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Hyliion picks Peterbilt as test chassis for Hypertruck ERX

Hydrogen fuel cells an eventual option to hybrid's natural gas generator

Hyliion is ordering Peterbilt trucks as the test chassis for its Hypertruck ERX natural gas-electric hybrid. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Hyliion Inc. initially will use Peterbilt chassis to test its Hypertruck ERX hybrid electric system. Natural gas is still the preferred fuel for the electric generator. But using hydrogen fuel cells will be an option when the technology and fuel are available.

The operating business of Hyliion Holdings (NYSE: HYLN) said in it Q4 earnings report that it met its goal of installing first-generation hybrid systems on 20 trucks last year. That included seven in the fourth quarter.

“We are delivering proven, cost-effective and eco-friendly solutions that we anticipate will electrify and revolutionize the commercial transportation industry,” Hyliion CEO Thomas Healy said in a press release. 

After initially declaring it was “long on natural gas” as the fuel to run the electricity-making generator, Hyliion is making the system hydrogen fuel cell compatible.

“The company’s solutions are designed to capitalize on the advantages RNG [renewable natural gas] provides today, while being compatible with hydrogen fuel cells – well situating Hyliion to leverage hydrogen when the technology and infrastructure become available,” the press release said.

Losses grow as business expands

Hyliion went public in October via a business combination with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Tortoise Acquisition Corp. Hyliion reported no Q4 revenue. It lost $20.5 million, or 13 cents per share, compared to a pro forma loss of $4.1 million, or 7 cents, a year earlier. 

For the full year on a pro forma basis, Hyliion lost $39.2 million, or 38 cents per share, compared to a loss of $14.1 million or 16 cents in 2019. Proceeds from its business combination and the sale of stock warrants boosted total assets to $650.8 millions as of Dec. 31 versus $14.1 million a year ago.

“We enter 2021 with strong financial and operational resources and an established network of strategic partners,” Healy said. “The powertrain technologies we have already deployed, and those that we will bring to market, further differentiate Hyliion and reflect our unique competitive advantages.” 

2021 plans

Hyliion plans expanded commercialization and deployment of its next-generation hybrid powertrain this year. It contains smaller Toshiba batteries with up to five times the cycle life of a conventional EV battery. It can be recharged in under eight minutes and cools 40% faster than the current  battery.

The next-generation battery module incorporates a custom e-axle solution from partner Dana Inc. (NYSE: DAN) plus enhanced on-board data analytics capabilities.  

Demonstration units of the Hypertruck ERX will be placed with fleet operations by the end of the year. Healy did not disclose on a conference call with analysts how many Peterbilt trucks Hyliion  has ordered or what model.

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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.