WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR THE 12-VOLT BATTERY?

By Éric Descarries

The automotive world is changing rapidly. And the advent of electric cars is accelerating this change, which will require major innovations in tomorrow’s vehicles. Among these, the simple 12V battery is set to become more powerful.

In a recent Automotive News editorial, American journalist Richard Truett looks at the issue. Our current batteries already play a safety-critical role, even in an electrified vehicle. For example, in a car with an electric steering, there is no mechanical connection. If there is a loss of power from the main battery, the 12V battery will take over the steering power. This will be the case in a major collision, which will neutralize the main electricity. The 12V battery will then have to react to deploy the airbags and unlock the doors.

The batteries of the future will have to be more powerful to continue “feeding” the vehicle’s on-board computers even when they are inactive. The batteries currently used in internal combustion engine vehicles will no longer be powerful enough for EVs. That’s why some plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) from BMW and Mercedes-Benz already include two (heavy) lead-acid batteries. Truett predicts that 12V batteries could be replaced by lighter lithium-ion batteries. But major manufacturers, such as Clarios (the world’s largest battery manufacturer), believe that they would be more expensive and, above all, more difficult to recycle. Sodium-ion batteries, on the other hand, would be less expensive, as they would not use rare earths. The evolution of 12V battery technology will certainly be a subject to follow closely.

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