Truck battery technology has had to adapt to meet the demands of today's electronically-rich vehicles. Now available to commercial truck owners and operators are batteries with substantially higher cranking power in a deep-cycle format that allows them to run electronics and hotel loads in the vehicle without worrying whether it will start after cycling the battery.

But electronic loads aren't the only factor affecting battery design. Increasing diesel prices, changing hours-of-service rules and no-idle regulations also mean today's batteries have to run more efficiently, according to Optima Batteries. To address these concerns, the company developed Spiralcell technology, which is used in its Group 31 YellowTop lead-acid battery for heavy-duty truck and equipment applications.

Spiralcell technology, Optima explains, immobilizes the chemical reaction inside the battery to allow more consistent power for longer periods of time. It also creates a more durable cell for increased battery life.

The manufacturer says it expects to see more fleets adopting this new technology as they come off several years' worth of field testing. While cost is still a major factor in a truck executive's purchasing decision, the company notes that fleets are increasingly also figuring downtime and maintenance expenses into the equation.

According to Interstate Battery Systems of America, the main concern for fleets is battery performance, including reliability and extended service life. The company addresses these needs by offering an extensive range of products for all aspects of the commercial market. In Group 31 batteries, for example, it offers seven different battery products with the Interstate label and additional products in the Optima and PowerVolt lines.

The manufacturer says it takes an active role in educating battery users about changing market requirements. Its most recent product introduction for commercial trucks was the Interstate 31-ECL (Extreme Cycle Life) battery, which was developed in direct response to industry need for a Group 31 battery that combines cranking power with high cycling capability.

Another good example of how commercial vehicles' requirements are evolving is in idling restrictions, which have been imposed on truck operators in recent years both by legislation and the high cost of diesel. At the same time, trucks are being equipped with more systems that require more electrical power to run. The increased burden on batteries has prompted a trend toward developing batteries that can perform well in the dual modes of cycling and starting, Interstate reports.

Remy Inc. has also been looking at ways to address changing vehicle usage profiles. One is the use of Ultracapacitor technology as a way to start vehicles and charge the batteries. The way electrical energy is used in today's vehicles calls for an energy storage system that is highly efficient and can fully discharge and charge repeatedly in very short periods of time. Ultracapacitors have the ability to bridge the performance gap between a battery and a traditional capacitor.

Delco Remy Heavy Duty Systems markets and resells the Road Gang line of batteries manufactured by Delphi. The batteries are designed for extended life and feature a totally maintenance-free design.

Earlier this year, East Penn Manufacturing Co. and Douglas Battery Manufacturing Co. entered into an agreement to transition the Douglas automotive battery business to East Penn. Douglas Battery's products include the Fleet Series of commercial batteries as well as a complete line of commercial and diesel starting batteries for on- and off-highway. East Penn produces a wife variety of lead-acid batteries for commercial vehicles under the Deka brand.

ACDelco says truck operators should be sure they spec the correct number of batteries for their vehicle/application. It says sometimes a fleet will pass up on the ideal system initially because of cost concerns, only to end up experiencing premature battery failures. The company offers fleets its Professional line of batteries that are designed for extremely long life, as well as its 60 Series maintenance-free battery.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CIRCLE NUMBER ON REPLY CARD:

ACDELCO 310
www.acdelco.com

DAYSTARTER NORTH AMERICA 311
www.daystarter.com

DELPHI COMMERCIAL VEHICLE SYSTEMS 313
www.delphi.com

DOUGLAS BATTERY MFG. 314
www.douglasbattery.com

EAST PENN MFG./DEKA 315
www.eastpenn-deka.com

INTERSTATE BATTERY SYSTEMS OF AMERICA 316
www.ibsa.com

OPTIMA BATTERIES 317
www.optimabatteries.com

REMY INC 312
www.remyinc.com