Having unveiled the VARTA Promotive EFB truck battery in 2014, Johnson Controls is confident that the unit has demonstrated the battery’s premium performance in the years since its launch. European truck manufacturers have also put the VARTA EFB to the test to compare its performance and lifetime against standard truck batteries – many of which were said to be unable to cope with today’s energy demands. CVW spoke with Thorsten Werle, Design Lead Engineering for Trucks at Johnson Controls, to gain some insights into the fleet tests.
Q Why was there a need for the VARTA Promotive EFB?
Thorsten Werle (TW): There are new safety regulations for truck drivers, while distances continue to become longer and longer, resulting in many drivers spending five nights per week on the road. Trucks are therefore heavily equipped with entertainment devices, well-equipped kitchens, and more, with an overnight stay requiring approximately 50% of the battery’s capacity.
We believed the time was right to develop a battery that could handle such high demands and supply all the necessary power. Additionally, we needed a vibration resistant battery for end-of-frame installations of truck batteries, and so the VARTA Promotive EFB was developed.
Q How did the batteries perform in the leading European truck manufacturers’ tests?Were they able to validate the performance claims?
TW: We put a lot of effort into the development of our Truck EFB batteries to create a product with a truly unique technology, which meets the very highest requirements in this field. And we are glad to say, that it worked out.
This was proven when 50 trucks of a leading European truck manufacturer – with the most modern ‘hoteling’ functions – were equipped with the VARTA Truck EFB battery. Those trucks are on the road from Monday until Friday, and we have seen zero battery failures since their introduction.
Q Do you have other proof points or experiences from the market?
TW: Yes, another truck manufacturer equipped its whole fleet with VARTA Promotive EFB batteries in May 2014. The results confirm that this battery lasts up to 36 months, depending on user behavior.
Q Do you mean the driver can influence the battery’s lifetime?
TW: Yes, really easily – it’s often down to driver behaviour. While, in general, older truck drivers leave their truck during their break to meet with other drivers, younger drivers will often stay in their trucks watching movies and charging their smartphones. As a result, younger truck drivers often have higher energy consumption.
Q So the fleet operators need to ask the younger drivers to use fewer electronic devices?
TW: Not at all. Fortunately, the VARTA Promotive EFB can even handle the high demand of a sleeper cab and a young driver. But it can make sense to pass on a few tips that will extend the battery life. For instance, it’s always best if the electronic devices are being charged while driving, when the battery is also being recharged.
Q What makes your battery different?
TW: The result of the joint development with the leading truck manufacturers is a truly unique technology that meets the very highest OEM requirements for end-of-frame installation. The patented mixing element, exclusively developed by VARTA, optimises charge acceptance and increases service life by greatly reducing acid stratification.
We also have injection-moulded supports and an additional connector fixation which withstands even the toughest conditions on the road. An additional polyester scrim and glass mat separator ensure excellent adhesion of the grid to the mass. This means the mass is surrounded by a special mat so that it does not detach.
Q Does all this lead to a longer life cycle?
TW: Compared to conventional batteries, yes. Our tests have shown that five out of six selected batteries are not sufficiently vibration-resistant. The VARTA Promotive EFB, on the other hand, is unaffected by vibrations – our technology provides up to 40% longer life. Also, because the labyrinth cover design was especially developed by VARTA, it provides complete protection against leaks, even when tilted by up to 90 degrees. And it is completely maintenance-free; it is not necessary to top up the water over the battery’s lifetime, for example.
Q Is the battery also suitable for other applications?
TW: Buses and municipal vehicles, tractors, forestry and construction equipment are also profiting from this unique technology.