WHEN was the last time you checked the fluid level in your 4x4’s battery or batteries?
Not recently, I’m sure. Do your batteries even need the electrolyte level checked? Most modern batteries are sealed lead-acid, AGM, Li-Ion, or other high-tech construction that doesn’t require any regular maintenance.
Interestingly, Australia’s only manufacturer of automotive batteries, Century Batteries, has just made the switch to maintenance-free construction at its Brisbane manufacturing plant. Why should this be of interest if maintenance-free is nothing new to the market?
Well, as Australia’s sole manufacturer of batteries, Century is the only company that makes batteries for Australian conditions, and for Century Yuasa Batteries (CYB), that requires lead-acid batteries.
Take a Land Cruiser 70 Series as an example – it’s the favourite heavy-duty workhorse Australia-wide. That means that a 79 Series ute operating at low speeds in 45°C ambient conditions in a Kimberley mine needs a reliable 12-volt supply, just as much as a 78 Troop Carrier serving as an ambulance in the southern ski-fields at -10°C has to start first time, every time when responding to an emergency. That’s a massive variation in conditions and your touring 4x4 is a vehicle that, if you’re lucky, will experience both ends of the spectrum.
The sealed maintenance free (SMF) batteries include Century’s High Performance, Ultra-High Performance and Overlander 4x4 lead-acid batteries. Clever design elements include a unique ‘labyrinth’ battery top, added electrolyte capacity and improved plate construction. All this creates a longer-lasting, better-performing battery ideally suited for harsh Australian conditions.
The Century Overlander 4x4 battery has been tested at 75°C, which is hotter than the battery standard of 40°C and more indicative of the under-bonnet temperatures experienced here. The new batteries have also been found to provide superior cranking amperage (CCA) than equivalent-size old design units.
“Our new (SMF) batteries incorporate design enhancements and internal improvements to maximise performance, improve overall battery life and, in the majority of cases, deliver improved performance ratings,” Century’s training and development manager Johnny Kennedy said.
Batteries in 4x4 vehicles cope with a lot more than extreme temperature variations and a lack of maintenance. The roads they travel over can be incredibly punishing with bone-shaking corrugations, massive under-bonnet temperatures and regular discharging cycles as they are called on to power a range of 12-volt accessories commonly used by four-wheel drivers. While most of us use a dual battery system employing a starting battery and a deep-cycle battery for accessories in our 4x4s, CYB has taken its Overlander 4x4 battery to the next level with hybrid technology.
The new dual-purpose Overlander 4x4 battery uses calcium and antinomy plates to produce both reliable starting power and semi-cycling capabilities required for high accessory usage. This allows the battery to handle the discharge from additional accessories without damaging the internal components and harming the overall life of the battery.
The plates themselves are thicker full-frame cast plates for improved strength and durability and use Century’s exclusive Platelock Technology, an adhesive that binds the battery plates securely together to provide superior vibration and impact resistance. Just the stuff you need in your rough-and-tumble 4x4.
CYB makes its battery plates in-house at its Brisbane factory – 360,000 plates a day, or almost two million per week, using 55 tonnes of lead per week. That’s enough to make more than 1.5 million Aussie-made batteries per year.
The company has been making batteries in Australia for 88 years and has invested more than $3 million into upgrading the factory to manufacture the new SMF batteries.
“Century has a long history of manufacturing in Australia, starting in New South Wales 88 years ago,” Century’s Australasian automotive general manager Stu Stanners said.
“While a Reserve Bank study suggests the future for Australian manufacturing lies in conducting research, development and design at home while doing production offshore, we have invested millions of dollars to ensure we continue to be operational in Australia for years to come. Not to mention this is a damn good battery.”
While CYB imports some batteries for specialist applications such as motorcycles and AGM batteries, its core products are its Australian-made units. Yet it sees further changes ahead as vehicle technology evolves. Many vehicles are employing idle stop-start systems to reduce fuel consumption and emissions, and these require special heavy duty batteries not yet made here. Then there are the hybrid and full-electric vehicles that are also increasing in numbers, which again have specific needs.
Further investment will be required in the near future to produce these products locally and retain Century’s 600-strong workforce in Australia. Improved products and a vision of what lies ahead point to a strong future for Century Batteries and its Australian workers, so think of that the next time you go to buy a battery for your 4x4. CYB has a range of Australian-made batteries to suit most popular 4x4 vehicles.
For more details and to view the full range of batteries available, go to the company website.
CENTURY YUASA BATTERIES (head office)
Phone: (07) 3361 6161
Address: 49-65 Cobalt Street, Brisbane