Our History

Saft's Key Milestones

2007-present: Multi-technology leadership worldwide

2016

  • Saft has celebrated 50 years in space since the launch of Diapason 1A satellite on February 17, 1966
  • Opening of a new subsidiary in Japan to strengthen Saft’s presence in Asia
  • President Obama visits Saft America’s advanced lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant
  • Inauguration of a new larger advanced technology facility in Zhuhai to double the Group’s production capacity in China

2014

  • Saft's primary lithium battery powers Philae Lander on historic comet touchdown and data collection
  • 100 million primary lithium batteries manufactured in Zhuhai, China for metering and electronic toll collection
  • Launch of Seanergy® marine lithium-ion modules for clean propulsion applications

2012

  • Launch of first lithium-ion solution for railway applications designed for regenerative hybrid traction.
  • Scuderia Ferrari recognises Saft with 2012 Innovation Award.
  • Milestone of 1 MWh of Saft lithium-ion batteries in space.

2010

  • International expansion continues with new subsidiary in Brazil.
  • Launch of high-energy Evolion® lithium-ion battery system optimised for all telecom applications.

2007

  • Launch of Tel.X range, the most compact maintenance-free solution for telecom networks.

2015

  • Ghislain Lescuyer appointed Chairman of the Management Board of Saft
  • Launch of Xcelion 6T: the lithium-ion drop-in replacement for lead-acid batteries
  • Saft reinforces its leadership in China’s smart metering market with two major new orders for over 45 million primary lithium batteries

2013

  • Opening of new subsidiary in Moscow for Russian and CIS markets
  • Sale of small nickel battery activity (SNB) in Nersac, France
  • Li-ion battery on board the Airbus A350 XWB's maiden flight
  • Inauguration of state-of-the-art plant in Bangalore, India, to support local nickel-based market in standby power, railway, telecom and aviation.

2011

  • Inauguration of state-of-the-art lithium-ion plant in Jacksonville, FL (USA).
  • Sale of shares in Johnson Controls-Saft joint venture.
  • Launch of Intensium® Max megawatt scale containerised energy storage system.

2008

  • Saft, Conergy and Tenesol launch SOLION, Europe's largest photovoltaic energy storage development project.
  • Johnson Controls-Saft opens world’s first production facility for lithium-ion hybrid vehicle batteries in Nersac, France.

2005-2006 : Expanding into emerging markets

2006

  • Opening of Saft China in Zhuhai to support domestic market.
  • Creation of joint-venture between Saft and Johnson Controls Inc. to develop, produce and sell advanced-technology batteries for hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and electric vehicles (EVs).
  • Saft takes control of AMCO Power Systems Ltd of Bangalore, the nickel-based battery business of Amalgamations private Ltd. The entity is called AMCO-Saft India Ltd.

  • EADS and Saft America combine their expertise in thermal batteries via ASB to form a new subsidiary, Advanced Thermal Batteries Inc., located in Cockeysville, Maryland.

2005

  • Saft becomes a Public Limited Company with shares listed on the Paris Bourse.

  • Saft’s Battery Energy Storage System, developed for the Golden Valley Electrical Association in Fairbanks, Alaska, recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as “the world’s most powerful battery”.

1995-2004: External growth

2004

  • Saft sold by Alcatel to Doughty Hanson Funds (DHF).

  • The Mars Exploration Rovers “Spirit” and “Opportunity” land on Mars with Saft batteries on board. Their primary cells were built by Saft America in Valdese, NC, and Cockeysville, MD.

2002

  • John Searle appointed President of Saft.

2000

  • Acquisition of Tadiran, an Israeli manufacturer of lithium batteries, with operations in Israel, the United States and Germany, including a 50% stake in Sonnenschein Lithium in Germany. Disposal of some product lines to focus on the Lithium Thionyl Chloride technology.
  • A new technology, the Pulse Plus, introduced by Tadiran and the main reason for the rapid growth of the company.

1995

  • Alcatel repurchases all the shares of Saft S.A. that were de-listed in 1995.
  • Saft aquires Ferak, once part of Prague Accumulors, who moved to the Raskovice site in the Czech Republic in 1953. The company has been producing nickel-based batteries since 1934 under licence from DEAC, the company that produced Thomas Edison’s first battery.
  • Lockheed F-22 contract signed – the first application of Saft’s nickel AMFB (Aircraft Maintenance-Free Battery).

2003

  • Acquisition of the German company Friemann und Wolf Batterietechnik GmbH (Friwo), and the assets of Emisa and Centra, from Exide, producer of industrial nickel-based and lithium batteries for the defence industry and torpedoes.
  • Saft Batterie Italia SRL created.
  • Saft Baterias S.L. created to cover the Spanish, Portuguese and South American markets. It is the outcome of Saft’s acquisition of some of EMISA’s (Exide Technologies) assets, including the brand name, from Tudor Spain.
  • Saft’s Czech subsidiary acquires CENTRA.
  • The Northrop Grumman Global Hawk contract signed: the first lithium-ion aircraft application.

2001

  • Acquisition of Hawker Eternacell, lithium battery supplier to the US and UK armed forces since 1937. Increases in ASB stake from 22% to 50%. Increases in stake in Sonneschein Lithium from 50% to 100%.
  • Tadiran Batteries acquires the remaining 50% of its 50% German subsidiary Sonneschein Lithium Batteries.
  • Inauguration of the manufacturing plant in Valdosta, Georgia, to produce NCX batteries for the telecommunications market.
  • Manufacturing of LiSo2, LiSOCl2, LiMnO2 begins in the UK.

1998

  • Start of telecom nickel battery manufacturing for Saft.

1980-1994: Reaching new Heights

1994

  • Saft America awarded TRP funds by the US military for development of lithium-ion products.

1988

  • Saft China created in Hong Kong and Shekou, the site of a factory. They produce and sell portable accumulators.
  • Saft Australia Pty created with its head office in Sydney. It is responsible for the sale of all Saft and ALCAD products in Australia.

1985

  • Creation of Saft Scandinavia, responsible for selling nickel-based accumulators (industrial and portable), special generators and lithium and industrial batteries.
  • Sale of consumer battery activities to Bernard Tapie and acquisition of the activities of the industrial battery company Wonder.

1980

  • Saft Singapore Ltd created, selling nickel-based accumulators (portable and industrial), lithium and industrial batteries and GTA, and also producing power cabinets.
  • The CGE group slowly transitions into Alcatel and Alsthom.
  • CGE decides to combine two of its battery subsidiaries into one and creates Saft-Mazda.

1993

  • Purchase of Gates Aerospace Batteries, who produce batteries for satellites.

1989

  • French explorer Jean-Louis Etienne and his team embark on their Transantarctica mission for seven months. Thanks to Saft batteries (functioning properly in extreme temperature, in this case -70°C) they are able to maintain contact with civilisation.

1987

  • Acquisition of Alcad Ltd., an international firm based in the UK and its American subsidiary based in North Haven, Connecticut, bringing sales activity in North America. Saft’s first significant entry into the American industrial standby market.

1983

  • Creation of Saft Italia using the two agents already working for Saft in Cegelec Alsthom Italiana. Initial focus on industrial stationary batteries, later followed by growth in the portable activity.
  • Acquisition of the Gould Battery Company with plants in St. Paul, Minnesota and Tijuana, Mexico. Minnesota operations relocated to the Valdosta, Georgia site. This acquisition represents Saft’s first manufacturing capability of nickel-based portable cells in North America.

1980's

  • Mass production of primary lithium cells (Li-SOCl2 and Li-MnO2).

1960-1975: Discoveries and Growth

1975

  • Inauguration of a new factory in Nersac, France.

1969

  • Li-SOCl2 electrochemistry discovered by Saft.

  • Concorde prototypes make their first flights using Saft nickel-based batteries.
  • Saft Akkumulatoren und Batterien GmbH, the Germany subsidiary, created in Offenbach.

1974

  • Creation of Saft America Inc. with the construction of a factory in Valdosta, Georgia.

1972

  • Saft Iberica, Spain, created in Vitoria.

1966

  • Creation of Saft UK, the British subsidiary.

1965

  • Saft files its first patents on primary lithium.
  • Construction of Saft’s factory in Poitiers, France.

1920-1955: The making of an international Group

1955

  • Creation of the subsidiary Saft Corporation of America.

1949

  • Creation of SAFTA in Belgium, Saft’s very first subsidiary.
  • Inauguration of Saft’s Bordeaux, factory, France.

1946

  • Cadmium Nickel Batteries established in the UK by Henry Bissle Ltd.

1924

  • Saft S.A. shares listed on the Paris Bourse.

1952

  • Acquisition of “La Pile Leclanché”, whose roots can be traced back to around 1880 when they first began producing Georges Leclanché’s revolutionary battery. The company was known by several names, including “Barbier et Cie” and “La société des Etablissements Leclanché”.
  • Saft service station in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, established to maintain and overhaul Saft batteries on board trains and ships.

1928

  • Acquisition of Saft by Compagnie Générale d’Electricité (later to become Alcatel).

1899-1918: From inspiration to industry

1918

  • S.I.A.A. production starts. Name change to “La Société des Accumulateurs Fixes et de Traction” (S.A.F.T), which manufactures and distributes nickel-based batteries for industrial applications and storehouse trolleys. Some of the first Saft batteries used to power luggage carousels in Paris stations.

1901

  • Introduction of nickel-based technology by Thomas Edison and Jungner, originally intended for electric vehicles. For many years production is based at Romainville.

1899

  • The first design of nickel-based pocket plate electrodes – patented by Waldemar Jungner.

1913

  • Swiss chemical engineer Victor Hérold founds “La Société Industrielle des Accumulateurs Alcalins” (S.I.A.A), based on the technology developed by Edison and Jungner, in Romainville, near Paris, France. World War I prevents production from starting.

1910

  • Edison, noticing weaknesses in his pocket plate technology, invents tubular cells. Both Saft and Varta apply the technology some years later (and continue into the eighties); the batteries are used at the high end of the electric forklift truck market.