The lead-acid car battery was invented in 1859 by French physicist Gaston Planté, and if you pop open the hood of your car right now, you’ll probably see something very similar to his first prototype. For all the advancements cars have made over the years, its batteries have remained eerily unchanged.
This Tuesday, Ford and technology mogul Samsung announced a dual-battery system for gas-powered vehicles that could be the beginning of the end for the lead-acid battery.
Ford and Samsung have combined a lithium-ion battery with a 12-volt lead-acid unit, creating a new, lighter, and more flexible power source. The new concept has massive potential for fuel savings, as the lithium-ion component can be recharged through regenerative braking.
Regenerative braking, which has only been available on hybrid and electric vehicles thus far, recovers kinetic energy from the brakes and uses it to charge a vehicle’s batteries. Since this energy is normally converted into waste heat and friction, implementing this process on non-hybrid vehicles seems like a no-brainer.
Ford isn’t stopping with new battery technology, though. Other fuel-saving technologies like Auto Start-Stop, which shuts off a car’s engine at stoplights, could ensure that Ford’s gas-powered vehicles of the future may be just as fuel-efficient as the hybrids of today.