Major Lithium Ion Battery Plant Begins Operation

It’s being called the world’s first factory dedicated to the manufacturing of lithium ion batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles has gone into operation. The Nersac, France plant is a joint venture between Johnson Controls, the world’s largest supplier of automotive batteries, and Saft Advanced Power Solutions, a leading producer of nickel cadmium and lithium ion batteries. The factory will produce up to 5,000 battery packs a year for Daimler AG for use in the Mercedes-Benz S-class series of luxury hybrids, said Johnson Controls spokesman Steve Greene. Mercedes-Benz is introducing its S400, a hybrid version of its S-Class luxury sedan, in the United States. The vehicle, expected to roll out in 2010, will be equipped with a 275 horsepower V6 engine with lithium batteries and is expected to deliver fuel economy of 30 miles per gallon.

Last month, Johnson Controls also announced a production contract with Chinese automaker Chery for hybrid batteries. Another Chinese carmaker, SAIC, has also asked Johnson Controls to supply batteries for hybrids.

“This manufacturing facility demonstrates our ongoing commitment to hybrid technology,” said Mary Ann Wright, vice president and general manager of Johnson Controls’ hybrid battery business.

Most major automakers are developing hybrid and electric vehicles, so the need for lighter, smaller, and more robust lithium ion batteries, is likely to significantly increase in the next few years. For that reason, the joint venture invested 15 million euros, or about $22 million, to allow the plant to increase production capacity as the market grows. Mass production of lithium ion batteries, even at the relatively small numbers, is expected to bring down the costs of lithium batteries. Cost remains a critical obstacle to the widespread use of lithium batteries in cars.

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  • Herb

    Why just 30 miles? Just make the car smaller and lighter, and you’ll get that. When are they going to make a real green car?

  • Bert

    They should get a few pointers from:
    Hybrid Technologies

  • Andy

    Off topic, but could someone explain to me why Hybrid Technologies calls themselves that when they make pure electric cars… Do they think hybrid means electric?

  • StefanU

    Why don’t you just ask that to Al Gores’ homes? I don’t like 30 miles but at least it’s progress, even more for the 20 mpg Lexus LS 600hL.

    “When are they going to make a real green car?”

    The answer is something is better than nothing. Unfortunaletly, everybody has his/her own desires and needs.

  • mbataru

    all innovations are at the beginning luxuries and are paid by the very rich in the society.

  • Gandalf

    It makes sense to introduce new technology at the high end where people are not so price sensitive. The learning premiums will not have much resistance to a customer who expects to pay $75,000 for a car vs. one who expects to pay $20,000.

    Also, if there are glitches, it will be easier to recall 20,000 cars vs. 200,000.

    Once the experience curve helps to de-bug and ramp up volume, unit costs will decline and make the technology easier to introduce on more price sensitive models, especially as gasoline costs continue to rise.

  • Jeff

    The classic definitions of innovation include:
    The act of introducing something new: something newly introduced (The American Heritage Dictionary).
    The introduction of something new. (Merriam-Webster Online)
    A new idea, method or device. (Merriam-Webster Online)
    The successful exploitation of new ideas (Department of Trade and Industry, UK).
    Change that creates a new dimension of performance Peter Drucker (Hesselbein, 2002)


    I do not see anything that says innovation is inherently expensive. If you were correct the Prius would be sold for far more than it is. That being said, the more LiPo batteries these guys buy the better it is for the rest of us.

  • Navy

    I dont know what this company is thinking about. 30 mpg for an advance luxury car. Dont they know that all we need is a sometype of a vehicle that can make 60+ mpg and some creature comfort. 30 mpg do not solve anything, I might as well stick with the car that I have now that makes 31 mpg.