Automotive battery maker Varta AG has opened a new technology center in Hannover, Germany, close to its headquarters. The DM10 million (5.1 million) center includes laboratories, testing equipment and pilot lines.
Although Varta is continuing to work on lead-based battery systems, the new technology center will concentrate on nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) and lithium-ion batteries.
Varta says lead batteries have reached the limit of their technical capabilities in many areas. For example, lead batteries can no longer compete with the NiMH batteries in stop-start systems. Stop-start systems recover the energy normally lost during braking to assist acceleration. NiMH batteries are also more efficient and environmentally friendly than lead batteries, and are more suitable for use in electric vehicles.
Lithium-ion systems are used in high performance applications.
Varta is one of the European market leaders in batteries. Its automotive battery division had sales of A483 million in 1999, a rise of four percent compared with 1998. This increase was attributable to growth both in aftermarket sales and in original equipment.