The Clarios name appeared overnight on office building signs and elevators at its suburban Milwaukee headquarters, where it still shares an employee cafeteria and nurses station with Johnson Controls Inc. But Brookfield will now take Clarios, with its $8 billion in global original equipment and aftermarket battery sales, on a growth plan beyond its current segment-leading size.
"We're the world's largest battery maker by a wide margin, compared to any of our competitors," Walicki says. "But we feel that our race is far from run."
Clarios knows electrification is poised to rewrite vehicle powertrains over the coming decade. But the supplier is not talking about plunging into EV battery modules with the likes of Samsung, Panasonic, LG Chem and A123 Systems. Instead, Walicki says Clarios' strategy is to stick to its lead-acid guns.
The company is betting on growing demand for two emerging technologies in lead-acid. One is known as absorbent glass mat, a hardier battery to support vehicles with stop-start systems. The other is known as an enhanced flooded battery, built for an extended life, with a larger number of charging cycles.
"We make one in three batteries globally today," Walicki says. "But as you move toward these advanced batteries, that's where the demand is going up significantly. We make one in two — and growing. That's what the future is going to demand.
"Today we have more capacity than all of our competitors in the world combined to produce these advanced batteries," he says.