This is the result of the high price of lead on global markets, which has been steadily rising since mid-2003, driven by demand for base metals from China and other emerging markets. The price of lead is the major factor governing the cost of a car battery and, while increased material costs were initially absorbed by the manufacturers, this is no longer tenable, with lead costing 80% more than it did two years ago.
Varta is the leading supplier to the U.K. aftermarket and has been forced to raise its product prices three times in the past year, followed by other battery manufacturers.
Replacement battery prices have risen by around 15% over the past two months and speculation on lead prices by global investors makes a further rise in the near future increasingly likely.
Says a spokesman for Varta: "At wholesaler level, we believe that there is widespread understanding of the cause of recent rises in product costs, but garages and car parts retailers need to realise that too.
"We have heard suggestions of profiteering by battery manufacturers, but this could not be further from the truth. Global pressure on raw material costs is a force majeur outside of our control and, with predictions of a further 40% increase in the cost of lead by mid-year, everyone involved in the selling process needs to convey this message to their customers."