This Day On The Street
Continue to site
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here

The New Thing in Green Tech: Micro-Hybrid Batteries

The flooded lead-acid starter batteries we've all come to know and hate simply can't cope.

Since automakers know that conventional starter batteries can't withstand the demands of micro hybrids, they're all using cutout systems as a work-around. These systems disable the stop-start function whenever the battery isn't ready for another cycle. It's a suboptimal solution because a disabled stop-start system can't conserve fuel, but it's the best car companies can do until better batteries are available in relevant volumes.

In public, the automakers are all building micro hybrids as a core element of their regulatory compliance strategies. Behind the scenes, they're all putting tremendous pressure on battery manufacturers to quickly upgrade their products while controlling costs. For the first time in decades, the battery business is changing rapidly.

The first response from major battery manufacturers, including Johnson Controls (JCI - Get Report) and Exide Technologies (XIDE) was to introduce enhanced flooded batteries that perform up to four times better than conventional batteries and can be made in existing factories. The second response was aggressive capital spending to increase production capacity for absorbed glass mat, or AGM, batteries that perform up to 10 times better than conventional batteries.

From battery manufacturers' viewpoint, their efforts to boost performance by a factor of up to 10 times while controlling costs are nothing short of heroic. From automakers' perspective, there's still a huge gap between the 10 times the battery manufacturers are delivering and the 100 times the industry needs at a price point that doesn't push payback periods into the forever range.

That gap represents a wide-open window of opportunity for energy-storage innovators that can fill the "white space" with new products that offer significant performance gains at a suitable price point. It's a daunting challenge, but not an impossible dream.

In 2010, Maxwell Technologies (MXWL - Get Report) and Continental AG introduced the first advanced energy-storage system for micro hybrids. It pairs an ultracapacitor module from Maxwell with an AGM battery from Continental to provide the additional cranking power required by diesel micro hybrids from Peugeot-Citroën. The dual device architecture complements AGM batteries instead of competing with them. Shifting the starter loads to the ultracapacitor slows battery deterioration and extends AGM battery life by up to 30%. It's not a perfect solution because it can't address the accessory loads that are over 90% of the problem, but it is a step in the right direction with a product that's scalable to relevant volumes.
2 of 3

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Only $9.95
14-Days Free
Dividend Stock Advisor

David Peltier identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Real Money

More than 30 investing pros with skin in the game give you actionable insight and investment ideas.

Product Features:
  • Access to Jim Cramer's daily blog
  • Intraday commentary and news
  • Real-time trading forums
Only $49.95
14-Days Free
14-Days Free
XIDE $0.00 0.00%
AXPW $0.03 0.00%
JCI $40.50 0.00%
MXWL $6.00 0.00%
AAPL $93.24 0.00%


Chart of I:DJI
DOW 17,660.71 +9.45 0.05%
S&P 500 2,050.63 -0.49 -0.02%
NASDAQ 4,717.0940 -8.5450 -0.18%

Free Reports

Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs