Written on June 21, 2014 at 5:55 pm
Manbat Q & A
In a press release sent out on 28 May, Myles Pemberton said that in recent years a host of very cheap, low quality batteries have flooded the market and disrupted its balance. What aspects of these batteries make them low quality or otherwise unsuitable for the vehicles they are fitted to?
Many batteries are thought to have entered into the market with capacities listed that are not necessarily delivered after their installation. Other products have been openly reduced in capacity to be able to meet an unrealistic pricing point demanded by many customers, particularly in the automotive sector.
What are the risks motorists face if they fit these batteries?
It is inevitable that the fitting of a battery with a capacity that is not suitable for the intended application will offer a reduced service life and increase the potential for premature failure. This would be particularly true for those who use the vehicle regularly, but only for short journeys, or where the vehicle is only used periodically.
Do the entry-level products in the rebranded Numax range go head to head against the cheap competition in terms of price? How do they differ qualitatively?
All Numax batteries are produced on our (Manbat’s) behalf by original equipment (OE) supplying battery manufacturers. The majority of the types (case sizes/terminal configuration etc. in contrast to the capacity, which is measured in A/h) within the Premium and Supreme ranges are produced by Johnson Controls (JCI), which is globally the largest OE manufacturer. The Numax Standard range offers a high build quality with a power capacity that you would not normally expect to see in an entry-level product, and at a price that offers good value.
What share of the UK battery market do cheap, low quality batteries hold? What share does the Manbat family of products hold?
As we are not concentrating our efforts in the cheap low quality end of the market, we tend not to over analyse it. The Numax brand is one of the strongest in the UK and as a result of consumer confidence in its quality, is the market leader in the leisure and marine sectors. Whilst we accept there is a demand for lower cost products, our aim is to maintain consumer support for our customers by concentrating on good value products without compromising on quality. We believe that our Numax Standard range achieves this objective.
Manbat battery range
The automotive battery range Manbat offers includes a number of brands. Is it inevitable that some of these products compete against other batteries in the Manbat portfolio, or do you strive wherever possible to avoid covering the same market segments with more than one product line?
Having three strong brands actually helps to ensure that none of them are over distributed in any given area. The Numax, Lucas and VARTA® brands each have different appeal to enable us to match more closely our brands to the customers requirement and market positioning.
Do you have any new products or developments to report from any of your battery brands?
Manbat has recently introduced a new range topping commercial vehicle battery under the renowned Lucas brand.
The new Lucas Supreme range of four part numbers, which are available with 140, 170, 180 and 225 Ah capacities, are designed for high performance commercial vehicles with large power demands and high vibration resistance requirements.
Each model in the Supreme CV range incorporates the very latest in original equipment technology, such as a specialist lid design to minimise water consumption by recycling condensed water vapour back into the electrolyte and punched plate grids, to optimise conductivity and ensure low resistance and reduce power loss.
This means that the batteries within the Supreme CV range not only provide high starting efficiency and possess exceptional corrosion resistance, they are also extremely economic for CV operators to run as they are totally sealed and completely maintenance free.
The high performance nature of the Supreme range is reflected in their specification, which exceeds EN4 V3 SHD (Super Heavy Duty) requirements for extreme vibration resistance.
The Supreme range supplements the existing 28- strong Lucas Premium CV and Lucas Classic CV offerings, which together provide CV operators with a complete range of options to satisfy the requirements of their entire fleet.
Manbat and Ecobat
Manbat recently updated its corporate logo to bring it more in line with the Ecobat Technologies identity. Why do you consider it important to have a logo that makes you more identifiable as an Ecobat company?
It was not a requirement to align our corporate logo more closely to that of our parent company, but it was time to refresh it and was therefore an opportunity to combine the identities of both organisations. The new logo retains its heritage by keeping the Snowdonia mountains (beneath which the company was first created), whilst changing the style to mirror that of our parent company ECOBAT, therefore reflecting the strength that exists behind Manbat today.
In what other ways has Manbat changed since 2009 in order to align it more with Ecobat? What, if any, changes are planned for the future?
Although aligned in all things financial, governance and administration systems, Manbat has been pretty much allowed to retain its ‘family’ type operating style. Since 2009 ECOBAT has invested in our aspiration to grow the business within the UK and Ireland, whilst using our knowledge to assist in its own aspiration to expand in Europe. During this time Manbat’s annual turnover has grown from £34m to approaching £50m and ECOBAT has acquired businesses in Holland, France and Belgium, and taken European battery volumes close to the 2 million units per year mark.
A key benefit of being part of the ECOBAT Technologies group is our association with sister company G&P batteries. G&P is the leading collector of scrap batteries in the UK and we work very closely with them to ensure that the scrap that we recover from our customers is done so in a legally compliant and efficient way, which allows us to recycle 99.97% of each battery. Scrap batteries represent a strong profit opportunity for our customers and we are keen to help them to unlock this.
What are the main opportunities Manbat sees in the battery market?
With the growth in vehicles fitted with Start-Stop technology, which next year is expected to reach 70% of all the cars manufactured for sale in Europe, there will be a seismic shift in the workshop as technicians come to terms with the requirements for replacing the batteries on these vehicles.
Gone will be the days of a simple five-minute one out and another in ‘swap’ that many workshops carry out as a free service, to be replaced by a far more complicated procedure that could take several hours and require specialist equipment to enable the replacement battery to communicate with the vehicles battery management system and prevent the activation of a host of warning lights on the dashboard.
It is therefore very important for workshops to be up to speed with the technology and able to explain why these installations will no longer be a free service, but require trained professionals with specialist knowledge. Once this reality is understood, Start-Stop battery replacement then becomes a legitimate revenue opportunity for the workshop whilst providing peace of mind to the motorist.
What products does Manbat offer for hybrid vehicles?
By far the most common ‘hybrid’ vehicle is, and will remain, the micro-hybrid, otherwise known as a vehicle fitted with a start-stop system (see the answer above). Traditional lead-acid batteries are not appropriate for these vehicles as they are unable to deal with the demands the system puts on them. Instead the batteries are specifically designed to be able to deal with multiple engine starts and possess a high cyclic capacity (the ability to charge/discharge/charge). Entry-level vehicles tend to use enhanced flooded batteries (EFB), whereas vehicles with a high specification use absorbent glass mat (AGM) batteries.
Manbat is the primary UK distribution partner for the VARTA® brand, whose owner JCI is the global leader in start-stop battery technology. As a result it stocks the complete range of VARTA® Blue Dynamic EFB and Silver Dynamic AGM, which provide the solution for any start-stop battery replacement.
For further details, please call Manbat Customer Services on: 01743 218500 or visit: www.manbat.co.uk