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Exide in Italy has expanded its production of batteries for cars with Start & Stop systems and has launched a tester for replacing batteries in Volkswagen-Audi and BMW cars. And without overlooking training

Fabio Quinto

NEW BATTERIES, new tools for workshops, new training courses: these are the three new developments presented by Exide, the American company that has one of its main factories at Romano di Lombardia (Bergamo), Italy. Let’s begin with the batteries: with an investment of €25 million, the multinational increased the production capacity of its factory in Lombardy to 1.5 million Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) batteries. This type of product is for cars in the mid-high range (they have been chosen by BMW, Volkswagen, Peugeot, Citroën, Renault, Land Rover and Jaguar) with Start & Stop systems and Regenerative Braking (Micro-Hybrid), the system that recovers energy whenever the brake is used.  Compared to a standard product, these batteries have three times more cycling resistance. The acid inside them is not in the liquid state, but is completely absorbed by special fibreglass separators. Exide, which has a 41% share of the European market for batteries suitable for Start & Stop systems, also offers an Enhanced Cycling Mat (ECM) battery. Suitable for mid-range cars fitted with Start & Stop, the acid inside them is liquid as in standard products. This technology was chosen by the Fiat Group, Toyota, Volkswagen, Skoda, Peugeot and Suzuki. In this case, cycling resistance is twice that of normal batteries.
But there’s more: Exide has also launched a new line of batteries that are suitable for the new Euro 6 trucks. To make room for post-treatment systems like SCR, EGR and anti-particulate filters, in some models the batteries have been moved to the end of the tractor unit chassis, an area that is subject to considerable vibration. This is why the company has launched a new range of HVR® (High Vibration Resistant) batteries. They are housed in a reinforced monobloc container that is blocked at the sides, the plate units are fixed to the base by a blocking resin, the connections are reinforced by special pins, and a plastic insert is designed to guarantee 3D blocking of the plate unit, the immobilization of the plastic insert by means of resin and lateral fixing of the plate unit with pockets blocked by resin after insertion.
In the area of workshop tools, Exide has launched a new BRT-12 tester for resetting error messages during battery replacement in Volkswagen-Audi or BMW cars. The tool is suitable for workshops that do not have diagnostic equipment: 25% according to Exide’s market research. The BRT-12 represents a low-cost alternative. Not only: the tool is also suitable for workshops that have a diagnostics device, but don’t want to use it just for replacing a battery.
It’s not like it used to be” – the Exide technicians emphasized – “replacing a battery can be anything but a simple operation. In the most modern vehicles, the battery is strictly linked to the power distribution system and the electronic control unit. So when a battery has to be replaced, you have to take into consideration the impact it will have on the control unit and on any Start & Stop system installed”. Some manufacturers, like the Volkswagen-Audi group, require a code to be inserted when the battery is replaced; others (BMW) might show an error message when the battery is replaced and it will remain until the system is updated after replacement. The BRT-12 tester is compact (it fits into the palm of the hand) and protected by a rubber sheath. It has a high-contrast OLED display and 6 buttons for full control of all operations. It is connected to the OBD socket in the vehicle so an external supply is not required. Step-by-step instructions are shown on the display. The BRT-12 can be used to insert codes when necessary, reset error messages, reset the relevant control unit memory, reconfigure the system by inserting information about the new battery and display the details. BRT-12 has also been configured to receive updates if other manufacturers request codes to be introduced or battery replacement warning lights to be reset. Updates can be downloaded free by connecting the tester to a computer.
The third and last Exide development is training. The company has presented Exide Academy, a battery-specific training program. Developed at European level, the program includes business subjects like how to increase workshop profitability and gives technical support linked to Start & Stop technology. As support, Exide Academy educators use an iPad that is wirelessly connected to the projector and makes the course completely interactive: it is possible to go from one section of the training program to another at any time, find out more about a subject by selecting an icon, enlarge the image of a product and rotate it in any direction. “We want to provide a really engaging training experience and the iPad makes this possible” stated Federico Montessori, commercial manager of Exide’s Transportation Division. “Customers can either examine all the material or search through it quickly to find the answers to the most frequently asked questions. We are giving them the chance to choose the training route they prefer as independently as possible in addition to providing innovative technological support and offering the skills for growing their company’s battery business”.

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