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Johnson Controls showing new prismatic automotive Li-ion cells and sub-modules at Geneva Motor Show; planning sub-module production in 2014

Johnson Controls will showcase its next-generation low-profile prismatic automotive lithium-ion cells and sub-modules at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show.

In September 2011, Johnson Controls and Saft reached an agreement to end their joint venture, Johnson Controls-Saft, which was formed in 2006 to develop and manufacture Li-ion vehicle batteries. Under the terms of the agreement, which also ended the legal actions between the two, Johnson Controls acquired Saft’s share of the JV for $145 million in cash. The agreement included an up-front royalty payment by Johnson Controls to Saft in return for an expanded license to Johnson Controls to use certain Saft Li-ion technology in all markets. (Earlier post.)

Johnson Controls says that the prismatic cells require less installation space and are easier to integrate into cars than cylindrical cells. The new submodules feature all the necessary components such as the storage cells themselves, an electric collector system, monitoring electronics, a cooling system and mechanical mounting options.

Modular systems are easier to adapt to different cars, shortening development times and making batteries more affordable to produce. Johnson Controls currently plans to produce submodules beginning in 2014, and as part of its application pending under the national showcase project, the company could launch these automatic production capabilities at its Hanover facility which will help to further reduce battery costs.

A Ford Transit Connect Electric delivery vehicle powered by a Johnson Controls lithium-ion battery will also be available for test drives on location.



Modular systems (using 6 to 12 standardized plug-in modules) should be the way to lower mass production cost and a way to offer future buyers various battery size-configuration options. The Tesla-S will have 3 (factory installed) battery size option. Plug-in modules would give many more choices and buyers could add more modules every year or so or whenever they can afford it. Another real advantage would be to benefit from on-going module performance improvement and lower purchase cost. A third advantage would be the possibility to replace a failed module without having to replace all the others.

It would be rather easy to include a full time module diagnostic engine to detect failing units and signal which module has to be replaced.

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