Ask the Editors: Why Don’t ATVs Use Big Cell Phone Batteries?

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The future is now.

Dear ATVC: Why don’t ATVs use lithium ion batteries like cellphones? DavMcNutt

We’re in the process of transition even as we speak. Though not exactly like bigger version of the lithium ion units that power your cell phones and laptops (lithium cobalt), we’re seeing more and more lithium (lithium-iron phosphate) designs replace heavy and archaic lead acid batteries by the week.

The benefits are across the board: Longer life cycle, quicker recharges, five-times the amount of discharge cycles, higher peak power, no toxic chemicals and gases. Oh and they weight about 4-pounds less too.

So why hasn’t the whole world made the switch? There are two reasons at present. First cost. Economics are such where the scale of production determines cost. We’re not quite to the point where Li-ion manufacturing is large enough to make the batteries more affordable than a comparable lead acid unit. But those costs are steadily coming down. Before long we suspect them to become evenly priced then eventually, as the lead acids phase out, the opposite will occur.

Secondly – adaptation. It takes time for new technology to work its way through the established way of things. These new batteries require new types of chargers, which can also come with hefty price tags. Most riders and mechanics are perfectly comfortable using their car chargers, jumper cables and so on. We’re collectively more comfortable slapping a battery into our machines made by Diehard than we are one from Samsung. But the wheels are already in motion so it’s only a matter of time.

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