Seeking Alpha
View as an RSS Feed

John Petersen  

View John Petersen's Comments BY TICKER:

Latest  |  Highest rated
  • Axion Power Concentrator 406: October 25, 2015 [View instapost]
    I don't think this transaction was conceived until the other transaction fell apart. The original Gesang term sheet was a $10 million basket of equity, debt and license fees. If the original transaction had come together, the $9 million private placement would have been unnecessary.
    Nov 6, 2015. 06:56 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Axion Power Concentrator 406: October 25, 2015 [View instapost]
    Based on a quick and dirty review, it looks like a repeat of the 2013 PIPE with some of the same investors. GLTA.
    Nov 5, 2015. 08:27 PM | 7 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Axion Power Concentrator 405: September 26, 2015 [View instapost]
    Limited finances are a big part of our decision metrics, particularly when potential investors, customers and industry partners view our battery supplier as a risk factor. The more important issue for us is keeping FedEx engaged and convincing other potential customers and industry partners to join the party. We have their attention and support. The trick will be keeping it.

    Ultimately we need a battery supplier that's able to take an empty aluminum box from us and return a fully functional battery pack, complete with cooling systems and BMS. It's a tall order, but anything less would require us to become battery experts and that's not likely.
    Oct 24, 2015. 11:20 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Axion Power Concentrator 405: September 26, 2015 [View instapost]
    We bought two PbC strings in 2013, one for the white sleeper cab and a second for the green day cab. The string we damaged on the maiden FedEx trial was the more heavily used of the two. Since the redesigned battery boxes were too bulky for the available space on the day cab, we moved the good PbCs over to the white truck and started using the day cab as the test vehicle for our experimental NiMH systems.

    I have no clarity on the question of whether we've been testing the Gen2 or the Gen3 PbC, so it's possible that we'd get different results with new batteries. At this point, however, we're reluctant to spend another $20,000 to find out.
    Oct 24, 2015. 09:08 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Axion Power Concentrator 405: September 26, 2015 [View instapost]
    Freya> You're confusing proof of fuel economy with proof of on road reliability.

    Proving fuel economy is relatively easy and the work can be completed in a short timeframe.

    Proving on-road reliability requires a million miles of experience (or more) and that process takes longer.

    We already have enough hard fuel economy data at the vehicle weights specified in the EPAs proposed 2027 standards to be know that we're 20% over their target.

    Generating a million miles of on-road reliability data will probably take a couple years. I fully expect our on-road reliability to start out poor and improve over time. It's the nature of the beast.

    NBTF> I keep telling you that your information is both dated and inaccurate. You've also fallen victim to the same logical fallacies as Freya.

    Since neither of you has any kind of stake in ePower's future, I wish you'd refrain from commenting on issues you don't understand.
    Oct 24, 2015. 07:20 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Axion Power Concentrator 405: September 26, 2015 [View instapost]
    I have been talking openly in this forum about ePower for a long time. While our difficulties with the PbC are not necessarily material for ePower, they could be very material for Axion and the last thing a wise ePower stockholder needs or wants is material non-public information about a public company.

    We encountered a problem with battery heat during our maiden FedEx trial and we could not in good conscience talk openly about making the trip without discussing the battery problems. The steps we took to resolve the problem with improved ventilation helped, but they weren't enough. We now believe that the heat dissipation problem is inherent in a six-cell monoblock architecture and even with perfect heat transfer from the battery surface we'd still generate unacceptable heat in the battery's interior.

    Lowering our hauling capacity goals to try and retain a working relationship with a troubled battery supplier seems unwise. The Amazon fulfillment center was built in Florence to take advantage of the FedEx Ground hub in Florence. We're already working with the folks who haul that freight. While the vast majority of their loads are toward the light end of the scale, there are times when the loads are much heavier. A great example we recently encountered was "back to school" shipments of paper that pushed GVWs to within spitting distance of 80,000 pounds. Since trucking hardware has to be sized for the heaviest possible load, focusing on the average can lead to a wrong conclusion.

    ePower is not likely to be a big enough customer to solve Axion's woes for at least a couple years. Under the circumstances we think the wiser path is to find a battery alternative that meets our requirements instead of trying to "make do" with a device that may not be available.
    Oct 24, 2015. 06:59 AM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Axion Power Concentrator 405: September 26, 2015 [View instapost]
    Since the ePower drivetrain will be offered as an alternative to a conventional major overhaul, the economic decision will be based on the cost differential between the two choices. With fuel savings of 7,000 to 12,000 gallons per year, the ROIs look good at today's low fuel prices and extraordinary at historically normal prices.

    It's true that NiMH is more costly, but it's also expected to last twice as long, which makes the cost spread inconsequential over the 600,000 mile useful life of an overhaul.

    Ultimately the costs we currently pay for components are irrelevant because volume discounts on components should reduce out per unit COGS by $30,000 to $40,000.

    At the vehicle weights specified in the EPAs proposed 2027 fuel economy standards, we're 20% over goal. Nobody else even comes close because none of the "SuperTrucks" can handle the uphill grades the proposed regulations require. There's a reason they test those things on the lonesome prairie.
    Oct 23, 2015. 06:39 PM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Axion Power Concentrator 405: September 26, 2015 [View instapost]
    The last two years have focused on boosting our drivetrain's hauling capacity from the 50,000 pound range into the 80,000 pound range with performance that compares favorably with conventional trucks. While that work focused primarily on engine and transmission issues, the PbC was an important development tool.

    Today we have a drivetrain that beats the proposed 2027! EPA fuel efficiency standards by a comfortable margin but the battery we used during the drivetrain development phase doesn't seem to be up to the daily grind. We have a list of alternatives that look promising but long-term performance will be uncertain until we amass a critical body of independent on road data.

    We have no intention of modifying the drivetrain to suit a particular battery. If a battery manufacturer wants our business it will have to step up to the plate and meet our requirements. Anything less would be the tail wagging the dog.

    ePower is the principal developer of its drivetrain and potential suppliers who can't measure up will be culled. It's just good business.

    It's probably worth noting that I was an observer when it came to Axion but I'm management at ePower. I was predicting a most likely path when I wrote about Axion. I'm planning the path for ePower and responding directly to challenges when they arise.
    Oct 23, 2015. 03:21 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Axion Power Concentrator 405: September 26, 2015 [View instapost]
    Claiming "more than progress" in the long haul heavy trucking industry requires at least a million miles of end-user data and preferably several million miles.

    The process of accumulating that much independent on-road experience takes time and money. The initial testing may have a great deal of variability because of differences in routes, terrain, weather conditions and driver behavior. Over time the data will become more reliable and the variability will become statistically quantifiable.

    The early stats are not conclusive by any stretch of the imagination, but they're typically a good predictor of how the long-term data will evolve.

    We're not done with our battery selection and system optimization process. The PbC was a great research tool for us because it gave us the ability to develop a series hybrid drivetrain that can do the work of a conventional drivetrain with 50% better fuel efficiency (9 mpg vs 6 mpg). While the PbCs we tested were not robust enough to do the required work on a day in and day out basis, a lot of clever people are developing other energy storage technologies that may be robust enough to meet our requirements.

    There is a material risk that we'll fail in our efforts to find an energy storage system that's stout enough to support our drivetrain. That's why they call the process research and development.
    Oct 23, 2015. 12:10 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Axion Power Concentrator 405: September 26, 2015 [View instapost]
    Long-haul Class 8 trucks are in a league of their own because the useful life of a truck chassis is 12 years and the useful life of a drivetrain is 3 to 5 years. That gives rise to a natural cycle where truck owners have to either rebuild their existing trucks or trade them for new and let the purchaser of the trade-in pay the overhaul costs.

    The best numbers I've been able to find suggest that while OEMs only sell about 200,000 units per year, about 300,000 Class 8 tractors are rebuilt every year.

    By offering a cost effective repower option, ePower will be selling directly to truck owners (a/k/a end users) can choose to spend a pile of money for a conventional rebuild, for choose to spend more for an ePower drivetrain that will provide a solid ROI within the useful life of the replacement drivetrain.

    We're taking it directly to the customers. If the plan was to take ePower's drivetrain to the OEMs I would have passed. That market may develop in the future, but it has no short-term allure for us.

    Proof of behavior.
    Oct 23, 2015. 09:34 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Axion Power Concentrator 405: September 26, 2015 [View instapost]
    I try very hard to avoid criticizing decisions made by others because sidewalk superintendents never have a complete grasp of the facts and circumstances. In most cases I don't know that I would made a different choice and I without rational basis to claim that I could have made a better choice, I have no right to criticize.

    My 12 year adventure with Axion has taught me one critical life lesson – I will never again devote my time, effort and attention to a company that's developing a product that will be a mere component in somebody else's system. Without a direct path to the end user, I'm not interested.

    I still cringe when I recall a conversation I had with a Ford battery guru in 2012. He readily admitted that the PbC would be a far better choice for their stop-start systems before explaining that the business decision was all dollars and cents. He then explained that most of their customers didn't care if their stop-start system stopped working because of a weak battery. As long as the car got them to their destination, it wasn't worth the irritation of scheduling a service call. That reality made it cheaper for them to do warranty repairs for the 5% to 10% of customers who did care than to use a more costly battery in all new cars. The only thing that stands a chance of changing that pragmatic and fiscally prudent attitude is new regulations.

    While each potential battery customer faces a different set of facts, circumstances and business dynamics, they're all focused on their own product development and marketing plans and until they decide to launch a specific product using a specific battery, there's nothing the battery maker can do to influence the process.
    Oct 22, 2015. 09:56 AM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Axion Power Concentrator 405: September 26, 2015 [View instapost]
    Point fairly taken Bob. I'm only human and that makes me frequently wrong. I do, however, try to recognize my shortcomings and promptly admit my mistakes.
    Oct 21, 2015. 11:33 AM | 4 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Axion Power Concentrator 405: September 26, 2015 [View instapost]
    RA> Don't bother trying to defend me because this entire crew has slipped a few cogs on their flywheel.

    This string started with a comment from NBTTF which attributed representations to me that I did not make. The quoted Instablog from December 2012 was written before I returned to the States after 15 years in Europe and it was based entirely on a presentation that Andy Claypole sent me and I provided to readers who wanted to read it.

    My second ePower Instablog discussed my first visit to Florence on January 29, 2013 where I took a deeper look at ePower's technology and described what I saw.

    My third ePower Instablog described a visit to ePower in July 2013 after I agreed to accept ePower's as a client and began my first deep due diligence dive. It presented a lovely graphic showing the demonstrated fuel efficiency of the Gen2 ePower drivetrain at six different weights and at two speeds for each weight.

    The only fuel economy numbers that even came close the 10 to 14 mpg range were for a bobtail tractor with no trailer and no load. I don't know about anybody else but I don't get terribly excited about the fuel economy of a work truck when it isn't doing useful work.

    I'm happy to accept responsibility for representations I make after appropriate due diligence. I will not accept responsibility for statements made by others that I have not confirmed.

    In December 2012 the old ePower presentation gave readers more information than they would otherwise have had access to. As soon as I was in a position to clarify the facts based on my own investigation I did so.

    I have nothing to apologize for.
    Oct 21, 2015. 09:57 AM | 9 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Axion Power Concentrator 405: September 26, 2015 [View instapost]
    I have better things to do with my time than wading through an extensive comment archive to give you chapter and verse quotes. I don't respond well to tantrums.

    I know what I told you when you first started ragging on ePower. If you think back, I'm sure you'll eventually recall that it was your nasty ePower commentary that poisoned a previously cordial relationship.
    Oct 20, 2015. 12:52 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Axion Power Concentrator 405: September 26, 2015 [View instapost]
    My recollection of history is very different from yours. I repeatedly told you the claims would be revised when I completed my due diligence. When I completed my work the numbers were adjusted. Where the old CEO claimed 10 to 14 at 80,000 pounds, my numbers were closer to 9 at 55,000.

    The documentary record is very clear.
    Oct 17, 2015. 07:40 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment