The United States Department of Energy has awarded Johnson Controls a US$299m grant to build US manufacturing capacity for hybrid and electric vehicle batteries.

The award, part of a package announced by President Barack Obama in Elkhart, Indiana, last night, was made under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and is for about half of the auto battery and interior supplier’s planned investment of $600m in ‘advanced’ battery manufacturing and infrastructure development.

“This investment is an important step toward creating and building an industry in the United States that addresses market requirements and long-term opportunities for growth and new jobs in this country,” said Alex Molinaroli, ‘power solutions’ president at Johnson Controls. “We have assembled a world-class team of suppliers and automotive manufacturers, and we believe this comprehensive approach will enable the United States to establish a domestic industry that is competitive, economically viable and sustainable.”

Last April, a Johnson Controls-Saft joint venture was awarded $148.5m by Michigan to build a facility to make lithium-ion cells and complete hybrid battery systems in Holland in the state.

Holland will supply customers world wide, including Ford for its first plug-in hybrid vehicle for 2012, Azure Dynamics for the 2010 launch of the next generation Balance hybrid electric commercial vehicle, Daimler and BMW.

Johnson Controls-Saft earlier this year began production at the world’s first automotive lithium-ion cell manufacturing and battery assembly facility in Nersac, France.