US giant Johnson Controls has sounded a note of hope for the lead-acid battery industry in China, adding enough manufacturing capacity in its Changxing, Zhejiang Province factory to double production of stop-start batteries.
The company plans to double its factory’s current annual production total from 1.5 million units to 3.4 million in a sign that the country’s demand for fuel-efficient vehicles is still on the rise, whether that be in electric vehicles, hybrids or the stop-start option.
According to the Chinese government’s statistics, about 5% of the new vehicles in China have stop-start systems, but with Johnson Controls expecting this rate to increase to 40%, the company appears to have decided to make the most of it.
In August, Johnson unveiled plans to build a $200 million plant in northeast China’s Shenyang, in Liaoning Province. This is slated to begin production early 2018 and will have the capacity to produce six million Enhanced Flooded and Absorbent Glass Matt batteries a year.
Passenger vehicles in China are being forced to meet a 27% improvement in fuel consumption by 2020, compared with 6.8 litres per 100 km this year.
“The start-stop system is emerging as an ideal solution to help automakers meet the increasingly strict environmental regulations,” said Ray Shemanski, a Johnson Controls vice-president overseeing aftermarket and power products.
“China in particular is an attractive market for growth. It is growing rapidly and offers us opportunities to continue to grow our business and expand our network. In the short term, the big opportunity is going to be the start-stop vehicle technology.”