Johnson Controls is to add more manufacturing capacity for batteries powering start-stop vehicles in China.

The supplier is increasing production of Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) batteries in its Changxing, Zhejiang Province facility, from 1.5m to 3.4m a year.

“Increasing orders of AGM batteries from customers looking to improve fuel efficiency of vehicles has prompted us to add to our manufacturing capacity and we expect this momentum towards start-stop technology to continue,” said Johnson Controls Power Solutions China VP and general manager, Kenneth Yeng.

Currently, around 5% of new vehicles in China have start-stop systems. The company predicts this number to rise to around 40% by 2020 as automakers have been challenged to meet aggressive fuel economy targets set by the government.

AGM batteries are the technology at the heart of start-stop systems, which Johnson Controls claims delivers consumers 5% fuel savings every time they fill up their petrol tank.

The engine automatically shuts off when the car is idle and restarts when the driver’s foot leaves the brake pedal.

During this time, the vehicle’s electrical systems – from entertainment to lights – use energy from a lead-acid battery rather than the gas-powered engine, thus saving fuel.

“Start-stop is the best solution to help automakers meet increasingly strict environmental regulations,” said Yeng.

“Being the world’s leading provider of batteries for start-stop vehicles, we are confident we can provide the same high-quality performing products and services to customers in China.”

Johnson Controls recently announced it will invest $555m between 2011 and 2020 to expand AGM battery production capacity in Germany, the US and China in anticipation of increasing global demand.

In August, the multi-industrial company also unveiled plans to build a $200m plant in Shenyang, China, to produce batteries for start-stop vehicles.

Johnson Controls entered the Chinese automotive battery supply market in 2005 and has set up two battery manufacturing plants in Chongqing and Changxing.

It also has an energy storage research and development centre in Shanghai.

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