JCI wins further battery supply contracts, extends Aqua Metals deadline

Johnson Controls has been awarded contracts to supply its AGM and flooded batteries to Navistar and MAN Truck and Bus — two heavy-duty commercial truck and bus industry firms — the company announced on May 9.

The contract means JCI will supply its Fleetrite brand to Navistar’s three North American OEM plants and 700 truck and bus dealerships, and to MAN Truck and Bus’s European OEM plants and aftermarket centres — which will necessitate spending on new AGM manufacturing capacity in Hanover, Germany.

The announcement comes two months after the world’s largest battery maker said it was considering selling its battery business, with CEO George Oliver quoted as saying the firm was ‘exploring strategic alternatives for its Power Solutions business’.

However, Petar Oklobdzija, group vice president and general manager of original equipment at Johnson Controls Power Solutions, said the firm would “continue to invest in our operations to support this growing industry and will work closely with our partners to deliver sustainable, innovative solutions”.

JCI has also extended a deadline with lead battery recycling company Aqua Metals to develop a joint programme to install new greenfield builds and convert existing JCI lead smelters to use AquaRefining technology.

An original agreement said the two firms would finish discussions by April 30 with a view to beginning the programme a month later, but the deadline for discussions has been extended by one year.

The recent flurry of management changes at Aqua Metals could be partly to blame for the delay, although interim chief executive and co-founder Selwyn Mould sounded confident that discussions would be completed before the new deadline.

“We look forward to concluding discussions and beginning the installation of AquaRefining technology before these new dates,” he said. “We appreciate Johnson Control’s flexibility in this matter. They continue to be an important strategic partner for Aqua Metals, lending their technical expertise in support of our mutual goals.”