Micro-hybrid powertrains could be big news for Michigan, according to a report on MLive early in May.
Unlike hybrid electric motors produced today, micro-hybrids will operate at less than 60 volts. That will lower the cost because the danger of electrocution is eliminated and the need to add safety features is reduced, according to MaryAnn Wright, vice president of technology and innovation for Johnson Controls Inc. Power Solutions.
“That’s good news for West Michigan because the lithium ion batteries for that micro-hybrid will be made at Johnson Control’s advanced battery plant in Holland,” according to the MLive report on a presentation Wright made at a Holland-area economic development agency on May 9.
"The cost of hybrid and electric vehicles raise too many objections among consumers despite the fuel savings they offer,” Wright said. “We want to make sure the cost matches up with the fuel economy.” Coupled with “start-stop” technology that automatically shuts off an engine when a car is at standstill, Wright said micro-hybrid cars will see a 15 percent to 20 percent improvement in fuel economy.
Micro-hybrids are likely to appear on the market first in Europe, where fuel costs are higher and emission standards are stricter, the story noted, but a lot of developments in advanced-battery research and manufacturing are concentrated in west Michigan, including 150 jobs at Johnson Controls’ Holland plant, which provides lithium ion batteries for several hybrid vehicle platforms, including XL Hybrids, a General Motors division, Mercedes Benz and Daimler.
Down the road from Johnson Controls, LG Chem will begin producing batteries for Chevrolet’s Volt starting in July.