41 percent rise to 4,660,803  while Military Types, the subcategory with the smallest number,  showed a +20.9 percent rise to 290,989 .  However, the data  for Original Equipment batteries in these two categories shows very different results.  (See chart on
OE  batteries.)
The Replacement Market in comparison to the Original Equipment Market is much larger as exemplified by the number of total batteries shipped during the same time parameters.  Although the data reflects a slight  downturn in the number of batteries shipped, the Lead-acid battery   industry  has remained very stable during a time when the economy has had difficulties.  It should also be noted that Lead-acid technology has had many improvements in recent years, so today’s batteries have longer cycle and calendar life and therefore do not need to be replaced  as often.

Not included in the charts are Lead-acid bvatteries used for specialty   markets such as motorcycles and aircraft.  However, in looking at the same time parameters from August 2002 (Y-T-D) and August 2003 (Y-T-D), there was a +25.18 percent  gain to 17,988   in Original Equipment batteries shipped, but the Replacement shipments indicate a -16.51 percent decline to 3,346,545  during this same time period.

(Sept. 03) The Environmental Protection Agency in Taiwan is monitoring large shiploads of used Lead-acid batteries going to mainland China to prevent illegal dumping or shipping.   Estimates are that about 200 tons are currently being smuggled  by ships into the mainland. The current recycling rate in Taiwan is about 60 percent.  With 6.6 million cars and 10.3 million motor scooters, it is estimated that about 50,000 tons of old batteries should be collected and recycled each year. Currently, there is only one registered operator that can not only collect batteries but can also recycle and dispose of the old units.

Each battery has about eight kilograms of lead.  Lead from used batteries is worth approximately US $46/kilogram on the world market.
(September, 2003)A Brief Visit to the Asian Battery Conference
(September,03) Lead-Acid Batteries Keep Critical Operations Running During Outages

 (August 2003) Keith Wandell, President of the Automotive Group at Johnson Controls (JCI), takes on additional  responsibilities.  He has been promoted  to a newly created position overseeing its automobile battery and interiors businesses and will report directly to CEO John Barth.  Glenn Ponczac, a Company spokesman, said that Mr. Wandell has significantly expanded JCI’s battery market share in the U.S. and has taken the Company from zero market share to the No. 1 player in Europe.  

Keith Wandell also  is currently the president of  the Battery Council International (BCI).
 (August 2003) Exide Technologies files a Plan of Reorganization with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.  Under the proposed Plan, which is subject to certain creditor approval and confirmation by the Bankruptcy Court, Exide will emerge from Chapter 11 with dramatically reduced debt and a reorganized capital structure.  They key elements of the Company’s proposed Plan include a debt-for-equity exchange and the cancellation of all existing common stock.  As of July 21, the stock price was about $0.15/share.

 (July,03) MAC Engineering and Equipment Company, Inc.  gains exclusive rights to Sovema GT equipment in the U.S.A., Canada and Latin American markets.  Sovema SpA retains the rights to the remainder of the world market, which will be handled out of its offices in Villiafranca, Italy.  Sovema GT will continue its operation in Chatanooga and perform the service and spare parts for the U.S.A. market of all Sovena SpA products.  
 Adobe Photoshop Image(July,03) DeLight E. Breidegam, Jr., chairman and founder of East Penn Manufacturing, was given the Battery Council International (BCI) title of Honorary Life Member.  Mr. Breidegam received the award at the 2003 BCI Convention in May.  Randy Hart, Vice-President of BCI presented the award and said, “DeLight was instrumental in mitigating many of the most onerous aspects of proposed lead battery industry regulations...The entire worldwide battery industry benefited by his continuous actions.” Mr. Breidegam served as the BCI President from 1978 to 1979 and also served as BCI Director from 1969 to 2002.

Mr. Breidegam founded East Penn Manufacturing in 1946.  He continues to serve the company as chairman.   Today, East Penn is the largest independently-owned battery company in the industry.

(May 2003) BCI (The Battery Council International) begins ongoing research in “Exploring Our Future Strategic Conversations and Studies That Address the Future of the Battery Industry.” The four proposed themes being developed are:
> Converging Technologies and New Economies
> Demographic Destinies, Human Choices
> “Glocal” (Global and local) Societies and Communities
> Generational Certainties and Noble Aspirations
For more information, call Maurice A. Desmairais at    312-644-6610 or email: [email protected]

(April 2003) Exide Technologies Inc.’s subsidiary, Exide Holdings Europe S.A., sells all non-lead battery businesses to Saft.   The business consists of the following battery types: primary Lithium, secondary Lithium, Nickel-cadmium, and primary and secondary Silver-zinc batteries for military and industrial applications.  The proceeds will be used to reduce debt.

(October,2002) Exide’s woes not over yet
Although insulated by its chapter 11 bankruptcy status, Exide is still struggling. While competitor Johnson Controls has already made the move to build batteries in Mexico, Exide has no such facilities, relying on European manufacture. Industrial battery sales are suffering so Exide is reliant on automotive sales to provide the profits. The hope is that Exide could be out of chapter 11 within a year.
Batteries International
July 2002, p. 16
(10-02) “Presently deemed cost-prohibitive, new design features associated with 42-Volt systems must offer benefits commensurate with the price level charged. The switch to 42-Volts requires significant changes to the electrical system of the car, but with all the risks involved, vehicle manufacturers are reluctant to lead this initiative,” notes Peter Bowlus, industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan. “They may have played a pivotal role in the development of the underlying technology, but the philosophy of most vehicle manufacturers remains to wait until real demand for these systems leads to greater economic viability. Though carmakers are likely to try to push 14-Volts as fast as they can (the use of technologies such as liquid-cooled alternators being just one example), the migration to 42-Volts will ultimately become unavoidable.” (Frost & Sullivan, http://frost.com)
(10-02)Thai Storage Battery Plc shows 20 percent growth attributed to robust domestic and regional vehicle markets. Thai Storage can produce 1.8 million units of BAT-3K batteries per year. The company is Thailand’s largest battery market in terms of capacity and ranks second in the replacement market. The company plans to keep in the “top end” of the battery market where there are fewer competitors such as Chineese manufacturers.1
Need Exists for Fourth ALABC Program
(10-02)The following article was provided by Batteries International editor Gerry Woolf.
With the Lead-acid battery market hurting from a slump in telecom, a downturn in the automotive industry and numerous structural and financial problems facing some key industry players, now perhaps isn’t the best time to go out with a box marked “give generously” to fund battery research. But will one more push fix the whole thing? Like finding a cure for cancer, the answer is not quite that simple.
The timing to go out fund-raising may not be ideal, but ALABC Director Pat Moseley thinks it is essential. The auto industry is finally realizing that a Lead-acid battery offers the most cost- effective way to provide both 42-Volt and mild hybrid energy storage. The battery will be a high-rate VRLA battery operating in partial-state-of-charge duty, which the battery has not had to deal with before.
So where do the problems lie and how will ALABC begin to solve them? The clues lie in the proceedings of recent ALABC conferences. “Essentially, we’re left with materials problems,” explains Moseley. ‘We solved a lot of the other puzzles; now the problems that remain are in the negative plate and the separator.”
The big issue with partial-state-of-charge of VRLA batteries is sulphation. The formation of sulphate on the negative plate during simulated HEV duty appears to be a process that begins on the outside of the plate. But why does it occur? There are strong indications that it is the extraordinarily high rates of charge that are responsible, and that the problem can be tackled, at least in part, by the addition of conductive additives - high surface area carbon - to the negative plate material. Japanese battery developers have a already started to go down this route.
“But there is still a lot of work to be done to determine the optimum form and the function of the additives - our theme is very much materials and process optimization,” says Moseley.
More Australian work gives a pointer to the management of trace element inventories. Part of the process of improving VRLA performance is through the reduction of gassing, and the work of Dr. Lan Lam of CSIRO who has already shown that there are some trace elements that act synergistically to affect gassing rates. It appears that some elements work in concert to reduce gassing while others seem to enhance it, and these elements are only present in small amounts in both the expanders and in the alloys.
While the separator manufacturers have been ardent supporters of the research, they would concur with the view that the industry does not yet have a perfect separator material. Such a material will have to withstand very high compression, resist growth of positive active material and control the amount of oxygen reaching the negative plate.
“We have to do a lot better in terms of battery life than the two years that might be expected from contemporary VRLA designs in high-rate partial-state-of-charge duty,” says Moseley. “Happily, some simple changes to the grid design have brought dramatic improvements to the life of the VRLA battery in this duty. The other issues, which we’ve talked about before, have not gone away - quality and uniformity of product and the manufacturing process - and we hope to bring those into a new program.”
Moseley is not concerned if the carmakers’ time scales have slipped a little since the start of the year. “It’s in our favor. We’ve got more time to get the thing right and to convince the car industry we have products that work. But the research that supports product development cannot be put off till nearer the time of market introduction, or turned on and off like a tap. Bearing in mind the time it takes industry to produce any kind of product innovation, and the time required for new product to be designed into automobiles, even 2008 is a bit soon.”
“Batteries are here to stay in automobiles,” he adds. “If the Lead-acid industry wishes to stay part of that future and not to be displaced from its role in the auto industry, it simply has to find the funds to support work which no one battery company or supplier can carry out on its own. It’s going to be a multi-disciplinary exercise on some very tricky problems, but there is no doubt that it can be successful and the prize is worth the effort.”
Q? Can the Lead-acid battery compete in modern times?
(08-02)Johnson Controls Inc. reports third quarter profit up 15 percent due to brisk sales of auto interior systems and batteries. Income for the company rose to $175 million ($1.85/share) in the third quarter which ended June 30th. This is a rise of $153 million ($1.62/share) from a year ago.
East Penn Manufacturing receives Federal Mogul Corporation’s Quality Award for 2001. For the Quality Award, suppliers must maintain a zero defect rate in parts per million throughout the calendar year.
Whither Exide
(08-02)All the past problems of Exide are reflected in the current financial condition of this company which has brought Exide’s stock price from a high of over $50 a share in 1994 to its current value of under $1.00 a share. After the rebuilding of credibility with Bob Lutz and the addition of GNB, the overwhelming debt of $424 million over the last five years continues to plague the company’s restructuring efforts. Now under the guidance of Craig Mulhauser, Exide seeks to find new sources of financing, asset sales and restructuring initiatives. Exide’s worldwide presence and leading Lead-acid product status make some form of improvement in business operations desirable. Improvements may require breaking up parts of this behemoth.
The Battery Man
March 2002, pp. 18-23
Fall of the House of Hawkins
Exide’s problems are delineated from the expansion strategies of Arthur Hawkins into the repair strategies of Bob Lutz. Without focusing on the illegal activities of Hawkins, the author who has no commitment to Exide proposes a simple solution which includes a good product, low manufacturing costs, a solid customer base and little debt. While this might produce a high score answer in an Econ./B School 101 class, the huge impact of Hawkins’ illegalities and the demise of many business caps post 2000, which also included Exide’s business, were not considered.
The Battery Man
March 2002, p. 52
(07-02)Cullen BCI Market Reports
(07-02)Exide’s former president, Arthur Hawkins and former vice president, Alan Gauthier plead guilty to charges of fraud. The former executives were convicted in June of scheming to sell defective batteries to Sears in 1997.
Exide celebrated good news when Ford Motor Company recently selected them to supply 12- Volt batteries for the new Ford Focus Fuel Cell Vehicle. In this fuel cell vehicle the battery will absorb extra energy generated by the fuel cell and use it to power the vehicle’s many electronic features, power steering and other accessories.
Auto supplier profits solid on strong demand

Johnson Controls reported profits rising by 16% to $115 million in its second quarter. They raised the current-year outlook for its automotive business. Sales growth for the Controls unit was cut, causing a drop in stock price of $1.06 after reaching a 52 week high of $93.20.
Johnson Controls Financial News Release
April 2002
(06-02)Johnson Controls (JCI) is named one of Ford’s best global suppliers. JCI also received the Market Engineering Leadership Award from Frost & Sullivan. Frost & Sullivan reported on JCI’s leadership in the Pan-European market with 8.7 percent of the total revenue share compared with nearest rivals which account for less than five percent.
On another positive note, JCI, which garners about three-quarters of its sales from its growing automobile systems operations, said stronger demand on car and light trucks in the U.S. has improved its outlook for business. The Company said that its fiscal second quarter profit rose 16 percent on strength in demand for automobile interior systems and batteries.
(05-02)EnerSys Inc. acquires Energy Storage Products Group of INVENSYS plc. John D. Craig, Chairman, President and CEO of EnerSys, said, “Our expanded product portfolio will continue to serve two main markets; Motive Power, serving the OEM and aftermarket material handling, railway and mining markets through the Exide, General and Hawker line of products; and Reserve Power, serving utilities, uninterruptible power supply, telecommunications, data communications and internet markets through our Powersafe, Datasafe and Genesis line of products.”