FIAMM, an Italian Group present worldwide, has several business lines (Starter Batteries, Horns, Industrial Batteries, Antennas) and generates around 70% of its sales turnover abroad. It avails of 11 production units (Italy, Switzerland, the USA, the Czech Republic, Brazil, India and China), more than 20 sales and technical offices and a widespread network of importers and distributors.
Over the last few years, FIAMM has made important investments in research and innovation, so as to embrace the technological changes and the new markets requirements, paying great attention to the development of ecological solutions for sustainable mobility.
Today, the energy requirement of modern vehicles demands batteries which maintain power over the long-term. Specifically, faced with measures for reducing CO2 emissions envisaged by the European Union, the vehicle manufacturers have developed models equipped with devices which reduce said emissions. These devices require batteries specially designed and created, such as the ECOFORCE range.
Reduction of emissions
The European Commission established that by the end of 2012, the average pollutant CO2 emissions from vehicles registered in the European Union will not be able to exceed 130g/Km, compared with the 160 g/Km currently envisaged. The challenges posed for vehicle manufacturers will lead to considerable changes in vehicle production, involving growth in demand for advanced and specific batteries for hybrid vehicles. In relation to the changed legislative context, various authoritative studies have identified scenarios in which the diffusion of hybrid vehicles in the European Union in 2020 will amount to between 7 and 16 million (source Roland Berger – Boston Consulting Group).
The challenge of reducing pollutant emissions is that seized by the new range of FIAMM ECOFORCE starter batteries using AGM and AFB technology, destined to be applied in the new Micro HEV (Hybrid Electric Vehicle) vehicles. These vehicles in fact require the use of a battery capable of supporting the electrical systems containing the emissions, therefore withstanding continual and frequent start-ups and numerous charge and discharge cycles.
The hybrid vehicles can count on two forms of propulsion : one involving internal combustion (petrol, diesel, etc..) and the other electric. Obviously, different levels of “hybridization” of said vehicle exist in relation to the electrical architecture and the reduction in consumption and emissions.
The vehicles which belong to the Micro Hybrid category feature the Start/Stop function and can also be equipped with a system for recovering the braking energy (BER). The start/stop device switches the engine off when the vehicle stops (typically when waiting at the traffic lights) and starts it up again when the driver presses down on the clutch pedal to re-engage the gear. In stop situations, all the electrical devices (lights, air-conditioning, stereo system, navigation system, telephone, etc..) are powered by the battery. The braking energy regeneration device, if present, also takes steps to recover the energy produced by the vehicles, accumulating it in the battery. These two devices require a battery which can support numerous and frequent starts, as well as continual charge and discharge cycles. FIAMM has also studied a specific sensor capable of monitoring the charge status of the battery on an on-going basis so that an optimum reserve of energy is always ensured for all the electrical and electronic devices
FIAMM processing on forecast market data estimates that in the European Union the demand for replacement batteries for Micro Hybrid vehicles will come to 2.5 / 3 million units in 2012.
The FIAMM solution to the needs of Micro Hybrid vehicles is ECOFORCE and is structured in two different technologies : AFB for vehicles which only feature the Start/stop device, AGM for vehicles with Start/stop and BER.
AFB (Advanced Flooded Battery) technology
This is the best solution for “compact” vehicles, typically segment A and B, equipped with just the Start/Stop device. The battery stands out due to the resistance to the cycle which is twice that of a traditional battery; the technological differences are seen in the greater reserve of electrolyte, matrixes in special Lead Calcium Tin alloy, composition of the active mass with higher carbon content, layer of organic fibre and expanders, to withstand the numerous Stop/Start cycles.
AGM (Absorbent Glass Material) technology
This is the ideal solution for vehicles in the medium and premium segments, equipped with start/stop and BER devices. The main feature is provided by the gas recombination technology. Thanks to a special micro-porous separator (Absorbent Glass Material) impregnated with a controlled quantity of electrolyte, the oxygen freed by the positive plate for dissociation of the water during the charging phase, migrates to the negative plate where recombining with the hydrogen, it restores the water which was dissociated. A closed electrochemical cycle is thereby established, without emitting gas into the atmosphere and without consuming the water reserve.
FIAMM can boast consolidated experience with regard to the design and development of batteries with this technology; the AGM batteries already manufactured in the Group factories number several million.
The ECOFORCE AGM batteries are made with great precision with regard to construction and accurate selection of the components so that they are able to successfully pass the stringent stop/start tests required by the most prestigious vehicle manufacturers.
FIAMM always recommends the installation of ECOFORCE AFB / AGM batteries for Micro Hybrid vehicles; the use of traditional batteries not specifically designed for these vehicles could be dangerous. In the event of replacement, it is always necessary to observe and maintain the technology of the initial battery the vehicle was equipped with.