Issue: Oct 2010


THE CAR BECOMES GREEN WITH FIAMM



by Steve Barclay

The Fiamm Group is one of the stars of innovation in the field of sustainable mobility. The multinational company based in Italy is participating in the Mondial de l’Automobile 2010 in Paris from 2 to 17 October, pavilion 3, stand no. D 437. Its presence at the Paris Motor Show provides FIAMM with an occasion for presenting the new range of technological solutions for sustainable mobility.
In recent years, the FIAMM Group has been making significant investments in research and innovation in order to grasp both the evolution of technology and the new needs of the market. FIAMM’s range has become greener with its new salt batteries for electric traction, the batteries with AFB and AGM technology for Start-Stop systems and the new horns specifically designed for the safety of electric vehicles.

FZ Sonick: green energy, green world

The FIAMM Group is proposing zero-impact solutions based on ZEBRA SONICK nickel sodium chloride technologies (salt batteries) for electrically powered public transport vehicles, logistical services and private electric vehicles. 

FIAMM is tackling the salt battery business for electric vehicles with a dedicated company, FZ Sonick SA, based in Switzerland, the fruit of an agreement initialled in 2010 by FIAMM and by MES-DEA, a Swiss company specialized in the production of nickel sodium chloride accumulators for electric vehicles. 

The birth of FZ Sonick SA confirms the success of the ambitious project launched five years ago by FIAMM Strategic Development which believed in the great potential of salt batteries: a technology which provides considerable advantages in terms of ecology (energy savings, 100% recyclability) and of efficiency (maximum resistance to temperature swings, high cycle number, no maintenance, maximum safety, long life and a significant reduction in running costs) so much so that today it is deemed the most concrete, reliable and efficient solution for meeting the needs of sectors in which traditional lead batteries are inadequate. 

The salt battery market for electric traction continues to develop: today salt batteries are used in electric buses in service in various European capitals and American cities and the demand is also growing for cars (the first European fleet of electric vehicles intended for the mail service will be equipped with ZEBRA batteries: the French Post Office has ordered several hundred vehicles which will come into service in 2010), but there are also notable opportunities in other sectors such as air, sea and rail.
Finally, FIAMM Sonick technology is capable of meeting growing market demands in the uninterruptible power supply sector and in the field of generation and distribution of energy from renewable sources.

“Salt batteries,” says Nicola Cosciani, head of Fiamm Strategic Development and Managing Director of FZ Sonick, “constitute a consolidated technology and they are more advantageous than lithium batteries in terms of greater safety and life. The batteries are the most important technological components of electric cars and their performance depends on them: it is therefore decisive for users to know their performance and specifications when selecting from the range. We decided to participate in the Mondial de l’Automobile in order to propose our technology in an international showcase dedicated to the motoring world while also being attentive to the technological evolution for sustainable mobility.”

Start-Stop technologies and horns for electric vehicles

The challenge of reducing pollutant emissions has been grasped by the new FIAMM ECOFORCE starter batteries with AGM and AFB technology for equipping the new Micro HEVs (Hybrid Electric Vehicles). These vehicles require the use of a battery capable of supporting electric systems for reducing emissions and that therefore resist continuous and frequent starts and countless charging and discharging cycles. 

EcoForce AFB (Advanced Flooded Battery) is the best solution for compact cars fitted with a Start-Stop system only: in tailbacks or at traffic lights it provides power to all the electrical components when the engine is automatically turned off by the system and ensures that the car will start reliably and promptly when it is required to move off again. 

EcoForce AGM (Absorbent Glass Material), on the other hand, is the indispensable battery for micro-hybrid car models with Start-Stop devices, Brake Energy Regeneration and other consumption saving technologies. AGM construction technology and gas recombination guarantee higher starting powers, absence of maintenance, resistance to charging/discharging cycles four times higher than traditional batteries and the maximum safety for installations even inside the vehicle.

As far as horns are concerned, FIAMM will be presenting the MSH (Multi Sound Horn), a horn which not only generates the standard sound, but also a set of acoustic alarms such as reversing warning, ‘hand brake on’ sensor, high temperature warning and beeper. Tests confirm that the MSH has an extremely long life, above a million cycles. Given its versatility, moreover, this horn can also be installed in electric vehicles and thanks to special personalized software it is possible to create specific sounds such as a pedestrian warning for example.

The FIAMM Group, founded in 1942, produces and distributes car starter batteries and batteries for industrial use (UPS, power reserves) and horns. It is present in 60 countries with around 3000 employees all over the world and about 950 in Italy. The turnover for 2010 is expected to reach €480 million. The company's main markets are Italy (26%) and the rest of Europe (51%), where direct sales to car manufacturers (BMW, Fiat-Chrysler, Ford, Mercedes, GM-Opel, PSA, Renault-Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen) account for about 30% of revenues.


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