Business / Companies

US firm Johnson Controls to double production of start-stop batteries

By Zhu Wenqian ( Updated: 2015-10-28 10:21

US-based industrial company Johnson Controls is adding more manufacturing capacity for batteries that power start-stop vehicles in China, as the country's demand for fuel efficient vehicles increases.

The world's largest producer of automotive batteries is increasing production of start-stop batteries in its factory in Changxing, Zhejiang Province, eastern China. The company plans to raise its capacity from 1.5 million to 3.4 million a year.

Currently, about 5 percent of new vehicles in China have start-stop systems. The company expects this number to rise to about 40 percent by 2020, as automakers have been challenged to meet aggressive fuel economy targets set by the government.

"Start-stop system is emerging as an ideal solution to help automakers meet the increasingly strict environmental regulations," said Ray Shemanski, a Johnson Controls vice-president overseeing aftermarket and power products.

The start-stop systems, with the engine automatically shuts off when the car is idle and restarts when the driver's foot leaves the brake pedal, helps consumers to save with 3 to 8 percent of fuel and reduction in emissions. The savings varies depending on how the consumers drive, the cities, and the climates.

During the shut-off time, the vehicle's electrical systems – from entertainment to lights – use energy from an advanced lead-acid battery rather than the gas-powered engine, thus saving fuel.

"China in particular is an attractive market for growth. It is growing rapidly and offers us opportunities to continue to grow our business and expand our network. In the short term, the big opportunity is going to be the start-stop vehicle technology," Shemanski said.

In China, passenger vehicles need to achieve a fuel consumption target of 4.9 liters per 100 km in 2020, compared with 6.8 liters per 100 km in 2015, which is a 27 percent improvement. Carbon emissions need to be reduced from 160g CO2/km in 2015 to 116g CO2/km in 2020, also a 27 percent decline, according to the company.

In August, the multi-industrial company also unveiled plans to build a $200 million plant in Shenyang, China, to produce batteries for start-stop vehicles. The plant is expected to launch in late 2018, and produce 6 million batteries annually, with the majority being the start-stop kind.

"The products from Shenyang factory will mainly serve the Chinese market. Some big automakers are located in northern China, such as BMW in Shengyang, Audi in Changchun, and Mercedes and Daimler in Beijing, so it makes sense for us to launch a factory in Shenyang as the initial adoption of batteries will take place by the automakers," Shemanski said.

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