Johnson Controls Inc. took the first steps to dissolve its lithium ion battery joint venture with Saft Groupe SA today, but Saft said it would fight the dissolution.
Johnson Controls filed in Delaware’s Court of Chancery to end the partnership in order to pursue other technologies outside the company’s agreement with Saft to produce advanced lithium-ion batteries, Johnson Controls President Alex Molinaroli said in a press release.
“Johnson Controls and Saft have a fundamental disagreement about the future direction and appropriate scope of the joint venture,” Molinaroli said in the statement. “The industry is evolving rapidly and the investments needed to achieve market leadership requires us to do more than the joint venture has done or can do.”
In a press release of its own, Saft said it would oppose the court filing. The French company said it had proposed numerous compromises that were all rejected by Johnson Controls.
“Saft believes that, whilst some adjustments in the scope of JCS could be considered, it would not be in its strategic interest to address through JCS certain lithium-ion markets where Saft is already strongly positioned and enjoys a rapid development,” the company said in the statement.
Both companies said Johnson Controls’ filing would not affect the joint venture’s customers.
The joint venture was established in 2006 to develop and produce lithium-ion batteries. Johnson Controls manufactures car interiors and batteries for automobiles and hybrid vehicles. The French company Saft specializes in producing industrial nickel-cadmium batteries. Its lithium ion batteries have mainly targeted industrial or military users, rather than the automotive market.
Johnson Controls of Milwaukee ranks No. 8 on the Automotive News list of the top 100 global suppliers with $12.8 billion in global parts sales to automakers in 2009.