History of the car battery

History of the Car Battery

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The car battery, it's one of those things that nobody notices or really (if we're honest) cares about until there's a problem with it. You notice it more when it’s not there. From September 2013 - September 2014, the RAC dealt with 466,518 calls in the UK regarding car batteries, and if you've ever had to pull the jump leads out and give your car battery a helping hand, you'll know from first-hand experience that it's better to ensure that your battery is in working order than have to ask someone to give you a jump.

So this little box that hides away under the bonnet is a very important part of the car, so let’s take a look at where it came from and what makes it so essential.


Unless you're super-green and drive an electric car, it's very likely that your car will have a lead-acid battery. The lead-acid battery was invented by a Frenchman called Gaston Planté in 1859 - twenty six years before the car was even invented. Little did Mr. Planté know, we’d be using his technology for hundreds of years to come.


The SLI (Starting, Lighting and Ignition) car battery as we know it today was brought into existence in 1971, this is when the sealed car battery was invented. The sealed battery doesn't need any water to make it work, meaning that corrosion is no longer an issue; good news for all car owners!

As technology in cars advanced through the 80's and 90's with the addition of tape and CD players, electronic driver aids and right up to this day of in-built sat navs, the car battery had to keep up to power all this new and exciting technology. So batteries became more powerful and more compact.

The introduction of start-stop technology meant that the car battery once again had to up its game to cope with the demand of modern vehicles. Start-stop (also referred to as stop-start) is when the car turns itself off when stationary, putting added importance on the battery to perform. Cars with this technology were fitted with AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) batteries which are quicker to charge and offer a faster response rate, which is ideal when a red light turns green and you’re at the front of the queue.

How Does It Work?

Now we get to the technical bit where we look at how the car battery actually works. Considering it's such an important part of the car - your car will not start without one - an understanding into what makes it work could be valuable.

The standard car battery is 12V (volts), made up of six cells that put out 2.1V of energy each, making up the 12.6V of a fully charged battery. The battery actually works by a series of chemical reactions producing chemical energy which is then converted into enough electrical energy to power your car.

Your car battery has come a long way since it was first invented to make sure that your car starts every day and that all the gadgets and toys work and keep you going and you entertained whilst you're driving. Take good care of your battery, and it will take good care of you!

(And don’t forget to turn your lights off!)

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