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FreightWaves Truck Talk: A ‘SPAC-tacular’ new year

Electric delivery van maker Change has disappeared after apparently running out of money to fulfill orders for Ryder System and FedEx that were announced in 2018. (Photo: Chanje)

Welcome to FreightWaves Truck Talk, a weekly newsletter adding perspective, context and commentary to industry news and trends. 

The SPAC train keeps on rolling. Odeon Capital is keeping track of the growing hunting party of special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs). It counts 149 suitors seeking business combination targets. Odeon Capital analyst Alex Arnold puts the collective bankroll of blank checks at $57 billion. SPAC Insider lists 248 SPACs filed in 2020. In the first week of the year, Another 14 opened shop with $3.1 billion to invest. Automotive expert-backed QELL Acquisition Corp. is among those seeking a mobility startup. It is mum on its progress. Electric vehicles, component makers and infrastructure suppliers dominated the SPAC space in 2020, beginning with Nikola, the poster child for volatility with short sellers still dunking the electric truck startup in cold water. (See more on Nikola and water below.) Nikola Chairman Steve Girsky tells me that when shares purchased in PIPEs (private investment in public equity) are registered, the infusion of liquidity drives wild trading. With Nikola racing to $80 a share this summer and falling to the mid-teens, he oughta know. But Girsky is undeterred and going back for seconds with the launch of VectoIQ II, a $300 million SPAC looking for another mobility company with which to merge. The two-year clock started on the hunt Thursday.

Diversity actions at Cummins and Freightliner — Women-and-minority-owned Rudd Resources will work with the Columbus, Indiana, engine maker Cummins Inc. to plan and implement a communications strategy for diversity, equity and inclusion. More specifically, the agency will support the rollout of Cummins Advocating for Racial Equality (CARE) focusing on systemic racism, police reform, broader criminal justice reform, social justice and economic empowerment. … The Freightliner unit of Daimler Trucks North America is renewing its gold-level partnership with the Women in Trucking Association. The goal is to attract more women to trucking careers. The number of women in the industry is rising, up 68% since 2010, according to the American Trucking Associations. But women still hold fewer than one in 10 truck-driving jobs.

Irrigating manufacturing — The question of where Nikola would get water for its new plant in the Arizona desert is resolved. Water resource management company Global Water Resources Inc. signed a master agreement to provide water and wastewater services to Nikola’s new manufacturing plant in Coolidge. Like many issues with Nikola, this became fodder for Nikola trolls who suggested the company’s plant was doomed because it did not have a water source. Nikola manufacturing lead Mark Duchesne knocked that down in October, telling me that between site wells and negotiations with Global Water, the plant would be fine. One more Nikola item worth watching: Reuters reported Wednesday that CNH Industrial, the parent of Iveco, is in talks with China’s FAW about selling Iveco, which is Nikola’s manufacturing partner in Ulm, Germany, where the battery-electric Nikola Tre is in prototype build.

This and that — Tier 1 supplier Meritor is offering two new permanently lubricated drivelines for Class 6-7 medium-duty trucks. No lubricating. No service needs. At least that’s the plan. … Mack Trucks dealer Kriete Truck Centers already had a dominant dealer footprint in Wisconsin. Now it has added its ninth and 10th stores, in Stevens Point and Tomahawk, purchases from Scaffidi Truck Centers. Kriete is a third-generation dealer group, founded in 1951 by Henry Kriete, a vice president at Mack Trucks Inc. in the 1930s and 1940s. … Love’s Travel Stops is offering around-the-clock tire, lube and light maintenance at seven new Speedco locations in four states. That brings to more than 400 the number of locations where drivers can take care of the basics. Including its 2019 arrangement with Navistar, Love’s has more than 1,500 maintenance bays and claims the most comprehensive roadside coverage in the country. … American Trailer Rental Group has completed its acquisition of Arizona Storage Rental, its fifth buyout since Milton Street Capital created the group in 2017. Its 13 rental locations now have 16,000 trailers.  

Bits and piecesDecisiv is collaborating with Navistar to make its service relationship management software available to 30,000 International Truck and IC Bus fleets. It integrates with the International 360 service communications platform. … Navistar’s new HX model will offer Haulmaax EX heavy-duty rubber suspension from Hendrickson Truck Commercial Vehicle Systems as a part of an enhanced chassis. The HX is the first of the truck maker’s Project Compass models to share a basic cab with its LT model

Final thought — We’ll write and opine about commercial vehicle electrification in this space. One company we won’t say much about after today is Chanje (pronounced Change). The Los Angeles startup with Chinese manufacturing roots has disappeared. It announced a deal in 2018 with FedEx and Ryder System for 1,000 electric delivery vans. Change’s website and LinkedIn pages, including that of founder Bryan Hansel, still exist. But the inability to attract a SPAC investor apparently spelled the end.  

Thanks for reading FreightWaves Truck Talk. See you next week. 

Alan Adler


  1. J. DWYER

    Some great info here – Thanks Alan.

    Lazy journalism on the Chanje stuff. Their social media accounts are very active and they even appear to be hiring. Easy searches to run. Maybe these spacs just aren’t for everyone?

    1. Alan Adler

      No Change site updates in 11 months. Lazy journalism is reporting a 2018 press release as evidence of a viable company. How many of the 1,000 vans have been delivered? SPAC or no SPAC’, it is expensive to even import Chinese product and finish it here.

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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.