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Agility preorders 1,000 Hyliion hybrid-electric trucks

Logistics giant investing in shell company awaiting reverse merger OK

Hyliion received a preorder for 1,000 hybrid natural gas-electric trucks from logistics company Agility. (Photo: Hyliion)

Traveling an accelerated path to public trading, Hyliion Inc. introduced its Class 8 hybrid Hypertruck Electric Range Extender (ERX) with a 1,000-unit preorder from logistics giant Agility, which is also investing in the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) bringing the 5-year-old startup to market.

Hyliion claims the fully electric drivetrain and natural gas-powered onboard generator will provide more than 1,000 miles of range. The powertrain produces electricity for about 30% lower cost than electricity from the grid, which could be a selling point to fleets. Fuel is the second-highest operating cost for a commercial truck after driver pay and benefits.

Hyliion claims its seven-year cost of ownership is unmatched by any diesel, battery-electric or hydrogen fuel-cell electric truck.

Four companies plan to begin selling Class 8 battery-electric trucks in 2021: the Freightliner eCascadia, the Volvo electric VNR, the Tesla Semi and the Nikola Tre in Europe. Chinese Class 8 electric truck maker BYD is conducting a test with Anheuser-Busch in California.

Zero emissions zones

“Our practical solution addresses the most important needs of today’s fleets: cost savings, lower emissions and a fueling infrastructure that can support long-haul transportation,” said Thomas Healy, Hyliion’s CEO and founder.

Hyliion points to an existing 700-station natural gas fueling infrastructure in the U.S. as a viability proof point. Dana Inc. (NYSE: DAN) will make the ERX electric motor, inverter and axle technologies. Demonstration units are planned for 2021 and regular production for 2022.

The ERX’s 25 miles of pure electric range is useful in cities that are adopting zero-emissions zones to reduce urban pollution. The ERX system’s machine-learning algorithm makes the most of energy efficiency, performance and predictive maintenance schedules while reducing emissions.

When using renewable natural gas (RNG), Hyliion claims the ERX can achieve a net-negative greenhouse gas emissions footprint,

“The Hyliion technology is so game-changing that all companies, especially those with consumer-facing brands, will be forced to adapt,” said Tarek Sultan, Agility vice chairman and CEO. “It’s a triple win: Protect the environment, keep customers happy and benefit shareholders by improving the bottom line.”

Agility, with annual revenues of $5.2 billion and offices in 100 countries, is investing in Tortoise Acquisition Corp. (NYSE: SHLL), the “blank check company” planning a reverse merger with Hyliion that accelerates the startup’s path to public trading. The deal is awaiting approval from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Tortoise Acquisition shares closed up 7.34% Thursday at $17.40. Participants in a public investment in private equity (PIPE) invested $325 million based on a discounted price of $10 a share. The PIPE proceeds would go to Hyliion when the reverse merger closes.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

Alan Adler

Alan Adler is an award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.