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John Petersen is the executive vice president and chief financial officer of ePower Engine Systems, Inc., a Kentucky-based enterprise that has developed, built and demonstrated an engine-dominant diesel-electric hybrid drivetrain for long-haul heavy trucks that promises fuel savings of 30 to 40... More
My company:
Fefer Petersen & Co.
My blog:
ipo-law.com
  • EPower Progress Update 71 comments
    Nov 23, 2013 7:54 AM | about stocks: AXPW

    I spent the last couple days in Florence meeting with potential supply-chain partners and tracking progress on our third generation series hybrid drivetrain for Class 8 trucks. While things are progressing more slowly than we hoped they would, we're still on track to have both prototypes on the road by January. Axion Power International (OTCQB:AXPW) delivered battery boxes for both trucks this week, the paintwork on the day cab is progressing nicely and our last major hurdle is getting the Cummins six-cylinder engines running the way we want them to. To make that happen we need to find novel ways to make the engine's onboard computer, or ECM, think it's working in a conventional drivetrain instead of a series hybrid drivetrain.

    We've bought two of the 6.7L Cummins engines from trucks that were wrecked after a few thousand miles. The first is a 2010 EPA compliant on road engine and the second is 2014 EPA compliant. Since the 2014 compliant engine presents the most complicated ECM issues, we've tackled it first. We have the engine and exhaust system sitting on the shop floor in a test rack while we work out the ECM issues. Once that work is done we'll install it in the sleeper cab tractor and go to work on the day cab.

    (click to enlarge)

    This engine is unlike any diesel I've ever seen, or for that matter dreamed about. When we ran it for a few minutes inside the shop there was no black smoke and no exhaust smell beyond a faint whiff of amonia. When I asked Jay why we weren't choking from the exhaust fumes he told me that in the City of Los Angeles the exhaust from the 2014 compliant engine was cleaner than the air going through the intake manifold. It's an amazing piece of engineering and our biggest challenge is finding clean work-around solutions for the ECM that won't throw the engine out of EPA compliance.

    The ECM apparently monitors 240 data channels including about 120 channels for the engine and another 120 channels for other truck components including the fuel system, throttle, clutch, transmission, differential, cruise control, speedometer, tachometer, particulate filter, warning lights, etc. It's an incredibly long list of ancillary components that must send the right signals to the ECM or the engine will default to idle mode until the problem is resolved.

    Our challenge has been finding ways to get the right signals to the ECM without throwing the engine out of compliance. The engineering team from Cummins has been very helpful in terms of guiding our efforts, but nobody has ever tried to make an on-road diesel engine power a generator before. So we have to work our way through the sensor systems one circuit at a time and find ways to give the ECM the signals it needs. Each step along the way involves a phone call with a Cummins engineer, a decision respecting the right way to provide the necessary signal and sourcing the right components. The team generally spends more time waiting for UPS to deliver a component than it does installing the component and moving on to the next issue. It's an incredibly tedious process but we're almost done. We have a couple of Cummins engineers scheduled for next Tuesday and hope the ECM issues will be resolved before they leave.

    Once the ECM is working properly for our configuration, Cummins will make another visit with their load-testing equipment to ensure that the engine and generator are putting out the power profile we want. When the load testing is completed it will only take a couple days to move the engine and exhaust system from the shop floor to the tractor. Once we've worked our way through the process with the 2014 compliant engine, the 2010 compliant engine should be much easier. My best guess is that we'll have the sleeper cab running in the first or second week of December and it will take another couple weeks to get the day cab running.

    We're still trying to figure out how we want to handle the preliminary fuel economy testing. We have a very small staff and if the guys are out testing fuel economy on the sleeper cab they can't be turning wrenches on the day cab. So we'll have to make some hard choices. We're just dying to find out how the sleeper cab performs with the new engine. So the urge to push off work on the day cab while we test the sleeper is pretty strong. At the same time we have a contract hauler for FedEx who really wants to put the day cab to work hauling freight. We'll figure it all out, but the choices won't be easy.

    I'm very pleased with the discipline I witnessed this week and the team's refusal to take short cuts that would be good enough for now, but not quite right.

    Disclosure: I am long OTCQB:AXPW.

    Stocks: AXPW
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Comments (71)
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  • SMaturin
    , contributor
    Comments (2111) | Send Message
     
    Great update! Thanks, John.

     

    Sounds rather complicated, trying to keep the ECM happy.
    23 Nov 2013, 09:00 AM Reply Like
  • RBrun357
    , contributor
    Comments (781) | Send Message
     
    JP,

     

    Thanks a bunch for the update. I am certain that there many obstacles to overcome and it appears that ePower has the right staff to handle the challenges. It sounds like a wonderful opportunity for someone mechanically inclined to be associated with the project. It would make you want to get up early and head back to work in order to take on the next challenge!

     

    Thanks again for the update.
    23 Nov 2013, 09:02 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (29478) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » The issues we're dealing with right now are techno-trivia rather than obstacles. When I left yesterday the guys were waiting for 4 LEDs that are used as check engine lights that the ECM can't live without. The problem is that if we short-cut the process we can throw the engine out of the EPA Certified class and we think that's a really important thing to preserve, even if it takes more time.
    23 Nov 2013, 10:03 AM Reply Like
  • froggey77
    , contributor
    Comments (2768) | Send Message
     
    "When I left yesterday the guys were waiting for 4 LEDs that are used as check engine lights that the ECM can't live without."

     

    OY vey.
    24 Nov 2013, 01:24 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (29478) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » When things are designed with that level of connectivity and self-awareness, you either have to circumvent the system and take the engine out of EPA compliance or cooperate with the system to keep it in compliance. We think cooperation is a far better long term strategy, even if it takes a little more time.
    24 Nov 2013, 02:18 PM Reply Like
  • froggey77
    , contributor
    Comments (2768) | Send Message
     
    John
    Absolutely I agree.
    The engine has to be in compliance.
    The fact that you need these LEDs to do so seems silly or perhaps a pain would be a better description. But if you need, it you need it.
    24 Nov 2013, 02:45 PM Reply Like
  • thotdoc
    , contributor
    Comments (1417) | Send Message
     
    Thanks for the update. Very exciting to be part of something that will help with a big problem and make a lot of money...an ideal situation.

     

    Did I hear you volunteer to drive the big trucks on the fuel economy runs while the mechanics are turning wrenches? :-)
    23 Nov 2013, 10:07 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (29478) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » I can't get behind the wheel of the tractor without a commercial drivers license, but we may well ask one of the Axionistas to help.
    23 Nov 2013, 10:35 AM Reply Like
  • ARGE
    , contributor
    Comments (717) | Send Message
     
    Very exciting for sure.
    Good writing BTW, I could feel your exuberance as I read.
    Am a little envious of you working on something revolutionary, would love to help, but don't have a commercial license...ePower don't happen to use a z/OS computer system? ;-)
    27 Nov 2013, 02:20 PM Reply Like
  • D. McHattie
    , contributor
    Comments (1824) | Send Message
     
    I echo the thanks for the update, John.

     

    And though I'm sure you're already doing this, please communicate to all the men and women involved in this project that while they do what they do we are standing on the sidelines with our pom-poms waving and cheering them on. I think iindelco even painted his face for this one 'cause he's weird like that.

     

    D
    23 Nov 2013, 01:36 PM Reply Like
  • SMaturin
    , contributor
    Comments (2111) | Send Message
     
    Face like this Dude?

     

    http://bit.ly/1c1lhQf
    23 Nov 2013, 08:07 PM Reply Like
  • iindelco
    , contributor
    Comments (8794) | Send Message
     
    Hey, I resemble that remark!

     

    Weird? Nah, A.B.Normal.

     

    http://bit.ly/1jypiwc

     

    John, Echo, Thanks much for the update. But can be a little frustrating at times when you want to run but the UPS guy is a little late. Bet he gets a little weirded out when a couple engineers come running out to his truck like they are 3 years old and he's Santa.
    24 Nov 2013, 01:48 PM Reply Like
  • 481086
    , contributor
    Comments (3300) | Send Message
     
    Heroic.
    23 Nov 2013, 02:15 PM Reply Like
  • D-inv
    , contributor
    Comments (3891) | Send Message
     
    Ditto on thanks for the update, JP.
    23 Nov 2013, 06:28 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (29478) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » When we get around to working on the website we may archive our weekly stockholder updates in an accessible form so that outsiders who want to track our progress can do so in real time. I still have to work my way through the legal issues, but the problems don't seem insurmountable. Maybe a progress blog?
    23 Nov 2013, 06:53 PM Reply Like
  • bazooooka
    , contributor
    Comments (2329) | Send Message
     
    It sounds really great JP. I do hope you guys continue to move at the steady pace your going right now. Once again, a better mousetrap you have indeed found.

     

    Hopefully the rest of the world finds this one in short order. All in all good news for Axion too. 5 years from now EPower could be the type of revenue source AXPW had hoped from the big boys. Now only Axions needs to find a few new revenue ramps to stay in the game until then.
    24 Nov 2013, 03:07 AM Reply Like
  • froggey77
    , contributor
    Comments (2768) | Send Message
     
    " Once we've worked our way through the process with the 2014 compliant engine, the 2010 compliant engine should be much easier. "

     

    Realizing I have no idea what the difference is.
    Is it really worth the time and effort to figure out how to set up a 2010 compliant engine?
    It seems like they wouldn't even be selling them anymore. (As 2014 models are out.)

     

    I hope the boxes have Axion inside logo on them
    BTW
    "the paintwork on the day cab is progressing nicely "
    Still thinking about predator green for the paint?
    24 Nov 2013, 01:40 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (29478) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » The 240 hp Cummins 6.7L is a very popular engine and until we have customers lined up out the door who are willing to pay full price for a brand new engine, we'd rather take the Sanford & Son approach and buy our engines from trucks and buses that were wrecked after a few thousand miles. The savings of $15,000 to $20,000 per engine mount quickly in a business like ours.

     

    If you take a careful look at the background in the upper left quadrant of today's photo you may pick up a color theme clue, subdued of course by distance, focus and lighting.
    24 Nov 2013, 02:24 PM Reply Like
  • froggey77
    , contributor
    Comments (2768) | Send Message
     
    "The 240 hp Cummins 6.7L is a very popular engine and until we have customers lined up out the door who are willing to pay full price for a brand new engine,"

     

    I thought all of the engines were going to be replaced with new smaller engines when ePower redid the trucks?

     

    "If you take a careful look at the background in the upper left quadrant of today's photo you may pick up a color theme clue, subdued of course by distance, focus and lighting. "

     

    I was wondering about that. Although I did consider the
    "predator green" coloring comment you made, could have been a joke.
    24 Nov 2013, 02:53 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (29478) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Class 8 tractors typically use 14 liter 450 horsepower engines. We use a 6.7 liter 240 horsepower engine in our conversion.

     

    We have a choice right now. ePower can buy brand new engines from Cummins for about $22,000 a pop or we can buy low mileage engines from wrecked vehicles for about $7,000. Over the next few months every rebuild we do will be completely on our nickel and the tractors will be used as company-owned demonstrators. If you know a sugar daddy who wants to throw an extra $5 million in our direction I'm sure we can spring for new instead of slightly used. As long as we're carefully monitoring our spending and trying to stretch a dollar, slightly used is the only sensible choice.

     

    Seriously, would expect any less from a cheap curmudgeon like me?
    24 Nov 2013, 04:06 PM Reply Like
  • froggey77
    , contributor
    Comments (2768) | Send Message
     
    THX John
    24 Nov 2013, 07:03 PM Reply Like
  • Masi
    , contributor
    Comments (422) | Send Message
     
    I agree John, the demonstrators main purpose is to prove E-Power's numbers. Won't the majority of rebuilds be older models that don't need the new ECM controls or is it the engine that has to comply and not the year of the vehicle?
    26 Nov 2013, 03:57 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (29478) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Standardized ECMs have been around for a long time because they monitor vehicle operating systems to ensure EPA compliance, safety and engine performance. They typically monitor 140 sensor channels for the engine and another 100 sensor channels for non-engine systems that are accessed through 50-pin wiring harness connectors. If you search the term "Cummins ECM Connector" without the quotation marks you'll pull up several good images. Our challenge is making sure that each pin gets the signal it needs.

     

    While the wiring diagrams change from generation to generation, the changes are infrequent enough that it's not hard to keep track of what goes where for an engine manufactured during a particular year.
    26 Nov 2013, 04:42 AM Reply Like
  • froggey77
    , contributor
    Comments (2768) | Send Message
     
    Masi Good question.
    26 Nov 2013, 08:23 PM Reply Like
  • D-inv
    , contributor
    Comments (3891) | Send Message
     
    "Axion Power International (OTC:AXPW) delivered battery boxes for both trucks this week,...."

     

    Was that purchase of two new battery sets from Axion or one new purchase and a repackaged battery set purchased earlier?
    24 Nov 2013, 02:48 PM Reply Like
  • iindelco
    , contributor
    Comments (8794) | Send Message
     
    John, Tagging on D-inv's post.

     

    I was wondering. Is Axion supplying, longer term, just batteries/BMS or are they supplying batteries w/ their respective wiring integrated into the packaging? I know you mentioned before that there might be a wish to supply only full battery strings in their respective pack vs having the customer diagnose any potential issues when a fault arises. I can see how this might make sense given the voltages involved and the importance of getting the connections right to manage voltage drops at the joints. I'm just wondering who is taking on this content short and long term.
    24 Nov 2013, 03:24 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (29478) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » D-inv> For the third generation tractors we had to modify the battery boxes to make room for more extensive on-road emissions control systems. I *think* the old batteries for the sleeper cab were just reinstalled in the new battery boxes. The day cab was a new purchase for sure. Given the size of Axion's quarterly revenue, I really don't expect ePower to make a significant difference until we start building trucks for paying customers.

     

    Iindelco> The PbCs are performing so well in our configuration that no active management is needed and the BMS is more of a monitoring system than a management system. Since a string of 14 12-volt batteries can be pretty scary to folks who don't work with them every day, we've been having the boxes and wiring harnesses fabricated by an outside contractor and then we've gone to Axion for help (training) in packing the boxes and ensuring that the wring harnesses are installed correctly. Over the longer term we'll have to hire and train our own specialists to do the battery box work, but for now it's good to have a friendly supplier to work with.
    24 Nov 2013, 04:16 PM Reply Like
  • iindelco
    , contributor
    Comments (8794) | Send Message
     
    Thanks John, Perfect. All makes sense to me. Especially having Axion oversee the initial training to make sure the string wiring is balanced. Also, if anything happens in this area a solution will be quicker to come by since Axion had their hand in the initial integration.

     

    I really like to see the experts get grease under their nails upfront because it gives them an opportunity to enhance the entire system vs just their piece which makes for much improved odds for success. In the end everyone needs to assist in the production of the system not just their discreet contribution.
    24 Nov 2013, 04:55 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (29478) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Jay is thrilled with the level of hands-on support he gets from Axion.
    24 Nov 2013, 05:07 PM Reply Like
  • iindelco
    , contributor
    Comments (8794) | Send Message
     
    That's good because they can't sell batteries without system sales.

     

    I truly hope Cummins is as aggressive. Often, for such a large company, a program like this can seem insignificant and will suffer accordingly. Their input is also key in light of the complexity of their system, their broad sector expertise and also because of the tools they can bring to the effort that a small company like ePower could only dream of affording.

     

    If they are backing it seriously it also shows a level of vindication for the opportunity as well. If ePower was "all wet" they wouldn't give them the resources they need to move forward.
    24 Nov 2013, 05:24 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (29478) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » We're getting better support than we expected from Cummins because they've apparently put into a re-power program while our OEM certification request grinds its way through the system. We're in regular contact with both corporate and the regional VAR and they're both fairly responsive when we call for help. While they're not waiting for our calls with bated breath or chasing us down to offer extra assistance, we don't feel like red-headed stepchildren.
    24 Nov 2013, 05:27 PM Reply Like
  • iindelco
    , contributor
    Comments (8794) | Send Message
     
    I'd also expect Cummins has taken some information and pushed it up the ladder in the organization so that they can run a quick litmus test on the results ePower is expecting. If the numbers hold water word is getting out. I would expect that if they are giving support it's not only probable that the technology expectations are feasible but they also want to be involved to keep tabs on how things are progressing.
    24 Nov 2013, 06:01 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (29478) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » I certainly hope you're right.
    24 Nov 2013, 06:25 PM Reply Like
  • Stefan Moroney
    , contributor
    Comments (2487) | Send Message
     
    Me too. Thanks for the detailed update John.
    24 Nov 2013, 06:28 PM Reply Like
  • jveal
    , contributor
    Comments (652) | Send Message
     
    It's so refreshing to get regular updates on the progress of one of Axion's developing markets!!! Thanks John.

     

    According to TG, the PowerCube seems to be progressing in a similar or more accelerated manner, even though hidden from our sight. NSC and BMW are still progressing yet also veiled to us.
    24 Nov 2013, 09:13 PM Reply Like
  • nakedjaybird
    , contributor
    Comments (2658) | Send Message
     
    John - is there a breakpoint in number of units by Cummings where they will make e-power an application specific engine that minimizes ancillary if not auxiliary gadgetry which is just waiting for Murphy's Law problems for failure under operation on the road (such as a simple indicating LED fails and the system shuts down or at a minimum requires a return trip to the shop, or a shop)?
    Especially, a unit that does not require epower to append or rewrite it's software system each year for new changes required by regs or even Cummings which have no benefit or impact to the series hybrid?
    25 Nov 2013, 11:58 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (29478) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » ePower is currently getting help from Cummins under one of their re-power initiatives. The kind of thing you're talking about would require full OEM certification before it could even be raised as a topic of discussion. With enough time and money it would be no problem to write a custom program for the existing ECM, but it isn't going to happen quickly.

     

    The wiring harness solutions we're developing should not be a big source of future problems. All the additions are simple things like resistors and LEDs that have a very long useful life and once the entire wiring harness is working properly, standard Cummins diagnostic equipment should be able to pinpoint any faults very quickly.
    25 Nov 2013, 12:12 PM Reply Like
  • danpm4life
    , contributor
    Comments (84) | Send Message
     
    “With enough time and money it would be no problem to write a custom program for the existing ECM, but it isn't going to happen quickly.”

     

    JP, except what you provided, I don’t know any of the financials for the cost of new, vs. low mileage engines from wrecked trucks, vs. rebuilt engines. In Calif, cash for clunker trucks program, it requires that all operating trucks must be EPA certified. Wouldn’t e-Power’s OEM certification request, that is grinding through the system, AND early proprietary ECM software programs (one for each EPA certification period), provide e-Power with a larger moat to better protect itself from non-authorized e-Power wannabees down the road?

     

    If e-Power combines the software send/distribution with the registration/warranty process, e-Power can automatically have a more efficient data collection process & better marketing intelligence as their kits are sold. Plus, having visited the e-Power web site, there is a lot that e-Power could do to improve its functionality without spending a tiny fraction of the cost of the Obamacare web site. While money is tight, I would expect that any e-Power request for funding that builds it web presence & functionality, & protects its moat would be better received.

     

    Also, thanks for the updates on e-Power’s progress. It’s great to have operational insight into the progress of the AXPW partner.
    25 Nov 2013, 06:14 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (29478) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Federal and State rules apply to new vehicles only. So when you do a major overhaul on an older tractor the rules that applied when the tractor was built are the ones you have to comply with. Sooner or later everything will have to comply with the 2014 standards, but that day is probably a decade or more away.

     

    For our demonstrator fleet, it makes no sense to buy brand new engines when an ample supply of low mileage engines from wrecked vehicles is available. When customers start ordering trucks and are willing to pay for new rather than slightly used engines, we'll satisfy our customers.

     

    We can't even think about asking Cummins to write a custom ECM program until we get an OEM Certification. By that time we'll know how to wire the relevant range of engines to work with our drivetrain. The website is on our to-do list, but other matters have priority for now.
    25 Nov 2013, 06:24 PM Reply Like
  • froggey77
    , contributor
    Comments (2768) | Send Message
     
    IIndelco
    TG has talked about the low hanging fruit with semi's as SS.
    What with JP's statement of Axion getting Cummins to look at ePower's test I expect they are interested.
    26 Nov 2013, 08:28 PM Reply Like
  • iindelco
    , contributor
    Comments (8794) | Send Message
     
    Froggey, Fingers and eyes crossed. But it takes time.
    26 Nov 2013, 09:39 PM Reply Like
  • D Lane
    , contributor
    Comments (1226) | Send Message
     
    Very fun to read this report! Thanks for sharing it. I learned a lot.

     

    I can't resist responding to one bit of poetic license.

     

    >but nobody has ever tried to make an on-road diesel engine power a generator >before.

     

    There is an exception to that. . . HybriDrive for transit buses. And they use Cummins ISB 6.7--but with 280 HP.
    http://bit.ly/1c3LRrZ

     

    But maybe you mean as a refurb--using off the shelf components. Or maybe I'm missing something.
    24 Nov 2013, 10:12 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (29478) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » I wasn't aware that BAE was using the Cummins 6.7 in their bus system but you can bet your bottom dollar that they sprang for a custom ECM from Cummins that matches their requirements.
    25 Nov 2013, 05:46 AM Reply Like
  • D Lane
    , contributor
    Comments (1226) | Send Message
     
    No doubt thats right John.

     

    FYI, anyone interested can read Altoona test reports on buses with Hybridrive. One of them is report number 1015. Search the database for that report at
    http://bit.ly/1etQfk6
    25 Nov 2013, 09:22 AM Reply Like
  • raleigh731
    , contributor
    Comments (281) | Send Message
     
    I like this report. As I was reading it, I couldn't help but imagine the Cummins' engineers going back to their home plant and discussing the e-power set up with other engineers, and also about the axion batteries. I've got to think that this spreads some tentacles out in the Cummins' world to other potential axion and e-power users.
    25 Nov 2013, 08:47 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (29478) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » It's important to understand that ePower tried to get Cummins' attention for a couple years and couldn't get so much as a return phone call. Earlier this year Axion weighed in on ePower's behalf and set up a meeting with Cummins where a large engineering team examined the ePower hybrid and did a preliminary performance test on their track. That meeting was the beginning of the cooperation between ePower and Cummins. Axion has never publicly discussed whether it has a relationship with Cummins, which is what I'd expect in a normal NDA situation. But I view the initial ePower meeting as pretty clear proof that some kind of relationship between Axion and Cummins was in place before the meeting.
    25 Nov 2013, 08:57 AM Reply Like
  • RBrun357
    , contributor
    Comments (781) | Send Message
     
    JP,

     

    "Axion has never publicly discussed whether it has a relationship with Cummins, which is what I'd expect in a normal NDA situation. But I view the initial ePower meeting as pretty clear proof that some kind of relationship between Axion and Cummins was in place before the meeting."

     

    I agree, what other reason could there be where Axion would be able to set up the meeting?

     

    I am waiting for the Cummins stop/start system powered by PbC!
    25 Nov 2013, 09:37 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (29478) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » That's what I'm hoping for, but heaven only knows how long that kind of testing and validation might take. Part of me wants to believe the process will be shortened by the existing BMW and NS data and the fact that trucks are harder on their batteries than passenger cars so they typically have shorter cycle lives. Another part of me knows that Cummins is the 800 pound gorilla in the diesel engine space and they're not going to put their reputation at risk without testing a solution eight ways from Sunday.
    25 Nov 2013, 09:49 AM Reply Like
  • ARGE
    , contributor
    Comments (717) | Send Message
     
    Well John, the old joke about where does a 800lb gorilla sit* doesn't apply to Trucks?
    In DP the 800lb gorilla's (MS, Cisco, etc.) put out poorly tested crud all the time and fix it on the fly to beat the competition to the punch.
    The thing I find annoying is that AGM where put out and failed without much testing and the PcB is tested 6 ways to Sunday.

     

    *ANYWHERE HE WANTS TO -- in case anyone missed that joke.
    27 Nov 2013, 03:45 PM Reply Like
  • RBrun357
    , contributor
    Comments (781) | Send Message
     
    JP,

     

    I agree completely with the very long testing protocol possibility but like you mentioned maybe BMW results will assist with that a little. But if/when they announce a start/stop powered by PbC I can imagine the impact on the reputation of the PbC along with the calculations that would take place attempting to figure out how many PbC batteries that would demand at 2 per truck!
    25 Nov 2013, 10:29 AM Reply Like
  • Stefan Moroney
    , contributor
    Comments (2487) | Send Message
     
    Keep in mind that we were told about a year and half ago that a top 5 Asian auto OEM was using BMW's data and would likely go into fleet testing within 6 months ... then crickets. At the annual meeting when asked for an update on those statements, as I recall, the message had evolved to we are now working with their trucking division.

     

    While the anecdotal statements about BMW during the CCs are interesting, the fact remains that its been crickets from them since 2009 as well.
    25 Nov 2013, 10:40 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (29478) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » The crickets have sounded the same since 2009, but frogs joined the nocturnal chorus when Axion reported that "Our hybrid passenger vehicle work has entered a new phase. The OEM, in an anticipated effort to insure they will not have a “sole source” issue, has asked us to pursue with them, an alternate provider of our final product. Since this initiative is in keeping with our long stated future strategy (“to become the leading supplier of carbon electrode assemblies for the global lead-acid battery industry”), we embraced the process. We are a few months into that program and it is going well."

     

    The importance of this disclosure can't be overlooked because it effectively says "They like the battery and are now taking steps to ensure a reliable supply chain before making an implementation decision." It tells me that the PbC has cleared the technical hurdles and now it's just a matter of implementation at relevant scale.

     

    We may hear nothing but crickets, but I'll guarantee you that an existing BMW supply chain partner will want a lot more than fuzzy promises before it commits to PbC production.
    25 Nov 2013, 10:54 AM Reply Like
  • danpm4life
    , contributor
    Comments (84) | Send Message
     
    "They like the battery and are now taking steps to ensure a reliable supply chain before making an implementation decision."

     

    To help resolve the sole source issue, and to track Axion’s PbC’s manufactured from another source, is there any new information on the status of AXPW equivalent of a vehicle identification number (VIN) or BIN?
    25 Nov 2013, 06:36 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (29478) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Every battery is bar coded, a process that presumably includes a discrete identification number. I have no idea what Axion does with the data.
    25 Nov 2013, 06:38 PM Reply Like
  • Masi
    , contributor
    Comments (422) | Send Message
     
    Stefan, you wrote "While the anecdotal statements about BMW during the CCs are interesting, the fact remains that its been crickets from them since 2009 as well. "

     

    Have you forgotten that the entire world economy collapsed and has been improving only at a snails pace? I would think that the economy has a major role to play in any expectations. Much of the "GREEN" tech movement is/was subsidized by government grants here in the U.S. or by direct infusions of cash in foreign countries. Most of that money has been curtailed due to the economic crash but AXPW continues to move forward. Have/did you cut back on your spending in the last 5 years or were you one of the lucky ones that weren't effected? Then you have the GOP who twice in the past two years tried to destroy the U.S. Government. Who knows if they will try again in January? Just this last time cost the U.S. economy 24 Billion in immediate effect . These shutdowns have years of lingering effects. All I'm trying to say is to please take the entire picture into account.

     

    Getting a company/persons to spend 10s of thousands or millions may be put on hold while these political games continue. I hope it never happens again.
    26 Nov 2013, 04:52 AM Reply Like
  • D-inv
    , contributor
    Comments (3891) | Send Message
     
    " Then you have the GOP who twice in the past two years tried to destroy the U.S. Government. Who knows if they will try again in January? Just this last time cost the U.S. economy 24 Billion in immediate effect ."

     

    :-) That assessment is too cockeyed to allow to pass without demur. More than a few people see a different reality.
    26 Nov 2013, 10:02 AM Reply Like
  • Stefan Moroney
    , contributor
    Comments (2487) | Send Message
     
    Masi -

     

    The point is that Norfolk Southern has given public head nods to Axion over the years. BMW, while choosing to publicly invest in some ventures as described yesterday, has not given a public head nod to Axion since 2009.

     

    Now there are arguments for and against why BMW might give Axion another head nod, but the fact is they did it once so why haven't they done it again? I don't know the answer and refuse to speculate anymore as to why.
    26 Nov 2013, 10:22 AM Reply Like
  • RBrun357
    , contributor
    Comments (781) | Send Message
     
    D-inv,

     

    Once again we agree! I have a different opinion also but since it is politics I will not engage further.

     

    I will just say that in regards to the Republicans and Democrats, It takes 2 to tango!
    26 Nov 2013, 10:42 AM Reply Like
  • Stefan Moroney
    , contributor
    Comments (2487) | Send Message
     
    John -

     

    I agree there are sign posts showing a future path, but I don't necessarily believe that the sign posts will mean anything for the current investors.

     

    You can call me skeptical, but the price beat down longtime holders have suffered and interminable delays have made me that way.

     

    Riddle me this: What happens if we are another 6 to 8 months out with no more or maybe one or two more minicube sales?
    25 Nov 2013, 11:21 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (29478) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » That could be a problem.

     

    On the other hand, what happens if ePower's 10 unit demonstration fleet builds an order backlog for a hundred or several hundred tractors over the same period? What happens if we find out that NS has been playing hide the ball with the NS 999 while they did the real work somewhere else? While I'm not a big fan of stationary systems because I think the market is too crowded, what happens if Axion rolls out a series of stationary projects on some island?

     

    I fully understand a "show me the money" attitude, but think a presumption that Axion can't and won't is inappropriate. I know of at least one Axionista who's busting tail to blaze a trail. There just might be others.
    25 Nov 2013, 11:29 AM Reply Like
  • Stefan Moroney
    , contributor
    Comments (2487) | Send Message
     
    Quarterly report timeline:

     

    May 2013

     

    Our hybrid passenger vehicle work has entered a new phase. The OEM, in an anticipated effort to insure they will not have a “sole source” issue, has asked us to pursue with them, an alternate provider of our final product. Since this initiative is in keeping with our long stated future strategy (“to become the leading supplier of carbon electrode assemblies for the global lead-acid battery industry”), we embraced the process. We are a few months into that program and it is going well.

     

    August 2013

     

    Our hybrid passenger vehicle work continues. Our OEM partner asked us to work with an alternate manufacturer of our product so as to insure there will not be a “sole source provider” issue in the future. To date, the collaborative results have been productive from a manufacturing feasibility standpoint and the work continues. As long stated, since this initiative is in keeping with our future strategy (“to become the leading supplier of carbon electrode assemblies for the global lead-acid battery industry”), we have embraced the process.

     

    November 2013

     

    As mentioned in our second quarter, we have been working with an additional partner with respect to the manufacture of a product for the hybrid passenger vehicle market. That work has continued in the third quarter. We have made modifications along the way and will continue to do so with the concurrence of our OEM strategic partner.

     

    The 10-Q then segues to trucks with this statement:

     

    "But our real focus in the vehicle market remains the truck applications and specifically the Class 8 market."

     

    As usual, not sure what to make of the progression.
    25 Nov 2013, 12:05 PM Reply Like
  • nakedjaybird
    , contributor
    Comments (2658) | Send Message
     
    Stef - as in most races, number 2 moved to number 1, or the number 2 jockey and horse are not encumbered by a third influence or burden, called an OEM: hence, the odds now favor number 2 at this point in the race. Can we change our bets?? Not at the race track, once the race begins, best I know. So guys, we are advantaged in our case, short of a bog in the track that is not financially jumpable.

     

    AND that bog-jump must be faced before the finish line, unfortunately, as it appears right now.
    25 Nov 2013, 12:09 PM Reply Like
  • 481086
    , contributor
    Comments (3300) | Send Message
     
    I wonder if perhaps TG either a) was asked to, or b) was advised to, or c) independently decided to deliberately lower the temperature on near term OEM deal speculation...

     

    I don't know what the various reasons or implications might be if that were the case. But it was just a thought....
    25 Nov 2013, 01:25 PM Reply Like
  • iindelco
    , contributor
    Comments (8794) | Send Message
     
    48, I think of the two tour guides walking a group through a rain forest, TG is not the guy pointing out all the various things of interest and detailing information on each item but is instead playing the role of the storyteller in the group relaying myths and legends about prior civilizations that lived in the area. He's more interested in leading the audience than relaying all the facts.

     

    Edit, My opinion of course.
    25 Nov 2013, 01:39 PM Reply Like
  • RBrun357
    , contributor
    Comments (781) | Send Message
     
    I am believing that since TG has been so wrong in his timing predictions he is making a few adjustments. I have to think that TG feels a ton of pressure to get revenues started so he will not have to put himself back into a similar position going for more funding. He knows that revenues are the only thing that can pull Axion through this chapter without a failure mode so he is probably taking count every week on which project could produce a PO the soonest and that becomes the new priority.

     

    Also, I am wondering if the negotiations with the big boys (BMW & unnamed battery manufaturer) are into the stage where they are putting demands on Axion in regards to pricing and such so TG has decided to tell them that they are not quite the priority for Axion at this point and when they are ready to come closer to TG's terms then they can sit down and talk.

     

    TG has publicly stated that they have pushed BMW to the back of the table for now, this appears to me to be a way of telling BMW and unnamed battery manufacturer that we have the PbC that you want and really need so let's talk but we want our terms addressed too!

     

    Just thinking!
    25 Nov 2013, 09:00 PM Reply Like
  • D-inv
    , contributor
    Comments (3891) | Send Message
     
    Interesting thoughts, RB. And, the pricing aspect might be thought of as consist with a studied lack of optimism/upbeat attitude about the "larger" than usual meeting re-BMW use of PbC in first week of December. I'm thinking "larger" than usual could indicate participants will include personnel of BMW, Axion, and the battery OEM BMW introduced to Axion (or introduced Axion to).

     

    Would really like to see one or more sales contract announcements this week. to boost share price ahead of December.
    25 Nov 2013, 10:25 PM Reply Like
  • RBrun357
    , contributor
    Comments (781) | Send Message
     
    D-inv,

     

    It seems to me that there has been plenty of time to put most of the issues to rest in regards to the 3 way relationship. I agree with you that the "larger" mention may suggest all needed participants to put pen to paper if they can finalize the terms. With what I have heard about TG he would probably walk out of the room if the other two do not come to his required terms! One way to express your position is to come out publicly and announce that you have pushed BMW to the back of your desk and are focusing on other opportunities. I have been involved in a few negotiations with unions and such and have witnessed this type of action plus I watch TV! ;-)). I may be getting way out of reality with this but I do believe that if I was in TG's situation I would much rather go into a meeting with the big boys knowing that I do not need to sign a deal today!

     

    If Axion could put out a few press releases with some significance soon then they would definitely be in a secure place during negotiations. Plus it would definitely make our Thanksgiving a really nice thanksgiving!
    25 Nov 2013, 11:16 PM Reply Like
  • raleigh731
    , contributor
    Comments (281) | Send Message
     
    RB, This is true. I knew one of my salespeople had arrived when she turned down a $50,000 yearly contract because the rate (per spot) was too low. She was really proud of herself, and I was proud of her, too. That client came back a week later and completed the deal on our terms, although we had to delay a month because we couldn't accommodate for the month we were in. Of course in radio, you are dealing with limited inventory and extremely perishable product....once the time is gone, it's gone.
    26 Nov 2013, 07:50 AM Reply Like
  • D-inv
    , contributor
    Comments (3891) | Send Message
     
    "I may be getting way out of reality with this but I do believe that if I was in TG's situation I would much rather go into a meeting with the big boys knowing that I do not need to sign a deal today!"

     

    :-) TG's cc remarks re-auto included something along the lines of "When it happens it will add to our bottom line. But it is not our bottom line."
    26 Nov 2013, 10:07 AM Reply Like
  • RBrun357
    , contributor
    Comments (781) | Send Message
     
    D-inv,

     

    That does seem to support that theory pretty closely!

     

    "When it happens it will add to our bottom line. But it is not our bottom line."
    26 Nov 2013, 10:20 AM Reply Like
  • froggey77
    , contributor
    Comments (2768) | Send Message
     
    While I want to believe; it will take another bowl or two of hopium to get there.
    26 Nov 2013, 08:39 PM Reply Like
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