European energy giant invests in Honeoye Falls fuel cell maker

hyzon-logo-rgbHydrogen mobility and clean energy company Hyzon Motors Inc. and Total Carbon Neutrality Ventures, the venture capital arm of European energy giant Total SE, have announced a strategic investment led by Total and other specialist hydrogen investors.

Financial details of the investment were not disclosed, but Bloomberg reported that the investment totaled more than $15 million and valued Hyzon at around $200 million. That could rise to $20 million, Bloomberg reported, citing parties close to the matter.

Hyzon Motors early this year unveiled its U.S. headquarters and production facility at the former General Motors Corp. fuel-cell facility in Honeoye Falls.

With production facilities in North America, Europe and Asia, Hyzon expects to deliver some 5,000 fuel cell trucks and buses over the next three years. By 2025, Hyzon’s expected turn-key capacity will be more than 40,000 fuel cell vehicles annually.

“Over the past 17 years, the Hyzon founding team has been fully focused on developing our own proton-exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell technology, the ‘engine’ of any hydrogen-powered vehicle, with the aim of producing the world’s most advanced fuel cell and the world’s most powerful yet cleanest heavy vehicles,” said Craig Knight, CEO and co-founder of Hyzon Motors. “While we already have around 400 buses and trucks on the road with our fuel cells today, the global appetite for zero-emission heavy vehicles has grown significantly and Hyzon is now ramping operations to meet this demand.”

Other investors in this round of funding include Ascent Hydrogen Fund, Hydrogen Capital Partners and Audacy Ventures Ltd., officials noted.

“Total Carbon Neutrality Ventures invests in early-stage companies which support Total’s ambition to get to net-zero emissions by 2050, together with society,” said Girish Nadkarni, CEO at Total Carbon Neutrality Ventures. “Its investments allow us to expand the reach of our low-carbon businesses beyond our own borders.”

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Senators, congressman urge GM to produce ventilators in Rochester

Elected officials are urging General Motors Corp. to begin producing ventilators at the company’s Rochester facility.

U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Congressman Joseph Morelle on Tuesday sent word to GM Chairman and CEO Marry Barra to locate ventilator production at GM’s Rochester components plant to help mitigate the severe shortage of the life-saving device.

Schumer, Gillibrand and Morelle in a joint statement explained that the Rochester plant is particularly suitable to support the increased ventilator production because it already is equipped with a large Class 100,000 cleanroom to allow for manufacturing in a sterile environment, in addition to performing high volume assembly, including injection molding and precision laser welding.

The three representatives emphasized that in addition to being equipped to produce the medical equipment, the Rochester workforce also is eager and willing to contribute to the COVID-19 fight, as the leadership of the United Auto Workers Local 1097 informed the senators. UAW Local 1097 represents Rochester’s more than 800 hourly union workers.

“GM is gearing up to contribute to the COVID-19 fight, and our Rochester workforce is eager to help,” Schumer said in the statement. “That kind of enthusiasm for serving the country and New York, which has 5 percent of cases worldwide, should not be ignored. GM’s Rochester plant is ready to go as soon as they get the word. In a fight against a pandemic where decisive action and speed is of utmost importance, there is no time to be wasted. I urge GM to locate its ventilator production at its Rochester plant, providing New York and the rest of the country with life-saving medical equipment ASAP.”

The push comes following GM’s March 20 announcement that it would be joining with Ventec Life Systems in order to produce ventilators needed to treat COVID-19 infected patients with respiratory complications. The partnership allows Ventec access to GM’s logistics, purchasing and manufacturing expertise, vastly increasing Ventec’s capacity to produce ventilators and send them to the coronavirus pandemic’s frontlines, officials said.

“Our community has always come together during times of crisis to help those in need—and we are ready to step up and do our part to fight the global COVID-19 pandemic,” Morelle said. “GM’s Rochester plant is uniquely poised to produce much-needed ventilators and help save lives in our community and across the country. We need to utilize every resource available to address this public health emergency, which is why I urge GM to act swiftly and begin its ventilator production in Rochester immediately.”

GM has made more than $200 million in upgrades in recent years, making it the ideal spot to produce the ventilators, the senators noted.

“The women and men of UAW local 1097 are ready to help out in any way that we can to make life better during this pandemic. We will answer the call to produce medical equipment that is in short supply and so desperately needed at this time. Be assured we will do all in our power to help keep our community and our Nation safe during this global crisis,” said Dan Maloney, president of UAW Local 1097.

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Local workers join national strike of GM

Rochester members of the United Auto Workers are on strike with thousands of others across the country, protesting lack of progress on a labor contract with General Motors.

GM workers were picketing in Rochester Sept. 17. (Photo by Velvet Spicer)
GM workers were picketing in Rochester Sept. 17. (Photo by Velvet Spicer)

Dan Maloney, president of UAW Local 1097 in Rochester, said presidents from around the country attended a leadership meeting in Detroit Sunday morning.

“They told us we were miles apart in the negotiation,” he said. As a result, the leaders agreed to have their membership go on strike at midnight.  Maloney said the leaders gave a “resounding yes to take the corporation on. The reason for that is there’s been decades of concessions given by these auto workers. …  All we’re asking in return is job security, fair wage and safety on the job.”

In Rochester, 870 unionized workers at the plant on Lexington Avenue are on strike and picketing. The plant makes fuel systems and emission controls for GM cars and trucks.

GM officials wouldn’t comment directly on the strike and negotiations, pointing instead to a company statement online reading, “Negotiations have resumed. Our goal remains to reach an agreement that builds a stronger future for our employees and our business.”

Maloney criticized GM for taking a massive bailout during the 2008 fiscal crisis and then moving work to Mexico and Asia since then. Of the Big Three automakers, GM now has the smallest U.S. workforce, he said, though it sells the most vehicles.

“We’re fed up,” Maloney said. “It was time to draw a line in the sand and we did so.”

The company has stockpiled autos so it can continue selling cars during a strike. Maloney said they do that every time a contract is up for renewal so they won’t be affected. But he predicted that after two weeks, when buyers may not be able to find the exact model they want, the company will start to hurt.

Maloney said Teamsters and steel workers are supporting the strike by refusing to transport finished GM products or deliver steel to their plants.

“We’re willing to go back to work tomorrow, as long as the company is willing to give a fair share of the pie we bake,” Maloney said.

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