Porsche recently announced it would offer a thirteen-pound lithium-ion starter battery for select models. The battery saves 22 pounds over a conventional lead-acid unit. Here's what you get for your money.
The battery became available in the United States in February; a Rennlist forum member recently took delivery of his and was kind enough to share these pictures with the gang at Axis of Oversteer. As the AoO guys remind us, the battery is produced by the German-American firm Lithium Technology Corporation (LTC)-GAIA. The company also produces batteries for motorsport use, including the lithium-ion units found in the Gumpert Apollo Hybrid that competed in the 2008 24 Hours of the Nürburgring.
As you can see, the battery is tiny. (Check out the pen placed next to the box for comparison.) It's a direct replacement for — and shares a footprint with — Porsche's lead-acid offerings but is 2.8 inches shorter. Like most lithium-ion batteries, Porsche's unit loses efficiency below 32 degrees Farhenheit and is thus not recommended for year-round use in wintry climates. According to Porsche, the battery is:
...made up of wound film of carbon and iron phosphate with a ceramic film moisturised by the electrolyte serving as a separating layer in between. Compared with other types of lithium-ion batteries using a combination of manganese oxide, cobalt oxide or nickel, this lithium-
iron-phosphate battery, as it is called, offers advantages when used as a starter battery. [It contains] four cells and integrated control electronics.
This battery management system protects the battery from major discharge and guarantees a consistent charge level within the individual cells. Once battery voltage drops below a certain threshold, a warning signal reminds the driver to re-charge the battery either simply by driving the car through the power of the engine running or by means of a conventional battery charger.
The battery can be purchased as a standalone part, but it's offered as a factory option only on the 911 GT3, 911 GT3 RS, and Boxster Spyder. If you want one to play around with but don't like the dealer experience, try someplace like here. ($2400?!?)
Bonus points if you buy one and walk around with it connected to your cell phone like a big 'ol hairy-chested Tequipment fanboy. Or maybe not. Maybe that's just what we want to do. Maybe we're a little weird.