May 9, 2019: Johnson Controls Power Solutions — the former battery arm of tech giant Johnson Controls that was bought by Brookfield Business Partners on May 1 for $13 billion — launched itself with the name Clarios and a new logo and website.
Staff arriving for work at the Milwaukee-based company that day had no idea they would find new logos, signs and even ID cards had all been put in place overnight.
Joe Walicki, president of the Power Solutions business and now president of Clarios, said the future for automotive batteries held ‘tremendous opportunity’ for growth.
“All vehicle types — conventional, start-stop, plug-in hybrids, all the way up to battery electric, like Teslas — all of them have a lead acid battery in them. As you move up the continuum to more electrified, the basis is towards these advanced batteries,” he told journalists on a conference call.
“If we stay centred on executing the strategy we put in motion a couple of years ago, which is all about these advanced batteries, we have more capacity than all of our competitors in the world combined.
“We’re well positioned. We have spent significant capital on raising our advanced battery capacity around EFB and AGM. Some of the growth is going to happen in China, where we’re in the process of opening our third plant. Because of their regulatory push around CO2 reduction and consumers who also value comfort and connectivity, they are already close to 50% of new vehicles having these advanced batteries in them. Seventy per cent of the batteries we sell to OEMs are already these advanced batteries.”
Walicki said Clarios would be looking at geographical expansion, firstly into Indonesia, and into other types of batteries for applications like marine and trucks, where AGM technology was rapidly being adopted. There would also be an expansion in lithium technology, he said.
“But we really feel we need to stay centred and not dilute down,” he said. “We will stay being good at what the world wants us to be good at.”
The firm would remain at its Milwaukee base, where the employees were crucial, Walicki said.
“JCI was founded here and our roots are here. We have a lot of very talented lead acid experts, they’re not easy to come by and they love Milwaukee so we’re not going to move them.
“Brookfield admires not only the facilities we have here but also the talent base we employ — the world’s best battery experts. You wouldn’t be able to just transport those people around the world.”
Walicki said the firm’s $10.3 billion debt burden would be paid in time, and the firm had confidence that it would be able to continue investing.
The word ‘Clarios’ means ‘clear’ or ‘clarity’ in a number of languages, said director of external communications Kari Pfisterer.
“This is how we view the road ahead,” she said. “The logo captures the idea of dynamic energy and expresses the ideas that drive us — power and progress. It expresses a natural sense of motion and progression from left to right, reinforcing our brand promise of ‘powering today, into tomorrow’.”