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Motiv Power Systems secures $20M

Funds will help EV chassis maker scale production and advance new product development

ited States Postal Service USPS operates 7 Motiv-powered step vans in California’s Central Valley (Photo credit: Motiv)

Motiv Power Systems has secured $20 million from Crescent Cove Advisors, as the electric vehicle chassis maker builds on the success of its fifth-generation electrification technology to scale operations and manufacturing.

“We have record orders on the books and now have to ramp up production to fill those orders,” CEO Matt O’Leary told FreightWaves. “This is going to be a breakout year for us.”

Founded in 2009, Motiv builds all-electric chassis for trucks and buses. Its EPIC product line is available for multiple configurations, including step vans, box trucks, work trucks, shuttle buses, school buses, trolleys and specialty vehicles. 

Built on Ford platforms, such as the F-59, E-450 and F-53, the company provides EV technology for medium-duty fleets, with the final stage of the vehicle build performed by bus and truck OEMs.

Pilot projects go mainstream

Aiding Motiv’s growth are customers that had deployed its vehicles in pilot projects and now are graduating to full-fledged orders, said O’Leary, citing as an example Bimbo Bakeries USA, the nation’s largest bakery company, which started with five electric trucks and ordered 23 more, with 100 more expected to be deployed in 2021.

Motiv also is in the final stages of validation and about ready to launch its fifth-generation Ford E-450 chassis, a model that is particularly important for the San Francisco Bay area company’s school buses segment. 

Motiv has a partnership with Collins Bus Corp., a unit of REV Group Inc. (NYSE: REVG), the nation’s largest maker of Type A buses.

“Based on the success we had implementing the fifth generation on the F-59 chassis [in 2020]  we expect things to go even smoother this year,” O’Leary said.

Debt financing, SPACS and more

The latest funding, announced on Tuesday, follows a $15 million infusion in August from Motiv’s largest shareholder, GMAG Holdings Corp., in an agreement that had the latter offering cash in exchange for convertible notes.

As FreightWaves reported in December, Motiv is also talking to special purpose acquisition companies about a possible merger, following a long line of EV companies that have or are considering raising funds through a SPAC.

O’Leary declined to comment further but said the Crescent Cove funds will be used primarily to increase manufacturing capacity and advance new product development as the company continues on a path to scale production and work with larger fleets.

“It’s a debt round to facilitate some working capital so we can scale up operations as we complete our Series C funding,” O’Leary said.

Political lifts, pandemic challenges

O’Leary is expecting a “huge lift” from the Biden administration, especially now that the Democrats have secured a majority in the Senate. 

“Biden has been very clear on electrification, particularly on school buses,” O’Leary said.  “There was some question as to how impactful his administration would be, but now a lot of these things will be able to be pushed through quickly.”

Ongoing delays tied to the coronavirus pandemic continue to pose the biggest challenge, he said, as the virus “tends to interrupt the supply base on and off, and each time it’s a different type of issue.” 

O’Leary told FreightWaves last June that COVID slowed progress on opening an engineering center in the Detroit area.

Linda Baker, Senior Environment and Technology Reporter

Linda Baker is a FreightWaves senior reporter based in Portland, Oregon. Her beat includes autonomous vehicles, the startup scene, clean trucking, and emissions regulations. Please send tips and story ideas to [email protected].