September 18th, 2023 | 08:00 CEST
Automotive stocks surging - Nikola, First Hydrogen, Volkswagen AG
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"[...] We are committed to stay as the number one Canadian and global leader in the Hydrogen-On-Demand diesel technology [...]" Jim Payne, CEO, dynaCERT Inc.
Nikola continues its roller coaster ride
Since hitting its lowest point on June 6, 2023, at USD 0.56, Nikola investors may have felt dizzy due to its high volatility. Initially, the stock, once considered a rival to Tesla, surged by a whopping 612% to USD 3.71, only to collapse to USD 0.82 over the following 4 weeks for the manufacturer of hybrid trucks. However, the latest news-driven momentum saw it heading back north with nearly a 63% increase within two trading days.
The reason for the week's USD 1.19 surge was the announcement that Nikola plans to start selling its hydrogen fuel cell trucks at the end of the month. The main investor concern in recent weeks has been the communicated withdrawal of more than 200 battery-powered trucks, prompted by a coolant problem in the core of a battery that is believed to have led to a vehicle fire in June. Steve Girsky, who took over the leadership of Nikola in early August, emphasized that the Company's team is working tirelessly to source matching components from their partners. "Any correction made will undergo intensive reviews before being released. Details on timeframes and financial implications will be shared soon. Our primary commitment is to ensure the safety and satisfaction of our clientele," Girsky explained.
Regarding production and delivery challenges, the CEO noted that while deliveries of the battery electric trucks were paused, he stressed to shareholders that this was irrelevant for the hydrogen fuel cell trucks, which use an alternative battery unit from another supplier. Production of these vehicles began in late July, with the first deliveries to distribution partners scheduled for late September and early October. The official presentation is scheduled for September 28. Girsky believes these deliveries will give Nikola a considerable advantage over its competitors of at least two years.
First Hydrogen - Test drives inspire
Continuing a news flow that has been consistently positive for months, the developer of hydrogen fuel cell-powered light-duty commercial vehicles was also able to deliver. After achieving a best-in-class range of 630 km on a single refueling in real-world driving weeks ago, First Hydrogen received its results report from its first test partner, Rivus, a fleet management provider responsible for managing over 120,000 light commercial vehicles and trucks annually. The report was published under the title "First Hydrogen LCV Trial".
Rivus highlighted that the vehicle performed very well during testing and appeared much more robust than a BEV, considering the extent to which vehicle efficiency was affected by different loading factors. The refueling process takes between 5 and 7 minutes, comparable to a fossil fuel vehicle, while Stromers must spend hours at the energy pumps. Rivus covered around 6,000 km on various terrains both inside and outside the city. The consensus fuel consumption of the LCV was analyzed to be below 2 kg/100 km and even below 1.5 kg/100 km in urban traffic. The range was estimated at well over 500 km.
With the second test company, SSE, still in the testing phase as part of the Aggregated Hydrogen Freight Consortium (AHFC), in which a total of 16 partners are putting First Hydrogen's prototypes through their paces, the Canadians are looking to open up the fleet trials to further commercial opportunities due to growing interest. There is brisk demand for "light commercial vehicles," especially from parcel delivery companies looking to use First Hydrogen's hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicle for express deliveries. To date, First Hydrogen's focus has been primarily on industry participants such as utilities that require zero-emission vehicles capable of traveling longer distances and carrying heavier payloads.
Despite the successes surrounding its latest generation vehicles, First Hydrogen's stock has lost about 60% of its value since the beginning of the year due to weakness in the hydrogen sector. However, if testing continues to be positive and commercialization approaches, the current consolidation should provide a good long-term entry opportunity.
Volkswagen AG - Class action lawsuit dismissed
Volkswagen AG, based in Wolfsburg, has continued its positive trend since hitting its yearly low on September 8. The stock has risen by nearly 6% since then, reaching EUR 109.80. One of the reasons for the continued positive sentiment was the fact that Swiss owners of Volkswagen diesel vehicles suffered a setback in the emissions scandal.
The collective action filed by 2000 owners in Germany based on the manipulated engines was dismissed. The consumer protection association from western Switzerland, Fédération Romande des Consommateurs (FRC), commented Saturday evening on a report by French-language broadcaster RTS. According to FRC, the plaintiffs had hoped for reparations in the range of EUR 1600 to 5000.
On the other hand, the shortage of parts, which is due to a lack of engine parts from Slovenia due to the current flood, had a negative effect. As a result, Volkswagen must also adjust production at its main plant in Wolfsburg. "Starting Monday, September 11, isolated shifts will be cancelled at the Wolfsburg plant," a company spokesman said. Production has also been scaled back in Emden and Osnabrück. The Portuguese plant in Palmela near Lisbon had even announced that it would completely halt assembly for up to two months starting this Monday. Purchasing director Dirk Große-Loheide said the bottleneck should be resolved relatively quickly. Thus, a plan should be presented at the end of the current month. "By the end of the year, the issue will be over," the manager said.
Nikola continues to ride a roller coaster. First Hydrogen could report further positive developments. Wolfsburg-based Volkswagen AG scored a success based on a class action lawsuit in Switzerland.
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