Lithium-ion or lead acid battery electric vehicle? Sunil Bhatnagar from Microlyte sheds some light

Currently, lead acid batteries have an edge over the lithium-ion units in terms of numbers, however the latter is expected to have an edge in the future.

By: | Published: November 22, 2019 6:07 PM
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Electric vehicles these days have got either Lithium-ion batteries or lead acid units. A buyer is usually confused as more often than not, there is a cost factor involved as well as the battery life, charging time and let's not forget, the warranty being offered. Worry not, we have got you covered. We had a quick conversation with Sunil Bhatnagar, the country head-energy division, Bhagwati Products Limited on this. Sunil was gracious enough to shed some light on this. By the way, Bhagwati Products Limited is the umbrella under which the new Microlyte battery manufacturing brands sits. The brand was established two years ago and at present has one operational factory, with two more in the pipeline. This entire operations is part of the Micromax group. Yes, the ones famous for their cell phones. Now that we have got the gyaan out of the way, let's focus on the differentiation between a li-ion and lead acid battery.

Sunil says that Microlyte exclusively manufactures only Li-ion batteries. He envisions them as the future of not only mobility but also many other applications. He starts off elaborating the difference between the two types of batteries by saying that lead acid units are not environment-friendly. There is lead, which is a known carcinogen while other harmful chemicals in these type of batteries is the sulphuric acid. Construction of a lead acid battery makes it bulkier than the rest too. Since all the components in these kind of batteries are easily available, they are cost effective as well. However, the shelf life is only up to three years. In the same vein, the charging time is minimum 6-8 hours. This means a vehicle with this battery might have to be kept plugged in overnight. The lead acid batteries are bulky and hence five 100ah batteries that might be used in an autorickshaw will add up to 120kg weight.

On the contrary, Lithium is environment-friendly. Batteries made of li-ion are the green ones. A li-ion battery is usually compact and hence doesn't occupy much space or mass. Five 100ah li-ion batteries will cost around 40kg, significantly less than a lead acid unit.  This enables a better range as the vehicle has to lug less dead weight around. Sunil explains that the charging time of a li-ion battery is much lower and one gets a full charge in less than 2-3 hours. Of course, fast charging technology is available with li-ion batteries and this cuts down the time significantly. He cited an example of an electric autorickshaw driver. Suppose he starts off at 6am and by 2pm, he runs out of battery, the driver can come home, have food and charge the batteries. With an afternoon siesta thrown in, the driver will be ready to get back on the road by 4pm, thereby enabling more trips and hence enhanced income. If it was a lead acid battery, the recharge time will be higher and probably the driver might have to wait till 7pm to start going out on rounds again.

If we talk about the shelf life of a lithium ion battery, then it can be up to six years, Manufacturers offer a warranty of one year on a lead acid unit whereas some magnamious ones will provide an additional year. However, all li-ion batteries come with a two year warranty with some stretching it to three years as well.

In the end, a li-ion battery is weighed down by its price. You see, Lithium is a rare metal. More often than not, procuring it is a task and hence the higher initial costs. It helps that over the years, due to mass demand, the prices have gone down. So, a replacement battery unit might not be as costly as you imagine.

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