Johnson Controls Inc. said it plans to invest $245 million through 2020 to double North American production of absorbent glass mat (AGM) batteries for vehicles with stop-start systems.
Stop-start systems improve fuel economy as much 5 percent by stopping the engine when the vehicle halts at a traffic signal. Although it's more expensive than a conventional lead acid battery, an AGM battery can better withstand the strain of frequent engine restarts.
The company, in a June 13 statement, did not indicate whether it will expand an existing facility or build a new one in North America. To serve this market, the company currently produces AGM batteries at a factory in Toledo, Ohio.
JCI's battery operations have some in-house plastics production to make components, although it wasn't clear if it would use outside suppliers. The AGM battery uses a polypropylene composite for its cases, the company said.
In August 2015, Johnson Controls announced plans to expand the Toledo facility, bringing its total investment there to $130 million since production began in 2012.
By 2020, as many as half the vehicles produced in North America will be equipped with stop-start systems, according to Johnson Controls.
The company also produces AGM batteries in Europe, where stop-start systems are popular. The company produces AGM batteries in two German plants -- Hannover and Zwickau -- to handle demand in Europe, where 85 percent of all vehicles produced in 2020 are expected to have stop-start systems.
Johnson Controls also is ramping up production in China, where it plans to build a $200 million AGM battery plant in Binzhou. Construction will begin next year.
The company said today that it expects to spend $780 million from 2015 to 2020 to expand global production of AGM batteries.