Daily GPI / NGI All News Access / Natural Gas Vehicles (NGV)

NGV Engine Firm Gets Private Equity Boost

Vancouver, BC-based Westport Innovations recently secured $71.3 million in financing from New York City-based Cartesian Capital Group. Cartesian founder and Managing Partner Peter Yu will join the Westport board.

The funding will come in three tranches and will give the growing NGV firm additional non-dilutive capital, starting with $17.5 million, according to Westport CEO David Demers. Up to another $53.8 million will be forthcoming based upon Westport reaching key milestones and establishing investment opportunities.

The initial funding ($17.5 million) is being made in consideration of future income streams from the Westport HPDI engine technology for original equipment manufacturers (OEM) and joint venture products, offering payments to Cartesian through 2025.

"Westport is now working with seven OEM applications with engine sizes ranging from trucks to trains at various stages of development with the goal of vertically integrated Westport HPDI 2.0 OEM product lines," according to the Canadian company's website.

A second $17.5 million in convertible debenture notes will be coming at the time of Westport's close of a merger of New York-based Fuel Systems Solutions into its Vancouver operations (see Daily GPISept. 2, 2015). The companies are merging their respective alternative fuel equipment companies into a new entity, Westport Fuel Systems, headquartered in Vancouver.

Another $16.3 million is slated to come from Westport selling Cartesian certain assets, subject to due diligence by the acquiring company. That transaction is slated to close May 30, and at that time, Westport said that details on which of its assets are involved will be made.

Finally, an additional $20 million of streaming capacity has been committed by Cartesian toward supporting two or more product development ventures as agreed to by the two parties.

"This financing creates a solid financial foundation and clear path to the commercial launch of key products," Demers said. "It also removes any concern regarding Westport's balance sheet." If certain return thresholds are met, Westport also will be able to tap into up to 30% of the profits realized by Cartesian.

In Tampa, FL, U.S. Oil-Gain Clean Fuel opened the last of five compressed natural gas (CNG) stations under a partnership with transportation company Core-Mark, which has 210 CNG tractor-trailers with plans to add more.

Core-Mark's Jason Nevin, Florida division president, credited Gain's expertise with making the transition to CNG easy. "CNG advances our commitment to becoming more environmentally friendly through improved sustainable business practices," Nevin said.

The other Gain CNG stations serving the Core-Mark fleet are located in Sanford, NC, Smyrna, GA, Aurora, CO, and Forrest City, AR.

Nationally, a new rule issued by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires that ethanol blended fuels be labeled at the gas pump as "Use Only in Flex-Fuel Vehicles/May Harm Other Engines." Trade groups warned that consumers still may incorrectly fuel their single-engine vehicles and issued a notice warning consumers to "look before you pump."

"This is a wake-up call for Americans," said Kris Kiser, CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, which represents power equipment, engine and utility vehicle manufacturers and suppliers. "It is more important than ever for consumers to pay attention at the gas pump so they put the right fuel in the right product."

Kiser is calling for FTC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to do more public education for consumers on proper fuel usage.

Meanwhile, NGV trade group NGVAmerica and others in the heavy truck industry are monitoring how the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) enforces its new 2,000-pound exemption for Class 8 NGV trucks authorized by the new Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) law.

FHA could issue guidance instead of regulations, opting to advise state highway agencies, rather than go through a more time-consuming regulatory process. The agency's Office of Freight Management Operations is developing an implementation strategy for the provision that was part of the $305 billion highway bill signed into law by President Obama in December (see Daily GPIDec. 7, 2015).

In Iowa, Zebulon Innovations has become the exclusive U.S. distributor for Impco Automotive's third model year and beyond CNG and propane autogas (LPG) vehicle conversions, along with systems for newer vehicles that have exceeded Impco's original 25,000-mile odometer restriction. Zebulon is also the North American importer/distributor of CNG and LPG automotive conversion systems made by Italy's Zavoli.

Both Impco and Zavoli are part of Fuel Systems Solutions Inc., referred to earlier as in the midst of merging with Westport Innovations.

In California, the new state energy commission-funded San Joaquin Valley Clean Transportation Center in Fresno, CA, is now ready to provide technical assistance, project development expertise and support with acquiring funding for local vehicle fleet owners, local governments, businesses and residents in the central valley region of California.

The clean transportation facility, sporting a $1.2 million energy commission grant, will be headed by Joseph Oldham, a former acquisition specialist with the city of Fresno and a longtime supporter of alternative fuel vehicles.

Copyright ©2018 Natural Gas Intelligence - All Rights Reserved.
ISSN © 2577-9877 | ISSN © 1532-1231

Recent Articles by Richard Nemec

Comments powered by Disqus