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Study sees gradual, focused replacement of lead-acid SLI batteries by Li-ion batteries over next couple of years

A study by a team of researchers from Germany and South Africa forsees the gradual replacement of lead-acid SLI (starter, lighting and ignition) batteries with Li-ion batteries over the next couple of years. In a paper in the Journal of Power Sources, they suggest that the replacement will probably be specific to certain vehicle OEMs and geographical locations.

In the paper, the team reviewed a range of factors specific to the use of Li-ion as an SLI battery in light of some of the technology challenges and market opportunities.

The advantages of a lithium-ion SLI battery would primarily be in terms of its longer cycle-life and weight reduction when it is considered as a ‘drop-in’ replacement option for the existing lead-acid battery, which has dominated the SLI application market for the last 100 years.

The researchers considered aspects of safety, cost, design and testing specifications n light of the emerging European battery legislations on the use of restrictive materials in vehicles.

The researchers also concluded that the energy market sector and its use of the lead-acid battery will continue to grow with significant expansion in use for storage in renewable energy systems. This energy sector is primarily driven by the need for low-cost with reasonably long cycle-life energy storage technology, for which the lead-acid battery is well suited.

The focused replacement of the SLI with the Li-ion type battery will be for medium-to high-end ICE vehicles that are primarily based in Europe, with some that are in Asian and United States. The Pb-acid SLI battery will still continue to be in demand for the many small and cheap ICE vehicles where cost of the battery replacement will always be the deciding factor.

This would especially be true for vehicle sales in developing countries, where the issues of CO2 emission penalties often do not apply and the type of SLI battery purchased would be a simple cost factor for the owner who would see a replacement every five years as more feasible than an expensive battery. There would probably also be an increase in the sale of second-hand ICE vehicles and ELV from Europe to developing countries, as the pressure to reduce the CO2 vehicle emissions will increase.

That will see an uptake of more hybrid-, plug-in hybrids and BEVs in the EU. There will still be a need for a 12 V battery for the supply of auxiliary power that will not necessarily be a Pb-acid SLI battery. In all likelihood, these batteries would be located away from the engine compartments in hybrid vehicles and would either be a typical deep cycle 12V AGM Pb-acid type battery or an equivalent Li-ion battery with similar nominal voltages.

—Ferg et al.


  • E.E. Ferg, F. Schuldt, J. Schmidt (2019) “The challenges of a Li-ion starter lighting and ignition battery: A review from cradle to grave,” Journal of Power Sources, Volume 423, 380-403 doi: 10.1016/j.jpowsour.2019.03.063



How much weight could you save, and at what cost ?
If you had a larger battery, could you charge it form the mains (to avoid using the alternator ?)


Current LFP products weigh about a third of lead acid equivalent so I would guess you could expect to save two thirds the weight of your existing battery with LFP.

The retail cost is probably in the range of 4-5x that of lead acid but manufacturers pay a fraction of retail so you are probably looking at $60-80 added to COGS and $100-200 to the retail price of a car.


That's right an LFP battery with 50 Amp-hr and 500 Cold Cranking Amps weighs around 15 pounds and an equivalent PBA battery around 40 pounds. Also posted recently that the 2019 Honda Insight uses a 12V AGM Pb-acid type battery mounted away from the engine compartment due to temperature requirements.
Every automobile - ICE, Hybrid or BEV requires a 12 volt battery to support ignition, lighting, and electronic applications (BEV 12 volt batteries are charged at the same time you charge the main BEV battery).
While AGM batteries are a lower cost solution than LFP batteries, this looks like a great opportunity to find a long life, low cost alternative (and probably not NiMH either).
Would a Prussian Blue Sodium Ion battery like the Natron battery work?


It would weigh less but cost more.
History shows people stay with what works.


SJC, until something better comes along.


Better is a judgment term, in what way and is that important?


Thanks for your comments.
For those who are not familiar with the Natron Battery let me give you a general description. The energy density is roughly equivalent to PBA, though it has high power, long life, and low cost.
The electrodes are Prussian Blue analogues and it has a sodium-ion electrolyte. The battery’s electrodes utilize the same type of materials based on elements known as “transition metals” that are useful because they can exhibit various charged states. The anode contains Manganese and the cathode, contains copper, nitrogen, carbon, and iron. These are very low cost, non-toxic materials. They are non-flammable during overcharge, short-circuit, overheating or when penetrated by nails.
Currently, Natron’s batteries are designed for stationary applications including industrial and grid-scale storage markets. The batteries are already in demonstration with 5 data storage customers, and Paris-based EDF is conducting evaluations of the technology, including lifetime testing.


Been using a small Li battery, made by Battery Tender in my riding mower for about three years now; has never let me down, always starts. There are Li batteries available as replacement starter batteries for automobiles; usually LiFeP chemistry with a battery protection capability and chargeable by the current alternator system. Race cars have been using them for about three years.

Cost is a big factor that's keeping them off the market along with planned obsolescence of lead batteries and a poorly educated populace about lithium Ion battery benefits.

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