Car batteries ‘fuel’ lead demand

Posted on April 7th, 2017 by Rob Marshall


Yesterday, I indulged in a spot of domestic tidying. Among the detritus within my garage were four large scrap car batteries, taken from various vehicles that I had owned over the years. Rather than handing them over to my local recycling depot, I deposited them at my nearest scrap metal yard, which handed me a £45 cheque in exchange. Clearly, “Where there’s muck, there’s brass”.

Lead prices on the increase

According to Reuters, fuel-saving stop-start functions on the latest car models require the batteries to contain up to 28% more lead. For some time, I have queried the real-world environmental benefits of stop-start systems, especially as we have found-out formally that the EU emissions and fuel consumption tests are unrealistic.

I also find it amusing that such supposed ‘high-tech’ features rely strongly on mining basic elements from the ground. Even so, if car batteries really are responsible for inflating global lead prices, consider that only 40% of new cars are fitted with the stop-start devices. The figure will rise, as more models adopt the technology.

From a UK perspective, the weakening pound has also helped raise scrap metal prices. Even though they are not at the levels that peaked several years ago, when anything that was not nailed-down tended to find its away on a slow boat to China, be vigilant of scrap metal thieves taking advantage of the situation at your (or your neighbourhood’s) expense.