It’s my personal, long-standing mission to prove to people that a lot of “generic” items you find in the store are actually just as good as the name brand version – if not the exact same product in some cases.
Many of the generic tires, motor oil and batteries sold by Big Box retailers or national parts chains are actually produced in the same facilities as name brand products.
The quality, in most cases, is exactly the same.
The durability is the same.
The warranties and return policies are identical (and sometimes better).
But, the prices are lower.
That’s because the generic products don’t have the added costs associated with marketing, advertising and registered trademarks (some do actually have trademarks however).
Let’s learn about some of the most common “off-brand” batteries on the market.
What Are Generic Automotive Batteries?
Most vehicle batteries are sold under brand names, even if it’s just the store’s name. In that sense, few batteries are truly generic. Instead, it’s better to think of it this way: a generic car battery is one you get from someone besides the vehicle’s manufacturer.
Most people purchase replacement batteries from local auto stores. However, this doesn’t mean that replacement batteries are inherently inferior, even if they’re ostensibly generic. Manufacturers matter more than brand names, so as long as you buy from a good company, you’re generally in good shape.
Common Name brand (can find advertisements/marketing):
- AC Delco
Generic (house brands and/or not well known):
- Napa Legend (Napa Autoparts – house brand)
- AAA (Napa Autoparts)
- EverStart (Walmart)
- Econocraft (Autozone)
- Odyssey (Autozone)
- Valucraft (Autozone)
- Value Battery (Advance Autoparts)
- Braille Battery (Advance Autoparts)
- Super Start (Oreilly Auto)
- Dorman OE Solutions (Oreilly Auto)
Who Makes Interstate Batteries & Where Are Interstate Batteries Made?
As of 2021, most Interstate Batteries in the United States come from Exide Technologies, one of the three major manufacturers of automotive batteries. They have several manufacturing plants across the country, as well as several recycling plants to help provide closed-loop recycling.
Who Makes NAPA Batteries?
East Penn is the current manufacturer of NAPA batteries. East Penn mainly operates out of Berks County, Pennsylvania, with a 520-acre site featuring several buildings. Their primary battery facility includes four automotive battery plants, several technical centers, a water purification site, an on-site machine shop, and numerous support facilities.
East Penn is expanding to the Corydon, Iowa area to help accommodate its growth. However, while its batteries are primarily made at its main facility, some accessories and other parts come from an offsite accessory plant that East Penn runs.
Who Makes Duralast Batteries?
Duralast batteries, a private label for Autozone, can come from any of the three primary manufacturers. The variety of manufacturers is a little surprising because Duralast batteries are a generally popular brand throughout the country. Usually, it’s hard to get that sort of reputation if you’re buying from multiple manufacturers.
While it’s difficult to find information on the exact breakdown between the manufacturers, Clarios (previously Johnson Controls and recently rebranded) seems to be the most significant manufacturer. East Penn and Exide also make numerous Duralast batteries.
Try talking to Autozone’s employees if you’re wondering about a specific battery. They can usually provide more information on which manufacturer their store receives shipments from.
Who Makes EverStart Batteries from Walmart?
EverStart itself is a Walmart brand that the company also uses for various auto-related products. EverStart batteries usually come from Clarios, as the sole manufacturer, from its facilities in Missouri and Indiana.
The essential thing to be aware of here is that Walmart may use the same brand name for accessories made by other companies. The batteries come from Clarios, but everything else is fundamentally less certain.
Who Makes Other “Generic” Car Batteries?
Who makes your car battery in the end? In most cases throughout the United States, it’s just three companies: East Penn, Exide, and Clarios.
Car batteries are an unusual industry with little innovation, but there is a steady demand. Most consumers aren’t willing to accept car batteries any worse than those currently on the market, either, so competition remains limited.
What’s The Difference Between The Manufacturers?
The three primary battery manufacturers can seem similar on the surface, but there are some differences between their products that you should understand.
Clarios is the new name for Johnson Controls, a brand that people are currently more likely to remember. Clarios is overseen by Brookfield Business Partners, a private equity management company operating as a subsidiary of Brookfield Asset Management. BAM started in Brazil but currently has its headquarters in Toronto, Canada.
Currently, Clarios is effectively the mid-range manufacturer of automotive batteries. They now claim to have batteries in one out of every three vehicles in the world, which helps give a sense of scale to their processes.
Clarios is a new company, but it owns and operates most of Johnson Controls’ old network. About 25% of their batteries go into new cars, while the remaining 75% are aftermarket products. Most car batteries sold are aftermarket products, so that’s a typical ratio and not a reason to be concerned about where their batteries are going.
Who makes your car battery if you want something good? East Penn manufactures higher-quality batteries, positioning them as the premium manufacturer. Retailers might market East Penn batteries as their top-of-the-line choice, using Exide or Clarios for the other levels.
This company focuses on Valve-Regulated Lead-Acid (VRLA) batteries, including advanced designs like Gel and Absorbed Glass Mat batteries. In practical terms, this means that East Penn’s batteries have better resiliency and lifetimes than batteries made with older methods, but they’re also noticeably more expensive.
East Penn’s house brand for batteries is Deka. If you see a sticker with that name anywhere on a battery in the United States, it probably came from their plant in Pennsylvania. East Penn also sells under some less-generic brand names, notably Duracell (which is otherwise owned by Procter & Gamble).
Who makes your car battery if you’re buying something cheaper? Exide is essentially the budget brand among the main battery manufacturers. Note that this does not mean that Exide batteries are inherently bad. Quite the opposite – it’s still a better manufacturer than some of the small companies not described here.
However, it’s important to understand two companies using the brand name Exide, and you shouldn’t get confused between them if you’re doing more research.
Exide Technologies is a US-based battery manufacturing company founded in 1888 and currently operating out of headquarters in Milton, Georgia. They typically sell under the Exide Batteries name in North America, but as Exide Technologies in other parts of the world.
Car batteries are a significant part of their business, but they also operate major power storage and transmission, focusing on the European market.
Exide Industries operates mainly in India, where an out-of-court settlement between the two companies means that Exide Technologies cannot use the name within India. Exide Technologies is able to use its Prestolite brand name, and you might see that on batteries sold in the United States at some point.
I have to admit, when I started this article I thought Braille was a generic battery. It’s not. Braille actually makes some pretty fancy lithium-ion car batteries that offer some great technology.