Recharge Wrap-up: brighter LEDs for Tesla Model X, French nuclear plant uses EV shuttles

Johnson Controls builds plant for stop-start batteries in China; Montreal airport gets Tesla taxis.

The EDF nuclear power plant in Civaux, France is using autonomous, electric shuttles to move employees around. Built by Navya, the unmanned shuttled recharge on their own using a wireless charging system. The shuttles use sensors to navigate, and are able to avoid obstacles and prevent potentially dangerous accidents. The self-driving shuttles are also expected to improve productivity through lower costs and less waiting time. EDF also provides preferential pricing for EVs for their customers to encourage environmentally responsible driving. See the shuttles in the video above, and read more at Technologic Vehicles.

Teslarati provides a review and tutorial for replacing the Model X interior ambient lighting system with brighter LEDs from Abstract Ocean. The aftermarket Ultra-Bright LED upgrade provides a lot more usefulness than the subtle lighting provided in Tesla's Premium Upgrade Package, especially in the "frunk" and rear storage areas. Abstract Ocean offers a package of 13 LEDs for $121.99, or four for $45.99. Read all about it at Teslarati.

A fleet of 10 Tesla Model S taxis is now operating out of the Montréal-Trudeau Airport. Operated by app-based Téo Taxi in partnership with the airport, the service offers a more environmentally friendly way to get to and from the terminal. The pilot project, authorized by the Quebec transport department, will continue until at least November 2017. Read more at Electrek.

Johnson Controls is building its fourth automotive battery plant in China. As part of a joint venture with BAIC subsidiary Binzhou Bohai Piston, the plant will produce conventional and absorbent glass mat (AGM) batteries for stop-start systems. "In the China market there is strong demand for auto part technologies that can improve fuel efficiency and there will be rapid growth for AGM batteries in start-stop vehicles," says BAIC Group director Han Yonggui. Construction of the plant is scheduled to begin in 2017, with battery production beginning two years later. Read more at Green Car Congress, and in the press release below.

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Johnson Controls to build 4th automotive battery plant in China

Company forms joint venture with Binzhou Bohai Piston Co., adding capacity to meet growing demand for fuel efficient technology

MILWAUKEE, June 9, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Johnson Controls is forming a joint venture with Binzhou Bohai Piston Co., Ltd., an auto parts affiliate of Beijing Automotive Industry Group Co., Ltd. (BAIC Group), to build its fourth Chinese automotive battery manufacturing plant. Aimed at serving both automakers and aftermarket customers, the facility will be located in Binzhou, Shandong Province.

"We understand China market dynamics, consumer demands and both short and long-term energy storage technology needs," said Joe Walicki, president, Johnson Controls Power Solutions. "This joint venture is a strategic move to position Johnson Controls and Bohai Piston to take advantage of what will be the world's largest automotive battery market by 2020."

At full capacity, the more than $200 million USD plant will employ 650 people who will manufacture both conventional flooded and absorbent glass mat (AGM) battery technologies. AGM powers start-stop systems, which increase vehicle fuel efficiency up to 5 percent, helping automakers meet increasingly strict environmental regulations.

"In the China market there is strong demand for auto part technologies that can improve fuel efficiency and there will be rapid growth for AGM batteries in start-stop vehicles," said Han Yonggui, BAIC Group director and chairman of Beijing Hainachuan Automotive Parts Co., Ltd. (BHAP). "The new joint venture will position both companies to take advantage of this market opportunity and we believe our cooperation with Johnson Controls, the global automotive battery leader, will help promote leading products and technologies in China."

By 2020, 50 percent, or about 15 million new vehicles will be equipped with start-stop functionality in China, saving an estimated 1.2 billion liters of gasoline per year. It also reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 2.8 million metric tons per year.

"With the combination of Johnson Controls leading technologies, large market demand from BAIC Group members and from the aftermarket, as well as favorable investment conditions in Binzhou, we believe the joint venture will be a great success," said Lin Fenghua, chairman of Binzhou Bohai Piston Co., Ltd.

"Our technology and battery capabilities, combined with the Bohai Piston growth platform and favorable Binzhou location, is a real winning combination," said Kenneth Yeng, vice president and general manager, Johnson Controls Power Solutions China.

Construction of the state-of-the-art facility is expected to begin in 2017, with production starting two years later. Once up and running, the plant will be able to produce 7.5 million batteries per year.

"Johnson Controls remains committed to serving our customers wherever they are in the world with investments such as this manufacturing plant and joint venture, which brings our leading technologies and global best practices to China," said Trent Nevill, president, Johnson Controls Asia Pacific.

Approximately 23.5 million new vehicles were produced in China in 2015, making it the world's largest automotive market. In 2015, Johnson Controls announced it signed an agreement to build a new battery manufacturing facility in Shenyang, China. It is expected to start operations in 2018. The company also has battery plants in Chongqing and Changxing, and an energy storage research and development center in Shanghai.

For images of the signing ceremony, as well as AGM battery technology, please click here.

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