MG car Batteries

Battery Company Closures-in the 60,and 70,

Battery Company Closures

Battery Company Closures
© Can Stock Photo / Amaviael

Battery Company Closures

Of course, I have written about this subject many times in the past. So, when I look back into the car battery world of my youth and early twenties, it appears it was boom time. Batteries were part of the mix of a good tyre centre. These were the forerunners of the Kwick-Fit-type operations that had started their lives in the USA.

A guy called “Tommy Farmer”, was to visit the States and return with the idea of opening this type of operation here in the UK. And this he did, starting in his home towns in Scotland and then spreading south to the rest of the United Kingdom.

These were super garages, and they sold anything that was easy to fit and turn a quick profit. Mainly tyres, exhausts, and, of course, car batteries.

So, the idea was to buy in bulk and sell at a discount price. In those days, many of the tyre centres were owned by national tyre companies. Such as Dunlop, Pirelli, Goodyear, and Michelin. I worked for “National Tyres,” one of many owned by Dunlop.

We were a hybrid company between the regular garages and the Kwick-Fit centres.

So eventually I would be the owner of my first business and follow the kwick-fit route of buying bulk and selling cheap. The times were great, and this is where my love of the car battery business really started.

Over the period of the 1970s, our battery business took off. Importantly, I did buy deals with most of the British battery manufacturers. Companies such as Exide, Crompton, and Unipart batteries are made by Exide. One of my favourite companies to deal with would be Oldham Batteries from Lancashire. Oldham was one of the first battery companies to advertise on TV with their catchy logo, “I Told Em Oldham“.

However, things had changed with more and more competition entering the battery market. Car accessory shops were opening up all over the UK towns and cities. These were also able to sell cheap car batteries on a cash-and-carry basis; there was no fitting; the customer did their own.

Also, imported cars were becoming popular, with Citroens and Renaults from France. These imported cars had continental-style batteries fitted. Consequently, these batteries were imported as British manufacturers did not make them. In my opinion, the British companies did not spend enough on research and development.

Little Fiats and VWs started to flood the market, all fitted with continental-style batteries and therefore imported. German cars were imported into the UK, fitted out with batteries made by Varta. All these cars had different part numbers, making them hard to match up against a British-made battery product. Indeed, it was the foreign battery makers that were making the batteries for British cars and importing them into the UK.

Fitting your own labels-Battery Company Closures

Many of these importer companies would also be prepared to fit your own company labels. This made it difficult to recognise who actually made the batteries in the first place. The final nail in the coffin was when cars were imported from the far east. batteries started to flood in from China especially. British companies could not compete with the low labour costs in China.

All our well know battery manufacturers began to either close or move abroad chasing the much cheaper labour. Many of the names have remained the same, but moving onto 2023 you would be hard pressed to find a car battery made in the UK.

Here are my best 6 reasons why British battery makers had to close down in the 60,s and 70,s

  1. Competition from foreign manufacturers: British battery manufacturers faced stiff competition from foreign manufacturers, particularly from countries like Japan and Germany, which were able to produce batteries at a lower cost. Which sadly led to Battery Company Closures.
  2. Lack of investment in research and development: British battery manufacturers did not invest enough in research and development, which made it difficult for them to keep up with the latest technological advancements in the industry.
  3. High labour costs: British battery manufacturers had to contend with high labour costs, which made it difficult for them to compete with foreign manufacturers on price.
  4. Economic downturn: The British economy experienced a downturn in the 1960s and 1970s, which made it difficult for manufacturers to stay in business.
  5. Government regulations: The British government imposed a number of regulations on manufacturers, which made it difficult for them to operate profitably.
  6. Lack of economies of scale: The British battery industry was relatively small, which made it difficult for manufacturers to achieve economies of scale and reduce costs. Especially when having to make foreign style battery shapes and terminals. Leding to Battery Company Closures.

Many of the reasons that led to the closure of British battery manufacturers in the 1960s and 1970s are still relevant today.

However, there are also some differences, such as: Battery Company Closures

  • Government support for the industry: Today, the British government is more supportive of the battery industry, with initiatives such as the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) and the Faraday Battery Challenge aimed at encouraging innovation and investment in the sector.
  • Growing demand for electric vehicles: The increasing demand for electric vehicles (EVs) is driving growth in the battery industry, with many manufacturers looking to capitalize on this trend.
  • Advancement in technology: Battery technology has advanced significantly over the years, and companies are now able to produce batteries with higher energy densities and longer lifetimes.
  • Climate change concerns: Climate change concerns are driving demand for cleaner energy sources, which is leading to more investment in the battery industry.

But competition from foreign companies, especially from Asia, is still a big problem for British, Battery Company Closures. But competition from foreign companies, especially from Asia, is still a big problem for British battery makers. High labour costs and economies of scale still remain challenges.

eric roberts
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