A battery is born

In Business Profile, April 20226 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineMay 9, 2022

Varta batteries are developed with truck manufacturers, ensuring fleets get the best out of their investment. HCB Technologies, the exclusive importer of Varta batteries into New Zealand, explores why they are ideal for the transport sector.

In the race to net-zero, the heavy- transport industry is constantly developing new technology to meet new emissions standards, with dramatic decreases in emissions and improved fuel efficiency.

Demand for electric and hybrid vehicles has increased rapidly, but the technology is far more complicated for heavy vehicles than cars and other light vehicles. While there are some options in the market, the development of alternatively powered heavy vehicles is ongoing.

Euro-6 standards were introduced in 2015. These rules control how much carbon monoxide, hydrocarbon, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter vehicles can emit per kilometre. EU regulations require truck exhaust emissions to be reduced by 15% by 2025 and 30% by 2030.

While these standards will help the transport industry reduce emissions, they also highly affect vehicle batteries, particularly their location and the vehicle load placed on them.

Varta batteries are manufactured in collaboration with vehicle manufacturers.

How the new standards affect battery life

Commercial trucks often have their battery located at the end of the frame, put there so that bigger fuel tanks and the like can be added. The location at the chassis rear means there is a great deal of vibration, which affects the battery – vibration is one of the top four reasons a battery fails.

Truck manufacturers also equip their vehicles with ever-increasing electrical features, requiring more energy. This can lead to deeply discharged batteries. Extra electrical loads such as sailing/ coasting features and hotel functions also affect battery life. Batteries are expected to power all electric loads, such as GPS, navigation, driver assistance systems and more.

Opportunities to recharge batteries are also often limited, putting enormous strain on the performance of commercial vehicle batteries. And although fuel- saving functions are increasingly being used, reducing CO 2 emissions, they can also drain the battery, drastically reducing its lifespan.

HCB Technologies also runs trials with batteries returned for teardown analysis in New Zealand.

How Varta plays it part

Jeff Mills, HCB Technologies product manager, says a battery is now, more than ever, a core component of not only starting a vehicle but also for maintaining reliable electrical flow for the safety systems now employed in these vehicles. “Fleets of today expect reliability from their vehicles and their parts. That’s where Varta comes in,” he says.

Varta batteries are manufactured in collaboration with vehicle manufacturers – their engineers work inside the vehicle factory. This ensures the battery is synchronised with the vehicle and the vehicle systems that place electrical load on the battery.

“Truck manufacturers turn to Varta to jointly develop a battery technology that can master these challenges and ensure a better service life,” Mills says.

“Varta batteries are therefore not an aftermarket product per se, but rather, they are an exact fit part that meets all original criteria of the commercial vehicle manufacturer,” he says.

“Customers can expect that they are purchasing and installing batteries as the manufacturer intended.”

Battery lifespan

It can be difficult to predict how long a vehicle battery will last because of all the different variables involved in operating a heavy vehicle. One vehicle may work in a predominantly urban environment, whereas another may operate across metal, non-sealed roads. Distance between stops can also impact service life, as can conditions such as temperature.

“All of this said, following real-world trials with customers such as Fonterra, Varta batteries absolutely provide superior service life over other batteries,” Mills says.

HCB Technologies not only supplies Varta batteries, it also runs trials, with batteries returned for tear-down analysis in New Zealand, as well as being sent to the manufacturing plants overseas for further analysis. Manufacturing changes are then made specifically from this information. The quality of data the New Zealand data directly influences battery design by the global manufacturer.

“The quality of Varta batteries is derived from not only the best materials available but also the engineered design of them – for example, the patented grid designs and the fact that each part of the battery will be in line with what is best for the particular manufacturer’s requirements,” says Mills.

Backup service

HCB Technologies strives to provide quality products supplied with integrity and backed by excellent people and service. HCB trades nationally in the New Zealand wholesale battery market. Branches are located throughout the major centres, servicing customers directly or through a distributor network.

The company’s backup service includes a full investigation of what is deemed a premature failure of batteries, and the adaptation of batteries and/or the technology type of battery to meet the bespoke environment in which they are used.