Most drivers take car batteries for granted and don't think of them as important car components. However, car batteries are irreplaceable parts of every vehicle and crucial components in proper functioning of your car. Without electric power, you wouldn't be able to start or driver your car, not to mention listening to the music, turning on the headlights, using the A/C and so much more. Basically, cars run on petrol or diesel and electricity. That is why we will tell you more about the history of the car battery itself and the difference in technology between old and new car batteries.
Contrary to popular belief, first cars didn't have car batteries in form we have today and their electric systems were extremely limited. In the 1920s, first electric starters became standard features in new models and first car batteries as we know them started to appear. However, they were not very powerful or durable and needed regular maintenance. In the last 100 years or so, car batteries endured many changes and evolved from unreliable, big, expensive and heavy items to advanced and dependable components which rarely fail. So, let's see major differences between old and new and just how far the technology has advanced in this field.
One of the main differences were electric systems, and all the way to the late '50s and early '60s, all cars used 6 Volts which was far more primitive than today's 24 Volt systems. The reason was simple, older cars have less electronic devices and in those days, a battery was used only for starting of the vehicle and for headlights, nothing more.
However, as cars became more complicated and radios were installed along with interior lights and other features, there was a need for a more powerful system and in the mid-60s, all manufacturers turned to 12 Volt systems which are still in use. Of course, this change affected the car battery technology and construction.
The basic car battery construction hasn't changed but the materials and maintenance procedures have. The old ones required regular maintenance in form of electrolyte refills & distillated water or battery acid. Every once in a while you had to open your car battery and pour liquid in it. However, today's maintenance-free batteries are sealed and don't require anything to function properly.
For long, the main ingredients of car batteries were metal (lead) plates along with battery acid and that is the main reason why car batteries are pretty heavy considering they are quite small in size. Most modern cars use the same type but the future is in lithium-ion car batteries which are much smaller and lighter and still capable of producing the same amount of electric energy. For those who don't know, lithium-ion battery is the same type as the one used in smartphones and portable devices and is light, powerful and durable but also pretty expensive for use in vehicles.