Ohm - A Smarter Car Battery

I found this Indiego offer for a Smarter Car Battery. It uses some batteries to charge capacitors that discharge to provide cranking power. It also includes electronice to monitor and control everything.



I think the biggest drawback would be the overall capacity for this type of battery. There are many brands (BMW, Porsche, …) that have minimum requirements for the capacity (due to all the complex body modules). But also consumers would want their music system to play a bit longer while in a car park, drive-in movie,…

however, as a pure starter battery or for requirements in racing builds… amazing. the weight savings alone are great.

7 year average lifetime is not much better than a lead-acid battery.
The Original battery of my Clio was replaced after 8 years, the Renault Express that i drove before that was not replaced after 11 years (i sold that car after 11 years with the Original battery).
My Suzuki Bandit 1200S had the Original battery when i sold it after 8 years and 137.000km (that was a gel battery).

The only advantage of the “smarter car battery” is that it is much lighter than a lead-acid battery.
With all the electronics inside it will not be more reliable, because there is much more that can go wrong.

Yes, we all know that can happen with batteries, but not only lead acid. I’ve got some NimH rechargeables around here somewhere that are over 15 years old and still work pretty well. I’ve also got some Lithium 18650’s from a “dead” laptop pack that was made in the early 90’s and those cells still work okay as well. The cells in this “smart” battery may well go past 25 years. But, the “battery” itself may reach end of life a lot sooner because the cells will go out of sync by some small amount. That is what usually happens in laptop batteries. Manufacturers take the safest route of making the battery shut itself down when even one cell is out of sync with the rest rather than risk blowing something up.

The concept and weight savings sound good, but at the current $180-$200 price range, I could buy 3-4 new lead acid batteries for my car. They may need to get that down to slightly above premium battery pricing if they want greater market adoption.


A really good idea for motorcycles where weight is much more important.

There are some applications where this might help, like lightweight vehicles that are used for frequent short trips, karts, motorcycles, etc. It might also work in a hybrid setup with a deep cycle battery.

As bmwsancho mentioned though, many cars, like my BMW have IBS that’s tied to the car’s computer network. It’ll constantly throw errors unless you hack it, and the stock battery is a fairly large AGM anyway.

Lead-acid wet cell batteries will not be easily replaced for this usage; they are a perfect balance of reliability, lifespan, capacity, resilience, and cost. The $70 battery in my van is 5+ years old and still doing great. It should last another 2-3 years, maybe more. Just a mid-grade plain unit with removable cell caps, I add water to it about once a year, keep the terminals clean, and all is well.

I’m all for newer battery technology but unless it’s a lot better in some way it will only be seen in specialized applications or where cost isn’t as much of a consideration as performance. You’ve got to be commercially viable to survive in today’s business world and I don’t think this one will be. Nice to see the effort anyway!


I grew up (1968 - 1976) across a set of railroad tracks and a secondary road (plus their Big Front Yard) from a General Electric Capacitor Manufacturing Plant.

After they closed it, I don’t know why it took most of a decade to clean up the property; but I can tell you, now that the statute of limitations is up, that part of my “Y2K Survival Plan” involved the giant tank of Nitric Acid they kept outside their back door…

If you’ve seen what comes out of a blown capacitor, you might not want this in your car…

I have actually blown up (not on purpose!!) a lead-acid battery, at about solar-plexus-level, with nothing but an International Scout fender for “protection”. I took the brunt of the “blast” in the chest and face, as the entire top of the battery flew all the way across Main St. I’m pretty sure I’d rather do that again on purpose than have one of these go off in a similar manner!!

I’ve seen the results of that a few times Dimbo- even heard one go off in a Jeep nearby when they tried to start it. Luckily all were under closed car hoods. Given the right (wrong?) circumstances, any battery can explode. Just a risk of modern life I guess.

Did you grow up in Pickens? The site sounds quite similar to your description and they’re still cleaning up the PCB’s from 12 Mile Creek. I live about 15 miles from there, used to fish in the lake it fed into till we were warned to not eat those fish. Lost my favorite fishing spot then :_(