Contain Fleet Fuel Costs Using Battery Power

By Alan Kohler, Marketing Manager, ODYSSEY Battery at EnerSys

Today’s onboard electrical devices require power to run, but it doesn’t need to come from a vehicle that’s running. Telematics systems, safety systems and collision mitigation technology, onboard cameras, Global Positioning System (GPS) and many other accessories that support the specific application have become essential equipment for fleet vehicles.

Initially, the main purpose of a vehicle battery was simply starting the engine. Power to operate a vehicle’s electrical features would then be drawn from the alternator of an idling engine.

Tightening environmental standards requiring reduced emissions and rising fuel costs have helped drive the need for gasoline and diesel engine fleets to find better power solutions that enable vehicle operators to turn off their engines more frequently, while providing the power for important electrical devices and accessories to function properly.

Enter start/stop technology

Allowing the average vehicle to idle for 10 seconds uses more fuel than restarting it. Some fleet managers have turned to start/stop and idle limitation technologies. Stop/start systems shut down the engine when vehicles come to a full stop and restart when the driver releases the brake pedal and steps on the accelerator. Idle limiters shut the vehicle down after a predetermined idle duration and require the operator to restart. Manufacturers and fleet operators claim that this technology can significantly improve fuel cost and emissions.

The Argonne National Laboratory, part of  the U.S. Department of Energy, estimates that more than 6 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel combined as well as the cost, are lost to idling every year.

Reducing idling time cuts fuel costs, harmful emissions and engine operation associated maintenance costs, but in turn places a greater burden upon the vehicle battery to supply needed electrical power. Is battery technology up to the challenge?

Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) batteries are the answer

AGM batteries are ideally suited to work in tandem with start/stop systems. AGM batteries excel at supplying powerful bursts of starting current and running electronics for an extended time.

In AGM batteries, the positive and negative plates are separated by an absorbent glass mat that absorbs and holds the electrolyte and prevents it from flowing freely inside the battery. The plates are tightly compressed into each cell and held under pressure in the plastic case. The internal compression reduces resistance, limits the shedding of plate material caused by cycling, and allows for significantly longer life and maximized pulse power output. A robust container maintains the necessary compression throughout the battery’s life.

The basic design also includes relief venting to release pressure from minor gassing that occurs during charging. The valves open at low pressure and close automatically to prevent air from leaking into the battery.

For vehicles without start/stop technology installed, AGM batteries can supply more than enough power to accommodate electrical accessories left on when the engine is turned off.

Electronic features such as information/entertainment, GPS, climate and audio systems all add to the demands on a battery. For multiple electronic features in use and plug-in accessories, superior deep cycle performance makes an AGM battery the right choice.

Other AGM benefits

In addition to reduced emissions and fuel savings, AGM batteries offer other advantages that can help to contain maintenance costs:

Longer life, fewer replacements

AGM batteries can provide three times the life of conventional lead acid batteries. More durable construction, better cycling performance and reduced gassing can extend battery life.

Faster recharging, low maintenance

AGM batteries recharge up to five times faster than conventional flooded lead acid batteries, require minimal maintenance and do not need additional watering.

Damage resistance

Because of their construction, AGM batteries can withstand shaking and vibration better than conventional lead acid batteries, providing longer life in heavy duty applications.

Safer to handle

AGM batteries are spill proof, leading to no acid leaks.

When it comes to saving fuel, replacing batteries might not be the first thing that comes to mind. Reduced idling time saves fuel and choosing the right battery for use in your fleet will not only ensure that vehicles continue to have the power electrical accessories demand, but provide additional cost savings as well.

Learn more about how ODYSSEY® batteries deliver greater reliability and value: Technicians may refer to the ODYSSEY® Battery Technical Manual as a good source of information about how ODYSSEY® batteries work. A copy may be downloaded here.

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