JCI signs up with Chinese ecommerce giant to retail Varta batteries

Johnson Controls Power Solutions, JCI’s battery division, has partnered Chinese e-commerce mammoth JD.com to expand its retail delivery model across China, the Ireland-based battery manufacturing giant announced on April 24.

The agreement means JCI’s Varta brand batteries will be offered to certain customers with a 30-minute express delivery time in more than 300 cities in China.

Kari Pfisterer, director of external communications with JCI, says Varta batteries are already a major seller in China, with more than 50% of JD.com’s online battery sales comprising the brand, which is the number one in China as a whole.

“Varta entered the JD.com BDC (business-to-consumer) site when JD.com launched its auto part division in 2014,” said Pfisterer. “Over the three years, Varta sales have grown rapidly and become the top automotive battery brand on the JD platform.

“Ecommerce platforms are playing a principal role in recent economic changes in China, driven by several government initiatives.”

Pfisterer says Varta batteries, which include AGM batteries suitable for start-stop technology, are expected to be installed in more than half of all new cars in China by 2020.

As part of the agreement, JCI-made Energizer batteries will be provided to JD.Com’s aftermarket sales channels, which include garages, workshops and car maintenance shops.

“The cooperation between Johnson Controls and JD.com is a pioneering move in China’s automotive battery market,” said Kenneth Yeng, vice president and general manager of Johnson Controls Power Solutions in China. “Ecommerce plays an increasingly important role in helping Johnson Controls get access to consumers, workshops and retailers in China.”

The announcement comes a month after JCI said it was considering selling its battery division, although in a recent interview with the USA Today’s Journal Sentinel, chairman and CEO George Oliver said investment was still being made in power solutions as well as the company’s buildings division.