DETROIT - Seven weeks after announcing their partnership on future product development, Yazaki North America Inc. and Johnson Controls Inc. have unveiled a 42-volt auto battery.
The partners would not say what automaker the jointly developed battery initially is for, but they indicated it will be fitted in a production vehicle in 2003 or shortly thereafter.
The auto industry has been envisioning the advent of more powerful auto batteries for several years. The current 14-volt standard battery is being strained to the limits by the increased use of electronic devices.
That problem will get much worse in the next three to four years, as automakers introduce such power-hungry features as electronic brakes, Internet entertainment and electronics-based safety systems.
In January, the two companies said that they would partner to combine Yazaki's expertise in electronics with JCI's power in the world interiors business.
The 42-volt battery presented during this month's SAE World Congress is a logical combination of those two disciplines.
'A lot of vehicles today are already running short of power,' said Nigel Thompson, executive vice president of Yazaki, of Canton, Michigan, USA. 'You can especially see it in some higher-end cars and trucks that are loaded with the new electronics.'
Bigger batteries will be the critical component to allow automakers to install the various electronics they are now planning.
The JCI-Yazaki tie-up used an Inspira battery made by JCI and electronic circuitry supplied by Yazaki North America, a subsidiary of Japan's Yazaki Corp.
To make the concept work, JCI uses both a 42-volt battery and a power distribution system that is capable of supplying 14-volt power as needed. The lower voltage will supply the power for a vehicle's lighting system. Too much power can cause ordinary light bulbs to blow, while bulbs that can handle the higher voltage are too delicate for vehicle use.
Jim Geschke, vice president of electronics integration for JCI, said: 'Our 42-volt vehicle project with Yazaki will ultimately result in dramatic improvements.'