Foreign battery maker bought: Local manufacturer further expands into electrification

Cummins Inc. has purchased another company to help charge its desire to be a leader in the electrification industry.

The Columbus-based global diesel engine and power systems maker last week finalized the acquisition of Johnson Matthey’s UK-based automotive battery systems business.

The business, based in the southern England town of Milton Keynes, has 50 employees and is one of Europe’s largest lithium-ion battery system suppliers. It is a subsidiary of Johnson Matthey, a multinational sustainable technologies company, and specializes in high-voltage, automotive-grade battery systems for electric and hybrid vehicles, Cummins said.

The purchase allows Cummins to expand its electrification and energy storage capabilities, the company said.

“The addition of Johnson Matthey Battery Systems’ technical expertise and customer base in markets that are more rapidly adopting electrification further positions us as a global energy storage supplier,” Cummins Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger said. “By combining our electrification capabilities, portfolio of diverse power solutions and global network, Cummins is uniquely positioned to lead in electrification.”

As part of the deal, Cummins and Johnson Matthey agreed to collaborate on the development of high-energy battery materials for commercial heavy-duty applications.

Cummins also said it would continue to explore other opportunities to add electrification capabilities.

The company already has made multiple acquisitions to aid its electrification efforts, which diversify its markets and customers, and plans to begin offering electrified products to consumers next year.

Cummins last year announced that it would offer a fully electric powertrain — the main components that generate power, such as the engine, transmission and drive shafts — by 2019, and an extended-range powertrain, electrified but with an engine to power the battery, by 2020. The initial focus would be on the bus market, particularly in urban areas, the company said.

“Electrified power is becoming economically viable is some of our markets,” Julie Furber, executive director of Electrification Business development, said Aug. 29 during a research and development event at its Columbus Technical Center.

Also at the event, Cummins unveiled a prototype of an electric-powered semi cab that produces zero emissions and can travel 100 miles on a single charge, the company said at the event.

On Oct. 9, Cummins and GILLIG announced an electrified power partnership. The collaboration involves integrating and optimizing new battery electric technology offered by Cummins to power GILLIG zero-emissions transit buses.

Cummins announced Oct. 16 the purchase of Oregon-based Brammo Inc., an energy storage technology company, to help accelerate Cummins’ electrification platform. Brammo designs and develops low-voltage battery packs for mobile and stationary applications.

The acquisition of Johnson Matthey’s high-voltage battery expertise gives Cummins capability across the entire range of energy storage options, the Columbus company said.

Cummins earnings

Columbus-based Cummins Inc. will announce its fourth-quarter and full-year 2017 earnings Tuesday morning. The Republic will provide coverage online Tuesday and in Wednesday’s print edition.

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Kirk Johannesen is assistant managing editor of The Republic. He can be reached at johannesen@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5639.