Glendale-based Johnson Controls Inc. announced it is expanding the production of advanced batteries for Start-Stop vehicles at its Toledo, Ohio, plant. The company said the expansion is due to growing demand for better fuel economy and more sustainable technologies.
At the Toledo plant, Johnson Controls is adding Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) capacity, installing necessary equipment, optimizing the plant layout, and providing employment opportunities to reflect the increased AGM capacity, according to František Šašek, director of communications Americas.
“With this expansion fully finished in early 2017, we will have invested about $130 million in Toledo since introducing AGM technology back in 2012,” Šašek said.
"Consumers want to drive vehicles further using less gas," said Petar Oklobdzija, vice president and general manager of original equipment, Americas, Johnson Controls. "They want to buy vehicles with technology that is available today and is affordable. The solution is Start-Stop technology."
The company said tightening government fuel economy and carbon emission reduction targets put additional challenges on car makers from all around the world to replace conventional technologies with more efficient, advanced technologies.
"Most auto makers have already announced plans to have a majority of new vehicles equipped with Start-Stop or similar technology within the next three to five years," Oklobdzija said. "Our battery supply contracts for the Ford F-150 and Chevy Malibu underscore this trend, which predicts about 9 million Start-Stop vehicles will be on the road in the U.S. by 2020."
According to Johnson Controls, Start-Stop enables up to 5 percent fuel economy savings over a conventional vehicle. The 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 rather than the gas-powered engine, thus saving fuel.
"AGM batteries are the best solution for Start-Stop vehicles because they enable the frequent charge-discharge cycles the vehicle requires. When the Toledo plant expansion finishes in 2016, our capacity will add to Johnson Controls global production capabilities in Europe and China," Oklobdzija said.
Johnson Controls said the global Start-Stop market for new vehicles could reach 53 million annually by 2020.