Citing increased worldwide demand, Johnson Controls said it will invest $100 million to build a new plant in China that will produce batteries for start-stop vehicles such as hybrid electric cars.

The plant, which will supply global and local automakers in Asia, is expected to start production in early 2013.

By 2015, the company estimates that it will be able to annually produce 2.4 million start-stop batteries.

"We project that China will continue to be the fastest-growing market for automobiles through the end of this decade," said Kim Metcalf-Kupres, vice president of strategy, sales and marketing at Johnson Controls Power Solutions. "At the same time, interest in the environment and more energy-efficient vehicles is driving many of our OE customers to add start-stop vehicles to their fleets."

Johnson Controls anticipates that the global market for start-stop vehicles will grow to 35 million units by 2015.

To support this rapid growth, the company noted it is investing $520 million worldwide over the next four years in additional production capacity for start-stop batteries: $280 million in Germany; an additional $140 million in the United States; and $100 million in China.

Johnson Controls is a supplier of start-stop batteries in Europe through its VARTA brand. In Germany, the company's plants in Hanover and Zwickau produce more than 11 million start-stop batteries annually.

The company also is adding 6.8 million units of capacity in the United States.