To meet increasing demand for start-stop technology from auto makers, fueled by government regulations around fuel economy and carbon emission reduction, Johnson Controls is expanding its global production of start-stop batteries. The company plans to add capacity for its absorbent glass mat (AGM) battery production in the U.S., Germany and China. This is part of the company’s planned investments of $555 million between 2011 and 2020.
"Johnson Controls is currently the world's leading provider of batteries for start-stop vehicles and we plan to stay that way," said Lisa Bahash, group vice president and general manager Original Equipment, Johnson Controls Power Solutions, in a statement. "To ensure we will continue to meet rising demand of car manufacturers and aftermarket retailers for this technology, we consider it a business priority to invest in increasing our production worldwide."
“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 Controls. Over this time period, the company expects 85 percent of all new vehicles in Europe and 40 percent in the U.S. and China to be powered with start-stop batteries.
Total global sales for light-duty stop-start vehicles is forecast to grow from 19 million vehicles in 2015 to nearly 59 million by 2024, according to Navigant Research.
How the technology works: “Start-stop technology automatically shuts off the engine when the car is idle and restarts it when the driver's foot leaves the brake pedal. During this time, the vehicle's electrical systems – from entertainment to lights – use energy from an advanced lead-acid battery (AGM) rather than the gas-powered engine, thus saving fuel.”
"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," added Bahash. "Start-stop is the best solution to help automakers meet upcoming environmental regulations."
General Motors recently announced that it’s the first U.S. automotive OEM to adopt ultracapacitors for start-stop Continental Automotive Systems’ voltage stabilization systems (VSS), powered by Maxwell Technologies, as part of its start-stop system. The VSS will be a standard feature on 2016 Cadillac ATS and CTS sedans and ATS coupes, excluding the ATS-V, CTS-V and CT6 models, said GM.
According to GM: “Battery-based start-stop systems augmented with an ultracapacitor-based voltage stabilization system implementation provide burst power needed to restart the engine, thus reducing high currents and repeated cycling that can shorten battery life. The voltage stabilization electronic control results in a smooth start, reduced engine vibration and a superior driving experience.”
"Automotive manufacturers around the world are seeking new ways to improve the performance of their cars while satisfying consumer demands for fuel efficiency," said Jon Buckles, program manager for hybrid electric vehicles at Continental Automotive Systems, in a statement.
As a result of increased demand globally, Johnson Controls already has invested more than $112 million in its Hannover, Germany facility to increase production of AGM batteries by 65 percent since 2011. The company also spent more than $112 million to expand capacity at its Zwickau plant two years ago, which made it the world's largest production site for AGM batteries, according to the company.
Johnson Controls also added capacity at its U.S. plant in Toledo, Ohio, for an overall investment of $130 million since the start of AGM production in 2012 at this plant.
The company also recently announced plans to build a new $200 million automotive battery manufacturing facility in Shenyang, China. Production capacity is planned at 6 million automotive batteries annually, including SLI and AGM batteries.