Smart Energy Finances: BEV fires shoot down Nikola shares

Smart Energy Finances: BEV fires shoot down Nikola shares
Image courtesy Nikola Motors

This week’s Smart Energy Finances looks at Nikola Motors’ plummeting shares after recalling 209 EVs due to battery fires.

Also on the radar is significant growth from Chameleon Technologies, which announced their 10 millionth smart meter IHD as well as Greenbird’s acquisition by energy giant GE Vernova.

Nikola Motors shares on the fall

Nikola Motors, an Arizona-headquartered electric truck maker, has voluntarily recalled 209 battery electric vehicles (BEVs) after reporting a coolant leak as the cause of an EV truck fire at their headquarters earlier this year.

A temporary hold has been placed on Nikola’s BEV sales.

“The safety of customers, dealers and team members are Nikola’s top priority,” stated the company in a press release last Friday as days later the company’s stock plummeted.

According to Bloomberg reportage, the company’s shares fell by up to 20% at the start of the week, a trend signalling another nail to the coffin after the company’s shares were recorded as falling 98% from their peak reached in June 2020.

Internal investigations from Nikola’s safety and engineering teams indicated a single supplier component within the battery pack as the likely source of the coolant leak.

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“At Nikola we take safety very seriously,” said Steve Girsky, Nikola’s CEO. “We stated from the beginning that as soon as our investigations were concluded we would provide an update, and we will continue our transparency as we learn more.”

The company’s initial statement on the fire in June alluded to foul play as a possible cause, although a review has since suggested foul play or other external factors were unlikely.

Although the Class 8 Tre BEV’s have been recalled, the company has stated that their hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), which are currently in production, will not be affected as they make use of a different battery design.

According to the company’s Q2 2023 report, 18 customers placed orders to Nikola and dealers for over 200 hydrogen FCEVs.

Nikola Corporation designs and manufactures heavy-duty BEVs, FCEVs and energy infrastructure solutions, such as energy storage systems and hydrogen charging station infrastructure, through its brand HYLA, which was launched in January this year to oversee the company’s energy products for producing, distributing and dispensing hydrogen.

The BEV case follows the company naming a fourth CEO after Michael Lohscheller stepped down earlier this month due to family concerns, leading to the company losing more than a quarter of its market value, states Reuters. Lohscheller was replaced by former General Motors executive Stephen Girsky.

Nikola has flagged “substantial doubts” about its ability to continue as a going concern for the next year, reiterating its warning for the third time since February, as it awaits “critical” additional capital.

The news from Nikola also comes as concerns rise over fires caused by EV batteries.

Research released in February this year, Full-scale fire testing of battery electric vehicles, finds that although the characteristics of BEV fires are similar to those of traditional passenger vehicles, jet flames caused by thermal runaway – a result of exponential increases in heat within the battery cell – “accelerates the fire spread to other combustibles of BEVs”.

Thus, states the researchers, thermal runaway and reignition mark major risks to first responders.

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GE Vernova acquires Greenbird

Energy major GE Vernova’s digital business has acquired Greenbird Integration Technology AS, a data integration platform company focused on utilities.

The acquisition comes 10 years after Greenbird’s launch; the company’s platform will accelerate GridOS, which the company calls “the world’s first software portfolio designed specifically for grid orchestration, adding new capabilities for connecting systems and integrating data across the grid more easily and at scale”.

The financial terms of the acquisition are not being disclosed.

The Greenbird acquisition is hoped to expand the capabilities of GE Vernova’s data fabric, eliminating data silos to make it faster and easier to connect and aggregate energy data, reducing the time and expense of data integration projects.

Responding to Smart Energy International was Frederik ten Sythoff, Greenbird VP of communication and marketing, who commented on the company’s outlook after the successful acquisition:

“As a company, we are proud that we have contributed with our thought leadership to highlight the importance for utilities to move into a data-driven future and with our technology to simplify this transition for them.

“We see the challenges in the industry are getting bigger and bigger. We need a much bigger focus and bigger solutions to make an impact. We’re using data to accelerate the industry and world to sustainable energy.

“GE Vernova has a legacy and proven track record to address these unique challenges we are facing in the energy sector. The acquisition is a strong signal and commitment to utilities, partners, and the industry of the strength of GridOS and the important role it’ll play in accelerating a more sustainable energy grid.”

Read more

Chameleon Tech’s 10 millionth IHD and significant growth

UK-based smart energy technology business Chameleon Technology has announced the manufacturing and delivery of its 10 millionth in-home display (IHD), a record they state for the industry, enabling insights into energy consumption for consumers through “visible, transparent, real-time data” they state in a release.

The IHDs connect to energy providers’ smart meters to help consumers track their energy use and costs. By the end of the UK smart meter rollout, two in every three homes are projected to have a Chameleon Technology IHD, according to the company.

The announcement of the milestone was followed by the opening of new offices for the clean tech company in the UK, after being awarded over £3.6 million ($4.6 million) in government funding for additional projects, including the Green Home Finance Accelerator (GHFA).

Smart energy finances - Nikola shares plumment. Chameleon Technology grows.
Minister for energy efficiency and green finance at the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, Lord Callanan joins Chameleon Technology’s co-founder and CEO Mike Woodhall for a tour of the new office space. Image courtesy Chameleon Technology.

The GHFA aims to make available innovation funding for the development of green finance products which can enable the uptake of home energy efficiency, low carbon heating and micro-generation retrofit measures in the UK.

Through their award, Chameleon Technology’s HTC-UP project will aim to help domestic homeowners looking to improve their home’s energy efficiency, with initial support tailored to the needs of landlords.

The funding will be used to assess the viability of a “one-stop-shop for energy efficiency improvements” they state, from initial assessment to financing.

Heat Transfer Co-efficient (HTC) technology will be used to provide homeowners with an accurate measurement of a property’s energy efficiency rather than having to rely on the survey-based method used to produce current EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) ratings.

The HTC algorithm takes smart meter data and internal temperature readings, collected through the ivie Bud in-home display, and combines these with external temperature readings gained from third party weather data.

This combination of data is hoped to create a much more accurate measurement of how much heat is escaping the home, leading to a more precise carbon-efficiency score for the property.

What are your thoughts about the financial insecurities that come with investments in new technologies?

Let me know and make sure to follow Smart Energy Finances for the latest finance and investment news coming out of the energy sector.

Yusuf Latief
Content Producer
Smart Energy International

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