Think your automotive supply-chain management is tough? Does your chairman shoot the product?
Add a new image to the world of automotive high-tech: Robert A. Lutz, chairman and CEO of Exide Corp. and former U.S. Marine aviator, blasting batteries in his back yard.
Exide researchers had claimed their new Orbital lead-acid battery was so robust that it could take a bullet and still work.
Since Exide planned to market the battery to the military, Lutz wanted to make sure the company would not be embarrassed by later tests.
'I shot one at home the other day, just to ensure the military tests would go well. I put one on a tree stump and put two .30-caliber rounds through it,' he said.
The battery, containing lead-acid cells that could form the basic power supply for new 42-volt power systems (see Page 14), took the hit gracefully.
'At first, I thought I'd missed,' Lutz said. 'I put the thing in my old Jeep Wagoneer, and it started the car for the next two weeks.'
Most bullet-ridden batteries would leak their liquid acid electrolyte and stop working.
But the Orbital battery contains individual two-volt cells that use an acid paste as the electrolyte. The cylinder-shaped cells are first formed as flat layers and then are rolled up 'just like a jelly roll,' Lutz said.