September 21, 2023


Super Technology

ArcLight grows green investments beyond SPACs


Don’t tell ArcLight Capital Partners that clean energy transport companies are out of favor. The SPAC sponsor of electric bus and charging infrastructure developer Proterra is investing $50 million in electric trucks as a service near Los Angeles International Airport while preparing for a shareholder vote next week on taking renewable natural gas developer Opal Fuels public.

Investing after SPACs

With one SPAC complete and another up for shareholder vote next week, ArcLight Capital Partners is taking another swing at electrification. It is putting $50 million into an electric fleet-as-a-service operation just outside Los Angeles International Airport.

Zeem Solutions provides customers with battery-electric trucks, vans and shuttle buses for a flat monthly fee. It claims it can write a lease, charge, maintain and insure a fleet for less than it costs to own and operate a gas or diesel fleet.

White electric vans at a Zeem Solutions depot
Zeem Solutions gets a $50 million investment from ArcLight Capital. (Photo: Zeem Solutions)

ArcLight describes itself as an infrastructure and energy investor. So putting money behind a charging-and-more facility is in its sweet spot. Zeem’s business model charges an all-in price for fleet operators, EV trucks, cargo vans and transit shuttles to use ultra-fast chargers, park and chill in a driver’s lounge.

Scaling depots

As part of the funding announcement, Zeem said it formed a strategic partnership with LAZ Parking Realty Investors (LPRI). It is part of LAZ Parking, the nation’s largest privately owned parking operator with more than 3,500 managed locations in 39 states. LPRI will scout commercial real estate sites to help Zeem grow its charging and service depots.

Jake Erhard, ArcLight partner and head of environment, social and corporate governance, said ArcLight likes the idea of leveraging its existing investments. That could include chargers from Proterra Energy. Working with a big real estate operator like LAZ is also attractive.

Row of green, yellow and white Proterra Energy chargers
Could Proterra Energy chargers fit with Zeem’s electric depot plans? (Photo: Proterra)

ArcLight’s direct investment is something another truck-as-a-service startup, WattEV, could use. So far, it is depending on public grants and seed round funding from family and friends. The Zeem business focuses on smaller vehicles carrying people and goods. WattEV focuses on a Pony Express-style fast-charging relay system for Class 8 electric trucks.

Both approaches address installed charging capacity critical to advance commercial electric vehicles.

ArcLight’s SPACs

Operating as a special purpose acquisition company, ArcLight Clean Transition Corp., ArcLight brought electric bus, charging and infrastructure developer Proterra Inc. public in June 2021. Proterra collected $640 million in SPAC proceeds before expenses.

Proterra (NASDAQ: PTRA), founded in 2004, generates top-line results. Yet it is lumped with pre-revenue startups that went public via SPAC. Its shares trade near 52-week lows in a chillier climate for shell company mergers orchestrated by blank-check firms. 

Next Thursday, shareholders in ArcLight’s second SPAC (NASDAQ: ACTD) will count votes on a $1.75 billion business combination with renewable natural gas (RNG) producer and distributor Opal Fuels. 

Per-merger redemptions reduce how much cash a target company gets when the business combination closes. ArcLight cut a deal with 89% of investors in a cash-raising private investment in public equity to wait 60 days before redeeming the shares. That would at least temporarily preserve the $536 million Opal would get when the business combination closes.

Opal focuses on the heavy-duty truck market. It signed a memorandum of understanding with Nikola in September to develop, construct and operate hydrogen fuel stations that use Opal RNG.

Dual challenges

Separately, Nikola’s SPAC sponsor, VectoIQ Acquisition Corp. II, is watching the clock run down on picking a target for its second blank-check fund, which raised $345 million in January 2021. SPACs typically have two years to pick a merger target or they have to refund investors. 

Nikola, meanwhile, is pleading for the voting of 2% more of outstanding shares it needs to increase the number of authorized shares in the company, a lifeline to future fundraising. The electric truck manufacturer has issued a dozen press releases on the subject since adjourning its annual meeting on June 1 and June 30. The next — and presumably final count — is July 18.

Briefly noted …

Electric charging Euro style

A $507 million European electric truck charging joint venture backed by Volvo Group, Daimler Truck and the Traton Group on Friday appointed Anja van Niersen as CEO. The collaboration announced last July plans to install and operate at least 1,700 high-performance green energy charge points on and close to highways and at logistics hubs across Europe. Next up is naming the JV, which is expected later this year.

Are hydrogen-powered engines the new thing?

Using hydrogen as a fuel in an internal combustion engine could be gaining popularity. As previously reported, Cummins Inc. plans to make them available in 2027. Now, five Japanese auto companies — Toyota, Isuzu, Hino, Denso and Commercial Japan Partnership Technologies Corp. — see potential for hydrogen ICE as a path to zero emissions.

Hybrids, battery-electric and hydrogen-powered fuel cells still get most of the attention toward the greening of heavy-duty transportation. 

For now, it is just a study. But these are big names capable of making it happen.

Red display model of a Cummins hydrogen-powered internal combustion engine
Cummins plans to make a hydrogen-powered internal combustion engine. (Photo: Alan Adler/FreightWaves)

Best truck stops 

In the world of lists, why shouldn’t truck stops get rated? Turns out they are.

Hale Trailer used a methodology of five-star ratings across four categories to come up with its ranking. Average review data from online sources Yelp, Google and Tripadvisor populated one category. 

A national monument vicinity score pulled from Google Maps identified how many national parks and monuments could be found in a 20-mile radius.

A food offering score consisted of available consumables — from junk food to shelf-stable snacks and drinks to full-service independent restaurants.

An amenity offering score awarded one point for having public restrooms to five points for everything from a laundromat to a movie theater to an attached hotel.

And a truck stop could earn one more point for a unique attraction.

Here is the ranking:

  1. Iowa 80, Walcott, Iowa.
  2. Kenly 95 Petro, Kenly, North Carolina.
  3. Flynn’s Truck Plaza, Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.
  4. Busy Bee Travel Center, Live Oak, Florida.
  5. Big Horn Travel Center, Fort Worth, Texas.
  6. Keystone Restaurant & Truck Stop, Loretto, Pennsylvania.
  7. Jubitz Travel Center, Portland, Oregon.
  8. I-40 Travel Center, Ozark, Arkansas.
  9. South of the Border, Hamer, South Carolina.
  10. Dysart’s Truck Stop, Hermon, Maine.
  11. Beckley/Tamarack Travel Plaza, Beckley, West Virginia.
  12. Little America Travel Center, Little America, Wyoming.
  13. Chesapeake House Travel Plaza, Cecil County, Maryland.
  14. 301 Travel Center, Middletown, Delaware.
  15. Noble’s Restaurant and Truck Stop, Corinth, Kentucky.
Exterior shot of the I-80 truck stop in Walcott, Iowa.
And the winner is … the Iowa 80 truck stop in Walcott, Iowa. 

That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading. Click here to get Truck Tech via email on Fridays.



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