Johnson Controls expands global production of start-stop batteries to meet demand
Johnson Controls released a new version of its start-stop battery — a 12V lithium ion version — at a German trade show in September while announcing that it was: expanding production of its Absorbent Glass Mat batteries in Germany and the US; creating a new factory in China and forming a joint distribution network in the country; as well as expanding manufacturing levels at its Changxing facility.
In the new battery line-up which Johnson calls an “advanced start-stop system” has two batteries.
The first is a 12-volt AGM or Enhanced Flooded Battery which will start the engine and supply power to accessories such as lights, navigation systems and radios.
The second, a 12-volt lithium-ion battery, which uses a proprietary lithium titanate chemistry, will primarily accept and store regenerative braking energy during vehicle deceleration, enabling greater power and load management capabilities.
The advanced start-stop battery will be produced starting as early as 2018.
The further push into stop-start batteries has an urgency to it across Europe. According to EU regulations, in 2021 the maximum CO2 emission level for new vehicles will be 95 grams per kilometre which means a fuel consumption of 4.1 litres per 100 kilometres.
The tightening up of CO2 emissions has its regulatory counterparts elsewhere in the world.
“The advanced start-stop battery technology makes significant CO2 reductions possible,” says Lisa Bahash, group vice president and general manager Original Equipment, Johnson Controls Power Solutions.
This translates into fuel savings of around 5% to 8%.
“We are expecting strong growth for start-stop technology, and with good reason. It requires minimal changes to the vehicle and costs significantly less than battery systems in hybrid or electric vehicles,” says Bahash. “Start-stop is the best solution to help automakers meet upcoming environmental regulations.”
The market for new vehicle and aftermarket start-stop batteries could rise to 56 million worldwide by 2020, compared to 22 million today, according to Johnson estimates. In this time frame, 85% of all new vehicles in Europe and 40% in the US and China are expected to be powered with start-stop batteries.
With $555 million in investment planned between 2011 and 2020, the company is implementing plans to expand AGM production capacity in Germany, the US and China.
In Europe, Johnson Controls has invested more than $112 million in its facility in Hanover, Germany to increase production of fuel-efficient AGM batteries by 65% since 2011.
Two years ago, the company also expanded its Zwickau plant in Germany with an investment of more than $112 million, making it the world’s largest production site for AGM batteries.
In August, the firm announced additional capacity at its US plant in Toledo, Ohio, bringing the overall investment to $130 million since the start of AGM production at this site in 2012.
Also in August Johnson Controls signed an investment agreement for a $200 million plant in the Tiexi district of Shenyang, the capital city of Liaoning Province.
It will have the capacity to produce 6 million automotive batteries — both SLI and AGM — a year with the industry’s leading sustainability and environmental standards.
“We have a long-term commitment to China, and the new plant will play a strategic role in our plans to meet the increasing expectations of quality products and services from customers and consumers in the country, which is one of our most important markets in the world,” Joe Walicki, president of Johnson Controls Power Solutions said at the time.
Construction of the new plant should begin early next year with production starting in 2018.
Johnson Controls entered the Chinese automotive battery supply market in 2005 and has set up two battery manufacturing plants in Chongqing in western China and in its Changxing facility in Zhejiang Province in eastern China. It also has a research and development centre for automotive batteries in Shanghai.
Production at its Changxing facility is to be increased from 1.5 million units to 3.4 million a year. The expansion project started this October and should be complete in 2017,
In September Johnson Controls signed a memorandum of understanding with Beijing Hainachuan Automotive Parts, an auto parts subsidiary of Beijing Automotive Industry Group, to set up automotive battery sales and manufacturing joint ventures in the world’s largest vehicle market.
Under the MOU Johnson Controls and BHAP will partner to offer a range of batteries to automakers and service networks under BAIC Group, one of China’s largest automobile manufacturers.
“This MOU positions Johnson Controls and BAIC to take advantage of what will be the world’s largest automotive battery market by 2020,” said Walicki.
“By understanding market dynamics, consumer demands and technology needs, Johnson Controls’ complete portfolio of batteries can best meet customers’ short and long-term energy storage needs.”
Founded in 1958, BAIC Group covers a wide range of businesses from vehicle manufacturing, research and development, auto parts manufacturing, automobile service and trade, to general aviation investment and financing.
It has automotive manufacturing joint ventures with Hyundai, Mercedes Benz, and a number of self-owned brands such as BAIC Motor, Senova, Changhe Auto and Foton.
Approximately 22 million new vehicles are produced in China every year, making it the world’s largest automotive market.
About 5% of new vehicles in China have start-stop systems. Johnson predicts this number to rise to about 40% by 2020 as automakers have been challenged to meet aggressive fuel economy targets set by the government.