Johnson Controls and Saft Launch HEV Joint Venture

January 11, 2006 by Jeff Shepard

Johnson Controls and Saft have announced a joint venture, to supply advanced-technology batteries for current- and future-generation hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs) and electric vehicles (EVs). The official start-up of the new joint venture was announced at the 2006 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.

The new joint venture is, on an exclusive basis, involved worldwide in the development, production and sale of nickel-metal-hydride and lithium-ion batteries for HEVs and EVs. Johnson Controls and Saft are combining their development teams within existing locations, and plan to develop state-of-the-art manufacturing sites based on market demand. The companies are also combining their sales and marketing resources in order to address this fast-growing market.

"This new organization represents a significant step forward for our companies and the automotive industry overall," said Gregg Sherrill, group vice president and general manager of Johnson Controls. "Together, we will accelerate our participation in the HEV market, and drive to develop, commercialize and supply innovative power-storage technologies for environmentally friendly vehicles. Saft's proven expertise in high-performance, advanced battery technologies complements our great strengths at Johnson Controls, which include high-volume production capabilities and outstanding knowledge of the global car industry," Sherrill said.

Current-generation HEVs rely on nickel-metal-hydride batteries. Within the next several years, lithium-ion batteries are likely to become the preferred choice for HEVs, because they offer key advantages in size, weight and power-storage capacity. The new Johnson Controls-Saft joint venture will give global automakers new sourcing options and production capabilities for a full range of EV and HEV battery solutions.

"The benefits of the combined resources of our two companies give us confidence that we will achieve significant market breakthroughs in the next 12 months" comments John Searle, Saft CEO.

At the 2006 NAIAS event, Johnson Controls is showcasing its latest products and innovations. The company's exhibit, in room D2-15 of Detroit's Cobo Center, includes a number of displays and prototypes' highlighting the joint venture's advanced battery technologies. Prominently featured is a prototype sport-utility vehicle (SUV) that has been retrofitted with an advanced concept lithium-ion based battery. The concept SUV gives visitors an example of the packaging and performance advantages of lithium-ion batteries vs. current generation nickel-metal-hydride batteries.