New distributor named for SkelStart engine start module

C8 Energy becomes North American master distributor

battery (Photo: C8 Energy)

C8 Energy, an Ontario, Canada-based company dedicated to providing more efficient energy options for commercial vehicles and heavy machinery, has announced that it has been named North American master distributor for the patented SkelStart engine start module. Developed by Skeleton Technologies, reportedly the world’s largest supercapacitor manufacturer, the SkelStart has been embraced in Europe. Through Skeleton’s agreement with C8 Energy, it is now available to commercial fleets throughout the United States and Canada.

Cold starts a problem from time immemorial

Lead-acid battery failures are so endemic, that many fleets simply consider battery replacement a cost of doing business. Starter battery problems in particular, consistently rank among the topmost common roadside repairs. Where a battery fails dictates how seriously and costly the problem will be for a fleet, and if a service or tow truck has to be deployed, additional fees and downtime costs can soar. Cold-weather months exacerbate the problem exponentially, and battery failures inevitably rise each winter.

“Until now, U.S. fleets have been at the mercy of their maintenance practices and the weather when it comes to starter battery reliability,” said Jean Labrie, CEO of C8 Energy. “Marketing ploys, like the term ‘maintenance-free’ batteries,’ confuse the issue further, because even premium batteries won’t survive in really cold weather or without basic maintenance.”

battery SkelStart engine start module is a supercapacitor designed to take on the duties of engine starting, thus relieving a vehicle’s remaining battery bank from that burden. (Photo: C8 Energy)

A supercharged solution

The SkelStart module is a supercapacitor designed exclusively to take on the duties of engine starting, thus relieving a vehicle’s remaining battery bank from that burden. SkelStart modules replace starter batteries and are engineered to have a similar dimensional envelope as a standard commercial vehicle battery.

The company said one module will easily crank a 27 L engine, and four SkelStarts can crank a 85 L engine. The supercapacitor technology reliably delivers 2000 cold-cranking amps day in, day-out, for up to 1 million cycles. It also delivers that same starting power whether the ambient temperature is as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 degrees Celsius) or as high as 149 degrees Fahrenheit (65 degrees Celsius), said C8 Energy.

“A supercapacitor is not hindered by temperature, nor is its performance impacted by extremes of cold or heat,” said Labrie. “One SkelStart can put out three times the amperage of an average lead-acid battery, and the high amperage means less system-wide exposure to the low voltage associated with depleted lead-acid batteries.”

Labrie explained that the low voltage delivered by a struggling lead-acid battery will cause higher resistance on the battery cables, which can result in starter burnouts.

According to C8 Energy, replacing starter batteries with supercapacitors makes sense for a fleet for four reasons: They cut down on roadside service calls; they cut down on cold start problems; they improve driver safety and comfort; and with a lifespan of up to 1 million cycles, they can theoretically outlast the vehicles they serve.

“Though this is anecdotal evidence of their effectiveness, we installed SkelStart engine start modules as part of pilot field test programs in two very large fleets,” said Labrie. “When the sub-zero winter weather recently gripped the country, those fleets both reported that only the vehicles with the SkelStarts were able to start unassisted.”

The SkelStart is able to crank big 85 Lengines as well with no problem, said the company, and it believes that it’s the cranking capability and consistency that some heavy equipment and off-highway fleets will find attractive about the product.

“We recently worked with one of Canada’s largest open-pit gold mines and replaced two of the four Group 8D batteries in one of its massive dump trucks with the SkelStart in order to handle the dump truck’s starting capacity,” said Labrie. “We left two of the 8Ds to enable the ECU, ignition switch, lighting and other auxiliary vehicle functions. The SkelStarts have performed flawlessly during the frigid Canadian winter.”

Distribution and support in position

C8 Energy has already begun building out broad distribution and product support networks in the United States and Canada. Among a string of other signed distribution contracts, C8 Energy has an agreement with UAP Heavy Vehicle parts division, the largest heavy vehicle parts distributor in Canada. 

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