17 April 2009

Battery Manufacturing Plant to Open In Holland

Story from BizJournals.com

Johnson Controls Inc. announced plans Tuesday to build its first U.S. manufacturing facility for lithium-ion hybrid batteries.

Subject to final state and local incentives, the company, through a joint venture with France-based Saft SA, will use an existing Johnson Controls facility in Holland, Mich.

“Battery technology is strategically important to the future of the U.S. automotive industry and the economy at large,” said Alex Molinaroli, president of the power solutions business for Glendale-based Johnson Controls.

The plant will have about 500 employees.

Johnson Controls-Saft is a global provider of hybrid battery systems. The company opened the world’s first lithium-ion manufacturing facility for hybrid electric vehicles in 2008 in Nersac, France, where it is currently in production for the Mercedes S-Class hybrid, which will be available to consumers later this year.

Johnson Controls-Saft also will supply the lithium-ion hybrid battery system for the BMW 7 Series ActiveHybrid available in 2010, Azure Dynamic’s Balance hybrid electric for commercial vehicles available in 2010, and Ford’s first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle available in 2012.

“This Michigan facility will allow us to serve our strategic global customers and specifically the production contracts we have with Ford and Azure Dynamics. It will also allow us to serve other important customers as the hybrid and electric vehicle industry continues to gain a foothold in the United States,” said Mary Ann Wright, who leads the Johnson Controls-Saft joint venture and is vice president and general manager of Johnson Controls’ hybrid business.

The cost to renovate the Holland, Mich., facility for lithium-ion automotive battery production is approximately $220 million. It will have an initial capacity of 15 million lithium-ion cells.

Johnson Controls-Saft will receive a combination of tax credits and incentives from the state of Michigan totaling $148.5 million as part of the state’s strategy to become the “advanced battery capital of the world.” Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm announced that the Michigan Economic Growth Authority has awarded Johnson Controls-Saft a package in support of lithium-ion battery cell manufacturing.

“Johnson Controls is an important Michigan employer with a successful long-term relationship with the automakers,” Granholm said in a statement.

Johnson Controls also plans to apply for a grant through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

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