The Existential Threat To Lead-Acid Batteries

For example, the company cites a recent case study in which a customer was able to reduce the number of lift trucks they had on hand from 17 to 12 by switching from lead-acid batteries to lithium-ion batteries — primarily because of opportunity charging.

Thus, even though the price for capacity is higher for lithium-ion batteries, the fact that you need less capacity lowers the lithium-ion premium (which, according to BloombergNEF, likely won’t be a premium for much longer).

Karimov cites additional savings from a case study from a fruit-growing, packaging and shipping operation with 2 shifts and 30 trucks:

  • Downtime from battery changes — $56,000 per year
  • Watering the lead acid batteries — $8,000 per year
  • The need for a new battery room — $440,000
  • Higher preventative maintenance costs and insurance rates related to health risks with lead acid

In addition, lithium-ion batteries have a longer life cycle with 3,000 cycles compared to less than 1,500 with lead acid. Historically, consumers considered such savings in deciding whether to switch to lithium-ion batteries. But with declining lithium-ion prices, that decision may soon be much easier.


The world is in the midst of a battery revolution, but declining costs and a rising installed base signal that lithium-ion batteries are set to displace lead-acid batteries. As long as lithium-ion batteries are more expensive than lead-acid batteries, the economics will depend on just how much the batteries are used (which impacts downtime, maintenance, etc.).

But as the price of lithium-ion continues to fall, the economic case will be compelling just on the price of the batteries. When that happens, the age of lead-acid batteries will come to an end.

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