Electric & Autonomous Vehicles

The automotive industry is making tremendous investments to electrify transportation. Sustainable lead batteries are essential to support the mix of synergistic battery chemistries needed to transform the global car parc.

Every Electric Vehicle Requires a 12V Battery

To address increasing government mandates, vehicle manufacturers have created five vehicle electrification platforms, including autonomous vehicles.

Each serves as a steppingstone to greater electrification; all require one or more 12V low-voltage batteries, typically a 12V lead battery. Plug-in hybrids – or (P)HEVs – and fully electric vehicles (EVs), including autonomous vehicles, will require a mix of battery chemistries working in tandem: Lithium-ion for motive power and lead batteries for auxiliary power functions.

Chart on types of vehicle electrification

The bottom line: Lead batteries are a trusted solution to support the gradual move from traditional internal combustion engines (ICE) to EVs. Plus, with their 99% recycling rate, lead batteries further boost the sustainability profile of EVs and lead-battery supported charging stations.

Electric Vehicle Information Brief
Lead batteries power EV onboard functions

Powering Onboard Functions in Plug-In Hybrids and EVs

Advanced, low-voltage lead batteries in (P)HEVs and EVs are the behind-the-scenes heroes we often take for granted. A high-voltage battery pack (often lithium-ion) provides a vehicle’s motive power. But the sheer number of onboard electric functions in today’s vehicles requires an additional low-wattage lead battery to power the many critical safety, security, comfort and entertainment functions.

When a Vehicle is Off – Lead Batteries Keep Us Connected
  • Starts the car
  • Keeps electronics functioning
  • Manages process to charge the vehicle
When Driving – Lead Batteries Keep Us Powered
  • Powers accessory loads
  • Reserves motive power
In an Emergency – Lead Batteries Keep Us Safe
  • Powers low-voltage system if high-voltage battery fails
  • Ensures electric brakes and steering still function
  • Powers emergency reporting systems
Powerful Facts
  • 20 years ago, a new car had 20 individual electronic functions. Today, there are more than 150.
  • Over the past 10 years, the peak power needs of a vehicle have increased nearly 50%.

Lead Batteries Work in Tandem with Lithium-Ion

Most of today’s (P)HEVs and EVs use a high-voltage lithium-ion battery pack to power the electric motor that provides vehicle traction. A 12V low-voltage lead battery provides the critical auxiliary power for virtually all other nonmotive electrical functions.
Electric vehicle with lead battery callouts

Powering EV and Hybrid Charging Stations

A vast, reliable charging-station network will help accelerate the adoption of more electrified vehicles. Lead batteries store and provide power at EV charging sites – even during extreme weather and peak demand times.

Charging station developers, automakers and government are rolling-out more lead-battery-supported EV charging stations to provide safe, convenient power. That supports the deployment of fast-charge-enabled charge points in more locations and at lower cost using existing grid infrastructure.

A lead battery offers significant benefits:

  • Provides a domestically sourced energy storage solution for clean and green EV charging.
  • Regulates and ensures power at EV charging stations.
  • Stores energy from multiple electrical sources (grid power, fuel cell, wind or solar).
  • Maintains a nearly 100% recycling rate, ensuring feedstock for new lead batteries, which typically consist of more than 80% recycled material.

“They [lead batteries] enable us to harness solar electricity generated on site to minimize our impact on the world with a game-changing, 100-percent recyclable battery.”

Selected lead batteries to power thousands of solar EV charging stations across the U.S.

Bridging Transition from ICEs to EVs

Despite ambitious goals for EV adoption in the U.S., the path will likely be an evolution, rather than a revolution. Today, EVs comprise roughly 1% of the U.S. vehicle population, and industry projections show growth over the next 10 years to reach only about 4%.

Regardless, lead batteries will continue to facilitate the ICE-to-EV shift by supporting the full range of powertrain technologies. Here’s how:

  • Starting, Lighting and Ignition (SLI)
    Nearly every new car and truck, despite how powered, will continue to include a 12V lead battery for SLI functions.
  • Start-Stop Technology
    Automakers have long favored lead batteries for this energy efficient feature. Hybrid vehicles have always had start-stop technology, and its use in the global car parc is surging.
  • New Cars and Replacement Batteries
    Lead battery manufacturers will continue to provide new and replacement batteries for millions of ICE vehicles already on the road. Currently, 80% of the battery market is aftermarket.
Engine start-stop icon
Start-stop technology lowers fuel consumption by up to 10% and eliminates nearly 10 million tons of GHG emissions annually in the U.S.

Lead Batteries Remain Predominant Energy Storage Choice

In short, lead batteries will remain the predominant battery chemistry for the foreseeable future and essential to the mix of chemistries required. This is especially true as we move toward fully electric vehicles that accelerate the need for batteries. The sustainability profile and proven track record of lead batteries make them worthy of continued investment to unlock their full potential and meet demand.

David Shaffer from EnerSys

...batteries are a key technology enabler for new concepts of mobility connectivity and energy.

David M. Shaffer, President and CEO, EnerSys