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Is there a lightweight, long-lasting car battery in your future?

Consumer Reports News: December 06, 2012 09:08 AM

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If the idea of a car battery that could last 10 years, has more cranking power than conventional batteries, can stand more charge and discharge cycles, and offers faster recharge time appeals to you, you're in luck. It's coming soon. And as a bonus, it weighs just 6.6 pounds.

As carmakers look for ways to shave every pound they can to increase fuel mileage in their vehicles, one obvious target is the battery. Conventional car batteries weigh about 45 pounds on average, so the weight savings of this new lithium-ion design are significant.

Developed by Braille Battery of Sarasota, FL, the Green-Lite GU1R uses technology similar to that used in gasoline/hybrid car batteries. Braille batteries are already used by Formula 1 and NASCAR racing teams, where weight reduction is critical, along with motorsports teams fielded by Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche.

Braille claims that in addition to lighter weight and longer life than conventional batteries, the GU1R holds its voltage longer when under a load, such as cranking the engine. That, they say, reduces strain on the alternator and other electrical components, which can help extend their life, as well.

If all that sounds appealing, the GU1R is due to arrive in early 2013, and will be available in performance parts stores and speed shops, along with online retailers.

The negatives:
The U1R part of its name indicates the new battery's group size in battery speak, meaning that for now the technology will only be available for cars that require that size. Essentially, that means it is suited just to Mazda MX-5 owners. The company says more sizes are coming soon.

That, and the retail cost is a $549. But as the need for more fuel-efficient vehicles grows, it's reasonable to expect we'll see more such lightweight batteries in the future.

See our latest battery Ratings and buying advice.

Jim Travers

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