Market Overview

Startup Loop Energy Gets Cash Infusion From Engine-Maker Cummins

Startup Loop Energy Gets Cash Infusion From Engine-Maker Cummins

Fuel-cell startup Loop Energy is getting a cash infusion from Cummins Inc. (NYSE: CMI), marking the engine maker's second investment in hydrogen fuel-cell technology this month. 

Neither Burnaby, British Columbia-based Loop nor Columbus, Indiana-based Cummins would disclose the amount of the investment. Loop President and CEO Ben Nyland told FreightWaves the amount is not financially material to Cummins, but is "substantial and meaningful" to Loop.

Loop, which is in its first revenue-generating quarter after 15 years in fuel-cell research under the name PowerDisc Development, considers the investment a single-source Series A fundraising round. Cummins received an undisclosed equity stake, a Loop spokeswoman said.

"We think Cummins is the best strategic partner we could have globally," Nyland said in an interview.

Cummins' investment in Loop is independent of its Sept. 9 completion of a $290 million purchase of another Canadian fuel-cell and hydrogen-production technology player, Mississauga, Ontario-based Hydrogenics Corp. Cummins bought 81% of Hydrogenics. 

Range extender

Loop will supply Cummins with its 30-kilowatt (kW) and 50-kW FC-REX range-extender systems for use in Class 6-8 demonstration trucks. The company claims its eFlow technology uses 30% less platinum and high-grade carbon composites than competing systems.

Loop will supply Cummins Inc. with its 30-kilowatt (kW) and 50-kW FC-REX range-extender systems for use in Class 6-8 demonstration trucks. Photo: Loop Energy

This helps address total cost of ownership, which drives trucking company purchasing decisions. A zero-emissions, power-dense fuel-cell-powered electric system costs significantly more upfront than a diesel engine but less over the long run.

"We have been focused on ways to find and preserve the cost advantage," Nyland said.

Demonstration projects

Loop has several demonstration programs underway. One involves retrofitting two Class 8 Peterbilt 579 long-haul trucks with fuel-cell/battery-electric drive system integrator TransPower. Those trucks will haul up to 80,000 pounds of freight throughout the San Diego and Los Angeles regions later this year.  

Another program involves three delivery trucks from an unnamed manufacturer expected to be on the road by the end of the year.

"We have run test track demonstrations that perform in the field the same as in the lab," Nyland said.

China and Europe lead

China and Europe exhibit more interest in zero-emission vehicles than North America, where only Nikola Corp. has plans for long-haul trucks powered by hydrogen fuel cells. A recent $250 million investment in Nikola came from CNH Industrial. British-based CNHI took a 7.7% equity stake. 

"It's interesting that Nikola's major investment came out of Europe," Nyland noted.

Fuel-cell growth in China eclipses any region. "They have made the market in that space," Nyland said. "Because of central government control, China is doing the same thing with fuel cells they have done with other technologies such as semiconductors, wind energy, solar cells and batteries."

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