It has been three months since Clarios launched onto the battery industry with a pledge to invest in its lead-acid and lithium products. In an exclusive interview with BEST Battery Briefing, the company explains why it is focusing on AGM and 12V lead-acid batteries for electric vehicles.
BBB talks to Petar Oklobdzija (pictured), VP and GM of Americas at Clarios, about the company’s goals and future plans…
Q. The company has indicated it anticipates changes in the EV industry. What are these changes, and what is Clarios doing to position itself to take advantage of these changes?
A. We see the shift toward electrified and autonomous vehicles intensifying. Consumers expect more and more features for comfort, safety and convenience; regulators and our own commitment to sustainability require increasing efficiency. Batteries will play an increasingly critical role in everything from greater connectivity to powering electric motors for some or all vehicle propulsion.
To meet those needs, Clarios continues to advance battery technology—for example, launching the next generation of absorbent glass mat (AGM) batteries to enable start-stop applications.
AGM batteries deliver superior life and energy output to meet the specific needs of original equipment manufacturers and aftermarket customers. Our R&D team also continues to unlock further lead-acid battery capabilities— for example, finding ways to dramatically increase the dynamic charge acceptance (DCA) and cycling performance for advanced lead-acid batteries.
Improved DCA gives original equipment manufacturers (OEM) more flexibility to meet emissions standards through functions such as regenerative braking and to enhance consumer safety, comfort and convenience.
Q. Do your plans include making 12V batteries for the EV market? If so, how will Clarios achieve those plans— does it include going beyond traction batteries to chemistries that can deliver greater demands in terms of electrical loads regarding safety and comfort?
A. In addition to the advancements mentioned above (AGM and advanced lead-acid batteries), Clarios is working on how to tailor 12V lead-acid battery solutions to optimise performance in full electric vehicles.
While the high-voltage battery is the primary power source in these vehicles, the 12V plays critical roles in normal vehicle operation, supporting consumer-oriented features, and providing emergency power when needed to enable safe operation of the vehicle.
We expect the requirements for 12V batteries in these applications to continue evolving, especially with the introduction of more sophisticated autonomous functionality. We will have the advanced technology solutions that our customers will need.
Q. Does this mean the company will be working in the smart-battery technology field, and how do you define a ’smart-battery’?
A. To clarify, our focus is on “smart” solutions for our customers, going beyond the battery to meet evolving performance needs. The smart battery is one that fulfills the needs of vehicle platforms via the best technology application that maximises safety and sustainability.
Equally important is a battery that can enable a circular economy. Up to 99% of the materials in a lead-acid battery can be recovered, recycled and remade. And by using recycled raw materials, we lower energy and greenhouse gas emissions by 90%.
Q. What is the company’s current manufacturing capacity?
A. Clarios currently operates as a global energy storage business with more than 16,000 employees, 56 facilities worldwide and 154 million batteries produced per year.
Q. What investments are Clarios making in the US and internationally?
A. Primarily in the US, we will continue a multi-year investment of more than $200 million to increase AGM capacity.
Q. Johnson Controls Power Solutions has a long relationship with the Ford Motor Co., will this continue under the Clarios brand?
Our AGM technology plays a key role in Ford’s future roadmap. Like us, Ford expects AGM demand to grow as vehicles carry increasing electrical loads and need a reliable, superior battery.
The company has already begun expanding AGM use beyond start-stop vehicles. Our current global work with Ford is throughout the US, Mexico, Europe and China.
Clarios was formerly known as Johnson Controls Power Solutions, the company bought by investment firms Brookfield Business Partners and CDPQ last November.