Yesterday, we looked at a case involving a Phoenix HD 4-wheel mobility scooter. Client complained that he always encounters stoppages after about 30 - 40 mins of driving.
We towed the scooter back for checking, and opened the battery pack to check. It was discovered that the client had engaged an outside vendor to change his batteries.
The brand of the battery sounded Japanese (F***da), there were Japanese characters printed on it, but no where was it stated the country of manufacture. So was it really "Made in Japan"? Maybe, but if it was genuinely made in Japan, I'm sure the Japanese manufacturer would have proudly marked their batteries with a "Made in Japan" label.
Based on the supply sticker pasted on the batteries, these were installed on his mobility scooter in November 2018, barely one month ago.
There was no visible problem with the batteries, such as corrosion, water marks or bloating. Voltage readings were very healthy too, and 13.01V and 13.04V, respectively.
However, when we plugged it to our battery tester for a capacity test, the problem surfaced.
The batteries were only able to run on our tester for 13 mins. Compared with our LONG batteries, which can run for 90 mins, these batteries had only about 14% of their rated capacity. So instead of being able to travel 20 km, these batteries only allow less than 3 km of travel.
To be fair, this problem was not easy to detect. The battery voltages were healthy, there were no visible damages to the batteries. Almost all other battery vendors in our industry arm themselves only with a basic multi-meter, which costs less than $20. So the vendor may not have intentionally supplied bad batteries to the client. They themselves may not have known.
Falcon Mobility is the only company that has bothered to invest in a proper battery capacity tester, which costs several thousand dollars. This is because we know that only 90% of battery problems can be detected by a multi-meter, the other 10% can only be detected with a battery tester. To us, 90% quality is not good enough. We need 99%.
Now, on top of the money he had spent on the defective so-called "Japanese" batteries, the client had to pay several hundred more for towing the scooter back to us, a diagnosis fee, and for changing to our LONG batteries. The amount of money involved is enough to buy another 2nd hand mobility scooter. Just to save, maybe $20 - $30 or so? Was it worth it?
And just because a brand has a Japanese name, is it necessarily made in Japan? There are many non-Japanese companies who use Japanese sounding names to brand their products and mislead their customers. A very good example is the A**ra brand of household appliances (TV, fans, rice cooker etc). The name sounds very Japanese, but the company is a Singapore company listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange, and the products are made mainly in China.
This is a "penny-wise, pound-foolish" cautionary tale for customers who want to change their batteries outside just because they are cheaper. You may end up burning much more money than you save.