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Johnson Controls, Saft end Li-ion EV joint venture

Posted: 06 Sep 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Li-ion? vehicle batteries? hybrid? electric vehicles?

Johnson Controls Inc. has acquired Saft's share in the energy venture company Johnson ControlsCSaft which the two companies created in 2006 for the development of Li-ion vehicle batteries.

Under the terms of the agreement, Johnson Controls will acquire Saft's share of the company for $145 million. The agreement includes 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. The transaction, which is subject to regulatory clearances, could close as early as Sept. 30, 2011.

"We appreciate the relationship we have had with Saft and are pleased that we have been able to resolve this matter in a mutually beneficial way," said Alex Molinaroli, president, Johnson Controls Power Solutions, in a statement.

"Saft management is now fully concentrated on pursuing the exciting opportunities for our Li-ion technologies in all the markets we choose," said John Searle, Chairman of Saft's Management board of the Bagnolet, France company.

The parties' agreement to end their relationship will also terminate all legal proceedings. Johnson Controls took legal action last May to dissolve the joint venture. "Johnson Controls and Saft have a fundamental disagreement about the future direction and appropriate scope of the joint venture," said Alex Molinaroli, president, Johnson Controls Power Solutions, at that time.

In essence, the agreement held Johnson Controls back from entering other than automotive markets, markets that Saft already had been winning share."The industry is evolving rapidly and the investments needed to achieve market leadership require us to do more than the joint venture has done or can do," said Molinari in May.

Johnson Controls maintained that as vehicle power train technologies continue to evolve and new markets emerge for advanced batteries, the company wanted to have access to multiple alternative technologies and be able to flexibly participate more broadly across the energy storage space.

All assets of the joint venture will be retained by Johnson Controls, with the exception of a facility in Nersac, France, which will be transferred to Saft at the end of 2012.

As part of the separation agreement, Johnson Controls will operate the company and will fulfill the company's existing contractual agreements.

Just last month President Obama lauded new battery technologies on a tour of the Johnson ControlsCSaft advanced battery center in Holland, MI, the first facility in the U.S. to produce complete lithium-ion battery cells and systems for hybrid and electric vehicles.

- Nicolas Mokhoff
??EE Times

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