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Why EVs need a 12V battery – with Advance Auto Parts

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When people start talking about EVs, the big ol’ lithium-ion battery tends to get a lot of the limelight. But EVs have dozens of other components needed to make them operate as expected, including another, smaller battery. Just like a car with an internal combustion engine, most EVs require a 12V battery in addition to the big one at center stage.

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In fact, the 12V battery is supremely important to successful EV operation. But why? And what makes a 12V battery in an EV different than one you’d find in any other vehicle?

To answer our questions, we’ve invited Allison Lentz Bubar, SVP of marketing & DIT strategy at Advance Auto Parts onto the show.

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Here’s a transcript of the show:

David Sickels: Hello and welcome back to the Amped EV Podcast. My name is David Sickels. I am the editor for the Buzz.

Nadine Battah: And my name is Nadine Battah. I’m the multimedia senior editor for Tomorrow’s Technician.

David Sickels: It’s always good to have you on.

Nadine Battah: Thank you for having me.

David Sickels: Today we are talking about a topic that… I have to admit, I really wasn’t aware of this until these folks came to us. So the big battery, that gives an EV its range, right?

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Nadine Battah: Sure. A little bit. I can’t really confidently say that I know a lot about batteries.

David Sickels: But you know enough about how it goes.

Nadine Battah: Sure. Yeah. That’s why I’m here. I’m here to learn, David.

David Sickels: Well, I’m here to inform.

Nadine Battah: Okay, see, there you go. That’s why I like our friendship. It works out. I feel like I learned the last time I was on the show and I’m going to learn a lot this time too.

David Sickels: So are you aware that there’s also a smaller battery that goes in the EV?

Nadine Battah: No way.

David Sickels: It’s true. It’s absolutely true. And that’s why we invited Allison Bubar. She’s the SVP of Marketing in DIY strategy at Advanced Auto Parts. We invited her onto the show. They just recently released earlier this year, a 12 volt diehard EV battery. Specifically made for EVs and hybrids.

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Nadine Battah: Oh wow. Well I’m really looking forward to tackling this and really just digesting the survey that they ran back in April as well too. So I’m looking forward to this, David.

David Sickels: Right on. Let’s get to the interview.

Nadine Battah: Let’s do it.

David Sickels: Allison, thank you so much for joining us on the show today. I think this is going to be really exciting. Thank you for your time. Tell us a little bit about yourself and also your time with Advanced Auto Parts.

Allison Lentz Bubar: Sure. Thanks and thanks for having me here. So Allison, I’ve been with Advanced Auto Parts for 12 years. Before that I was with Stanley Black & Decker for eight years in field and marketing roles. Love for batteries started there. So at Advance I’ve worked on both sides of our business. So our professional business as well as our DIY business. And I’ve had a variety of different roles. So strategy and transformation, marketing and operations, real estate and store operations as well. And so most recently I’ve been the general manager of our Diehard brand as well as DIY strategy. And so that is what I’m excited to talk with you about.

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David Sickels: Excellent. So I want to get right into this national survey that Advanced Auto Parts commissioned back in April. I found some of the findings here really interesting. So you reported that only 58% of EV owners surveyed saw tire rotations as required maintenance as opposed to 84% of ice vehicle owners. And also that 66% of EV owners surveyed knew their vehicle has power steering. So why do you think that the survey went this way?

Allison Lentz Bubar: So vehicles, powered by internal combustion engines, hybrids, EVs, are all complex vehicles in their own way. And as a society, we are much more familiar with ICE vehicles. And so naturally that leads itself to the DIY knowledge kind of being passed down generation to generation. And one of the things that I have the opportunity as part of my job, is be able to talk and sit with our DIY consumers. And I get so excited to hear about where their DIY knowledge comes from. And comes from being in the garage with their dad and it gets passed down just over time.

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Allison Lentz Bubar: And so I really think it comes down to knowledge and education around repairing hybrids. And EVs is still being acquired both by the DIYer as well as our automotive and partner professionals. And so, one of the things that we are very focused on at Advance is those education efforts. Education efforts for our professional shops. And we want to make sure that that education is available both for professional as well as DIYers. Because I think that’s really a big driver to why the survey went that way.

Nadine Battah: That’s awesome. The survey also showed that only 16% of EV owners knew that their vehicle uses both low and high-voltage batteries. Why does an EV need a 12-volt battery in addition to its big heavy lithium-ion battery?

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Allison Lentz Bubar: Yeah, yeah, it’s a great question. And so it’s important to think about the batteries kind of working in partnership together. So that 12 volt really works in partnership with the high voltage with lithium-ion battery. And so the 12 vol plays a really critical role. So it actually starts the vehicle. It enables the connectors to actually move the vehicle and drive. And if that high voltage shuts down or it fails, it performs a really critical safety functions to get that vehicle over to the side of the road or to be able to help support that vehicle in a really safe way. And it also as if it’s overloaded, it’ll help carry some of the load. So they really do play a very critical and important role. And I think that 12-volt battery is going to be around for quite some time as part of these vehicles.

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David Sickels: So earlier this year, and this is why I was really interested to talk with you today, Advanced Auto Parts debuted the 12-volt diehard EV battery. Part of the Clarios xEV line, and that’s designed specifically for EVs and hybrids. So what’s wrong with using any old 12-volt battery that you might find on the shelf now as opposed to this one specifically designed for EVs?

Allison Lentz Bubar: Yeah, so that’s a great question. And while you don’t technically need to use an EV specific battery, the benefit of using one is that it has longer life. And so Diehard EV battery is an AGM, so that’s absorbent glass mat battery, it’s got that stamp grid technology, lasts up to four times longer than a traditional flooded battery would be. And that’s a common technology. So you get an AGM from us, you get AGM from other retailers. The important difference with this battery versus other batteries is the amount of cycling that you can get versus a standard AGM battery. So we talked about the critical safety functions like brakes and steering and lighting being maintained by that 12-volt battery.

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Allison Lentz Bubar: And so that EV battery will have that longer life to be able to do that. The other thing is this battery is part of that AGM family, and so it’s UL validated, which means it contains 94% recycled material. And so there’s a commitment there that this battery is also part of a sustainable manufacturing process, which is one of the reasons that we’re really proud and excited for this battery. So it’s sustainable and longer life. Is the key difference that you would have between this and a typical either AGM and or flooded battery.

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Nadine Battah: That’s really interesting, Allison, how did you identify the need for a 12 volt battery is specifically intended for EVs?

Allison Lentz Bubar: So, I will say the great news about our industry, which is we’re the automotive aftermarket industry, is that we have the benefit to see what is coming. So we know the vehicles that were sold this year that were sold last year. And so we see this market growing. So last year the total battery electric vehicles grew 40% from the previous year. The average age of electric vehicles is right now between three and four years, which is a sweet spot for the 12-volt battery to be replaced. It’s got about the same shelf life as our typical batteries for ICE vehicles. And so having a battery that is first to market in the EV market is something that we want to make sure to do for our customers and for this growing market. And so we want to help them with all their vehicle needs. So battery is a key component of that, but then we also stack and sell thousands of other parts that can support those vehicles as well.

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David Sickels: And is this Diehard EV battery, is this suitable for both your consumer vehicle all the way up to a heavy-duty truck?

Allison Lentz Bubar: So it’s designed for this standard kind of consumer hybrids, EVs, your Toyotas, Nissans, and so it covers about 4 million vehicles in operation today. From a heavy-duty standpoint, we work with our partner, Clarios, and we monitor the market and we see what’s coming. And so that’s not to say we wouldn’t over time, but today it is for a standard like duty vehicle.

David Sickels: Got it.

Nadine Battah: For sure. Do you still consider replacing the 12-volt battery and an EV DIY process for most people, or due to the extreme voltages running through the rest of the vehicle, do you still recommend letting the professionals handle this sort of maintenance?

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Allison Lentz Bubar: So replacing a 12-volt battery, it can be a DIY activity. However, the 12-volt battery, depending on where it’s located in the vehicle could be difficult to access. And so you may want to have a professional do it. If you were to come into one of our advanced stores, for example, we charge, test and install batteries for free, but we would only be able to install that 40% of the vehicles. The other 60% that would come in we would recommend going to professionals. So we have TechNet shops and partners that we work really closely with. It’s got independent repair organization. And so we would refer those out just because typically it’s the time it takes to do the install over 45 minutes. We would recommend a professional or the location is really difficult to access. So it depends on the application, but for those that you can, we absolutely encourage and support and want to provide the opportunity for them to do it.

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David Sickels: Got it. Well Allison, thank you so much for joining us. I know I learned a lot. This has been really, really helpful. So thank you so much. Wow. Okay, Nadine, that was a lot to digest there.

Nadine Battah: That was. That really interesting though David. Thank you for having me to be a part of this discussion. It was nice to hear what Allison had to say and I like that she broke it down for us.

David Sickels: Especially when she was talking about the training and the necessary, what people need to know when they’re going to get one of these batteries, or the fact that maybe it’s not a good idea to try to install this on your own as a DIY project like you could with an ICE vehicle.

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Nadine Battah: I’m glad that she touched on the safety precautions that some should take and whether or not this would be like a DIY type of activity or something that the professionals should stick with. So I definitely appreciated her input for sure.

David Sickels: Yeah, yeah, most definitely. Well again, thank you for joining us. Always a pleasure.

Nadine Battah: Thank you again, David. Always a pleasure.

David Sickels: And we will see you next time.

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