Former Opel CEO Michael Lohscheller has changed companies and moved to Nikola. At the end of February 2022, the US commercial vehicle manufacturer announced that Lohscheller had been appointed president of the company. So after just four months as managing director of Vietnamese automaker VinFast, he resigned from this office. Prior to that, he had spent four years running Opel Automobile GmbH.
Regardless of the many good news and developments around hydrogen, there must of course also be a critical consideration of the aspects that may, for example, hinder or delay rapid build-up of production capacity. In addition to adverse influences due in part to misunderstood or counterproductive regulatory measures (EU/Germany) are aspects such as the shortage of skilled workers, supply chain problems and financing.
Hyzon Motors was able to close the first quarter with a low stated loss of minus 0.03 USD per share. At the end of the quarter, cash and cash equivalents amounted to about 407 million USD. This should be evaluated in relation to the stock market valuation of about 1 billion USD. The build-up of capacity is proceeding according to plan. So 10 to 15 trucks for testing will be delivered to customers by the end of the year. A total of around 300 to 400 commercial vehicles are to be delivered in 2022. It is said that a variety of customers is involved, among them in China.
The expansion of the company is proceeding according to plan. Prototypes will be delivered so that customers can familiarize themselves with the vehicles (battery-electric and hydrogen-powered). The first successes can be reported: ten MCTs (Mobile Charging Trailers) have already been delivered (1.9 million USD in sales), which can fully charge battery-electric trucks in a hundred minutes.
Nikola Motors needs to be understood/categorized as a start-up in the process of implementing its business plan. The construction of its factory in Coolidge, Arizona is underway, and the first battery–electric trucks (BEV trucks) are already with customers. This year should see 300 to 500 of these, along with sufficient capacity for 2,400, which should reach 20,000 by 2023. In Ulm, Baden-Württemberg, the number of units produced by partner Iveco is to increase from 2,000 to 10,000.
Hyzon Motors, a manufacturer of hydrogen-powered commercial vehicles founded in Singapore (IPO via special-purpose acquisition company, SPAC, in New York), saw its the share price crash after a hedge fund named Blue Orca (a short seller?) leveled various accusations, including that an order for 20 Hyzon trucks did not come from the named customer, Hiringa Energy, but from someone completely different. Moreover, it also prompted questions about an agreement (memorandum of understanding) concerning 400 trucks for a Chinese customer. Law firms simultaneously added a string of class action lawsuits whose aim and purpose is unclear to me, though. Did someone want to initiate a lower IPO price or make stock prices tumble by short selling?
The daily price fluctuations of the shares in the hydrogen and fuel cell sector discussed here – primarily those from the USA and Canada – give an indication that very different interests determine events here: Thus, on many days in July 2021, there was a concurrence of price declines with almost identical percentage losses in the prices of all these shares with manageable trading volumes at the same time. In other words: The buy side held back and the forces betting on falling prices had the upper hand. However, no selling pressure could be detected, which is reflected in the amount of shares traded.
With US$ 5 billion in the bank, Plug can position itself perfectly in the hydrogen and fuel cell theme complex. This includes its own H2 production as well as the development of alliances, such as the most recent one with Renault. And it is advisable – in my opinion – to reduce the one-sided focus on the market for forklift trucks (material handling), since the major manufacturers such as Toyota and Kion are pursuing their own hydrogen strategy in the future and the devices of future generations will already have a fuel cell system included, so that the conversion or expansion of a battery is not necessary.
It seems like Nikola Motors [Nasdaq: NKLA] was able to stop the bleeding of the past few months. The stock is rising again. Up to 30 million shares are now traded each day, a comparatively high volume for the company. The new-found optimism among investors seems to stem from reports about Nikola’s recent progress in meeting its targets. Construction of the Arizona factory is well underway. Then there are new production facilities being built in Ulm, Germany. And another boost for the stock came when competitor Daimler Truck announced its intention to have 5,000 hydrogen-fueled heavy-duty vehicles on the road over the next few years, with business partner Shell providing the fueling infrastructure. Sounds a lot like Nikola’s business model, the difference being that Nikola will produce its own hydrogen, and be able to keep the revenue, instead of outsourcing the task to another company.
There are two sides to every story. And that’s very much the case with the planned cooperation with General Motors, GM, and the cancellation of 2,500 battery electric refuse trucks for Republic Services which turned out to be rather fortuitous in retrospect. In the GM scenario, Nikola would itself have had to spend over USD 700 million on tools, among other things. The participation of GM with USD 2 billion as a “valuable consideration” would have resulted in a dilution of the number of issued stocks.