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Battery demand unlikely to pick up despite damage to cars

Keywords: Tags  Hurricane Sandy, secondary lead, lead battery production, auto batteries, Daniel Fitzgerald

NEW YORK — Secondary lead producers and battery manufacturers haven’t seen any increase in demand stemming from the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy last month, they said.

Despite estimates ranging as high as 250,000 cars destroyed by the storm, market participants contacted by AMM said they had yet to see what effect, if any, the storm would have on the industry.

"It’s a little premature. We haven’t seen much pickup there," one battery maker said. "We get regular forecasts from automotive companies, and we’re about where we expected to be for this time of year."

A second battery maker also hadn’t received any upgraded production forecasts from auto companies.

Even if a large number of cars were destroyed in the storm, many brands of sealed batteries are designed to withstand engine flooding, one lead broker said, noting that some companies might try to repair and resell batteries extracted from cars entering the recycling stream.

"I don’t think it will make any large difference," he said. "Even if 250,000 people have to go out and buy a new car, which is unlikely, that’s still only a tiny boost to the market."

However, increased lead demand could be felt in other sectors as a result of Sandy. "A lot of utility and cellphone companies are saying that they need to install better backup systems," the lead broker said. "A lot of lead will go into those kinds of batteries."

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