EU automotive and battery industries welcome expert recognition of importance lead batteries

Brussels, 15 April 2016 – Official recognition by the Oeko Institute that there is no mass market alternative to lead-based batteries for most automotive applications has been welcomed by a group representing the automotive and battery industries of Europe.

The Institute’s recommendation to the European Commission for a continued exemption for lead batteries from the restriction on lead in vehicles under the End-of-Life-Vehicle (ELV) Directive supports many of the arguments put forward by the industry group. It also recognises the ongoing, intensive R&D initiatives of the automotive industry to find alternative battery applications.

The group generally accepts the Oeko Institute recommendation as a compromise between the objectives of the ELV Directive and the current needs of the automobile industry for a safe, reliable and proven mass-market battery technology. However, Europe’s automotive and battery industries believe that a five-year review period is the absolute minimum time required to investigate the suitability of alternative technologies, given the development time and the typical eight-year product cycle usually required in the automotive industry.

The Oeko Institute recommendation recognises the importance of lead-based batteries for virtually all types of road vehicles regardless of engine specification (conventional internal combustion engines, all mild and micro hybrid electric vehicles (HEV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and full electric vehicles (EV)).

Advanced lead-based batteries are used in all micro and mild-hybrid vehicles utilising start-stop technology, and achieve significant savings of CO2 emissions.  Lead-based batteries may also be used in the future for advanced hybrid applications, increasing the potential of CO2 savings.

Lead-based batteries have a number of advantages over other battery technologies in a number of key automotive features, such as cold cranking, safety, functional vehicle design, durability at high temperatures, and low cost. Moreover, they are currently the only battery technology that operates in closed-loop recycling in Europe, with 99% being collected and recycled for the manufacture of new automotive batteries - a perfect example of the circular economy already in action.

The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) said: “European automobile manufacturers are committed to design and to build vehicles that are safe and provide outstanding technical functionality to their customers. Even though significant investments are being made in the development of other technologies, lead batteries continue to be the preferable mass-market system for the foreseeable future, for technical and socio-economic reasons.”  

The Association of European Automotive and Industrial Battery Manufacturers (EUROBAT) said: “Europe is a major producer of lead-based batteries, which are essential in mass-market automotive applications. We recommend that the European Commission, the European Parliament and national experts support the continuation of the exemption.”

The International Lead Association (ILA) said: “We are pleased that this recommendation recognises the significant development in lead-battery technology over the past few years, in particular the important role that 48V lead batteries will have in the future evolution of advanced hybrid vehicles.  Whilst we recognise that the recommendation is a compromise, we question the Oeko Institute recommendation to end the exemption for high-voltage applications (75V and above), given the many benefits of lead batteries and the fact that they are the only technology that has closed-loop recycling.”

The lead battery industry is vital to the European economy.  It directly employs around 20,000 workers in Europe and has an annual turnover of approximately €5 billion.  Users of lead-based batteries include the automobile industry, which employs 12.1 million people and represents 5.6% of total EU employment.

This industry group includes the automobile manufacturers of Europe, Japan and South Korea (ACEA, JAMA and KAMA), the European battery industry (EUROBAT) and ILA, in conjunction with US automotive and battery industries. Together they represent the whole supply chain for lead batteries, including manufacturers and users of other battery technologies.

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Notes for editors

It should be noted that the information above is not relevant to high voltage batteries for use in electric-vehicles and full hybrid vehicles. The batteries used in these vehicles have different functionalities and requirements.   

Lead-based batteries are vital for the following applications in vehicle types:

  1. Starter-lighting-ignition (SLI) battery: these 12V batteries are required to start the engine and supply the complete electrical system (starter-lighting-ignition).
  2. On board supply battery: in addition to a traction battery used to power a vehicle (usually Li-based), all plug-in hybrid electric and full electric vehicles require a separate lead battery for functional safety, controls, comfort features and redundancy.
  3. Start-Stop and Hybrid applications: advanced lead batteries are used in all hybrid vehicles utilising start-stop technology, thereby leading to significant CO2 savings.  Lead batteries may also be used in the future for hybrid applications increasing the potential CO2 savings further. 

About the industry group partners

  • EUROBAT is the association for the European manufacturers automotive, industrial and energy storage batteries. EUROBAT has 52 members from across the continent comprising more than 90% of the battery industry in Europe. The members and staff work with all stakeholders, such as battery users, governmental organisations and media, to develop new battery solutions in areas of hybrid and electro-mobility as well as grid flexibility, renewable energy storage and demand response services www.eurobat.org
     
  • The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) represents the 15 Europe-based car, van, truck and bus manufacturers: BMW Group, DAF Trucks, Daimler, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford of Europe, Hyundai Motor Europe, Iveco, Jaguar Land Rover, Opel Group, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Renault Group, Toyota Motor Europe, Volkswagen Group, Volvo Cars, Volvo Group. More information can be found on http://www.acea.be or @ACEA_eu.
     
  • Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) is a non-profit industry association which comprises Japan’s 14 manufacturers of passenger cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles. JAMA works to support the sound development of Japan’s automobile industry and to contribute to social and economic welfare.
     
  • Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA) is a non-profit organization, representing the interests of automakers in Korea. KAMA is also dedicated to the sound growth of the automobile industry and the development of the national economy.
     
  • International Lead Association (ILA) is a membership body that supports companies involved in the mining, smelting, refining and recycling of lead. The ILA represents the producers of about 3 million tons of lead.  ILA’s work has a broad focus, covering all aspects of the industry’s safe production, use and recycling of lead and supports the work of the Advanced Lead Acid Battery Consortium.

Contact
For more information, please contact Cara McLaughlin, Communications Director, cm@acea.be, +32 2 738 73 45 or +32 485 88 66 47.