This week, several electric truck makers are guiding the grant-writing process to help customers afford battery-powered trucks; Nikola is fully in growth mode as the shadow of scandal lifts; a Lordstown Motors’ financial scorecard; and Daimler seals the deal to create a stand-alone truck company.
Taking help for grant-ed
The transition to heavy- and medium-duty electric vehicles is being helped along by generous grants to offset the high upfront cost of buying, or more often, leasing the zero-tailpipe-emissions vehicles. Some truck manufacturers eager to juice sales are helping customers apply for the grants.
“It’s anything from helping identify the grants on a federal or state level to helping execute the grants,” Jason Gies, Navistar vice president of eMobility business development, said at the recent Advanced Clean Transportation Expo.
“We’ve got a team in place that will work with our dealers or our end customers that will literally write the grants and help walk them through the process.”
Navistar is not alone.
Kenworth, which along with Paccar sibling Peterbilt, was the first to make electric versions of its T680e and T270e models available, is all in on the hand-holding approach. Alec Cervenka, whose title is EV grant and technical adviser, moderated a panel at the Move America mobility conference in Austin, Texas, this week.
Peterbilt also plays in the grant-writing space, a spokesman said. A year ago, Peterbilt issued a press release saying its Model 220EV was eligible for a $95,000 grant from the California HVIP program, which uses money from pollution fines to help offset the cost of electric vehicles — effectively transferring money from one pocket to another.
“Some of them are very simple,” Gies said. “HVIP, that’s a huge one here in California. Very simple process, but we’re all learning. So, we want to make sure we’re successful, everything’s spelled out properly.”
Daimler Trucks North America has an in-house person to oversee and a contract group specializing in offering grant-writing assistance.
A notable exception is Volvo Trucks North America, which has sold its Class 8 VNR Electric in New York and Texas as well as California. A spokesperson said it advises customers to first consult their dealers, many of whom have grant-writing expertise.
“If their dealer cannot assist, we can recommend an outside consulting firm that specializes in environmental grant writing,” the spokesperson said. Sibling Mack Trucks, which so far is selling an electric version of its LR model as a refuse truck, did not respond to an inquiry.
3 Questions with Nikola Chief Financial Officer Kim Brady
Electric truck maker Nikola Corp. continues to be cited as an example of what can go wrong after a SPAC merger. But the cloud is lifting over the Phoenix-based startup. As production begins of its battery-electric Class 8 daycab this quarter, Nikola is cutting deals for the future, growing its headcount while closely watching its finances.
This week’s second equity line of credit (ELOC) with Tumim Capital will provide enough green to keep the environmentally focused truck maker on task through 2022. The company currently has $500 million in cash. Chief Financial Officer Kim Brady told me that will decline to around $200 million by the end of the year. But Nikola can tap the remaining $553 million in its ELOCs as needed.
Nikola (NASDAQ: NKLA) on Thursday announced another infrastructure partnership aimed at having hydrogen fueling availability when its fuel cell-powered trucks arrive in 2023.
Brady responded to a few other inquiries.
FREIGHTWAVES: With your stock price not where a big stock offering makes financial sense, are you engaged in cost cutting or layoffs?
BRADY: “We are continuing to increase our headcount. I think we are close to 800 and anticipate being around 1,000 by the end of this year. We have not slowed down any of our programs for Tre BEV or fuel cell development. We’ll always want to be careful about how we allocate capital, but we are not in a cost-cutting mode. We are very much in a development and growth mode.”
FREIGHTWAVES: Is the impact of the semiconductor shortage and other supply chain constraints in some ways allowing you some breathing room?
BRADY: “In some sense that has made our supply chain issues acute and complex and more challenging because we’ve got to manage through that. I think we have been more transparent than some of our competitors. We are trying to navigate so that we have a certain supply [of battery cells and integrated circuits] locked in so that when we communicate our guidance for 2022 we have conviction.”
FREIGHTWAVES: Does Nikola expect to book any revenue in the fourth quarter from the 25-50 pre-series Tre models being placed with customers?
BRADY: “We will be working with each customer and will decide case by case at what point, even though they may not be salable, we may change a lease rate. We’re still working through that. While they may not be salable, we still may be able to generate some revenue.”
Lordstown Motors’ financial scorecard
If the big deal to sell the Lordstown Motors Corp. plant to Taiwan’s Foxconn Group goes through, LMC would effectively become a tenant of the massive complex it received from General Motors at practically no out-of-pocket cost. LMC would add $230 million to its balance sheet and another $50 million from a private sale of shares to Foxconn.
But before the potential lifeline is a sure thing, LMC (NASDAQ: RIDE) provided an update on its presale finances on Thursday. The numbers show why the company has not withdrawn a notice of going concern, suggesting it could be out of business within a year without new funding. It filed the notice in June with the Securities and Exchange Commission and reiterated it in July.
LMC’s cash balance at the end of Q3 on Thursday was between $210 million and $240 million, including $20 million from issuing stock in a three-year $400 million ELOC that went into effect in July. That’s down from $225 million to $275 million. Higher legal and professional fees — remember, LMC is under Justice Department and SEC investigation — drove sales, general and administrative expense up by $10 million to $15 million. Capital expenditures were flat at $375 million to $400 million. Research and development spending is $10 million to $20 million higher.
Daimler’s done deal
Daimler AG shareholders on Friday approved the split-off of Daimler Trucks, which will make it a stand-alone company with its own listing on the German stock exchange by the end of the year. The move was expected following the August approval of the Board of Management and Supervisory Board of Daimler AG.
Daimler shareholders will get one additional share in Daimler Truck Holding AG for every two shares they hold in Daimler AG (OTC: DDAIF).
Daimler Truck Holding AG will be the world market leader in commercial truck manufacturing and sales, employing approximately 100,000 people at more than 35 main locations.
The truck business comprises the brands Mercedes-Benz, Freightliner, Western Star, FUSO and BharatBenz. Daimler Buses accounts for more than 17,000 employees for the Mercedes-Benz, Setra, Thomas Built Buses and FUSO brands.
Daimler AG will be renamed Mercedes-Benz Group AG effective next Feb. 1 with a focus on the car and van brands Mercedes-Benz, Mercedes-AMG, Mercedes-Maybach and Mercedes-EQ.
That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading. Subscribe here to receive Truck Talk in your email on Fridays.