This week we look at the salaries of some of the CEOs of de-SPACed startups of electric vehicles whose stock values are falling, and the 15th anniversary of a technology that is literally driving the industry.
The de-SPACed Pay picture
Proxy materials usually don’t make scintillating reading. However, a company’s top earners can be interesting, especially when the CEOs hold controlling interests in their companies – and receive a salary and other dollar-denominated perks.
We have seen a few paper billionaires – Nikola Corp. founder Trevor Milton, and Hyliion Holdings founder Thomas Healy – fall to earth, albeit hundreds of millions in stock based on their roughly 20% Investments.
Don’t shed tears either. Milton has paid out tens of millions of dollars in shares since it was lifted in December. Healy can’t do anything with its stocks until October.
Without trying to be complete, conclusive – or judgmental – here are the cash compensation numbers for some of the once high-flying Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) executives who removed SPAC and are subject to volatile markets. Share awards, options, and conversions from their private shares prior to SPAC are too mushy to report here.
Romeo Power Inc. (NYSE: RMO)
CEO Lionel Selwood, who assumed the top position in September, received $ 421,929, including $ 36,276 as a rental grant in the Los Angeles area, where Romeo is based. The stock closed at $ 6.61 on Thursday, 6 cents above the 52-week low and well below the high of $ 38.90. The manufacturer of commercial vehicle batteries announced its business combination with RMG Acquisition Corp. on December 29th. completed.
Canoo Inc. (NASDAQ: GOEV)
Tony Aquila, Executive Chairman and CEO, received a seemingly modest salary of $ 145,380 last year. Add $ 473,171 for housing reimbursement and the total was $ 618,551. Former CEO Ulrich Kranz – known for developing the i3 and i8 models over a 30-year career at BMW – received $ 708,045 in cash.
Canoo went public with support from Hennessy Capital, a serial SPAC starter who raised $ 600 million in its fourth SPAC to fund Canoo’s advanced skateboard design for multiple products. Canoo stock closed at $ 7.13 on Thursday, well below its 52-week high of $ 24.90.
Hyliion Holdings (NYSE: HYLN)
Healy received a salary of $ 320,192 and $ 31,000 for security services, private air travel for him and a guest to attend the bell ceremony recognizing Hyliion’s public debut, and gifts received upon completion of the business combination with Tortoise Acquisition Corp. received last October. Hyliion stock closed Thursday at a 52-week low of $ 7.69. They traded as high as $ 58.66 last September, just before the reverse merger was completed.
Hyliion hybrid (Photo: Hyliion)
Nikola (NASDAQ: NKLA)
Milton is out of the picture as an executive, but he could appear on the proxy for the nearly 10 months he spent as chairman of the board before stepping down. Nikola is still paying his legal bills as federal investigations by the Securties and Exchange Commission and the U.S. District Court for the Southern Borough of New York continue.
Nikola has postponed its first annual meeting from June 8-30, so we don’t know how much CEO Mark Russell was paid for his first year as managing director of the company. The same goes for others like the CEO of ChargePoint Holdings (NASDAQ: CHPT), Pasquale Romano, and the founder and CEO of Lordtown Motors Corp. (NASDAQ: RIDE), Steve Burns.
Automated manual transmissions have all but put an end to manual shifting in heavy trucks. There are some problems – off-highway and service trips – but more than 90% of truck transmissions are either AMTs or fully automated.
Volvo Trucks this week reminded everyone that its I-Shift AMT launched in Europe in 2001 and has been in the North American market since 2007. Back then, truckers expected to shift a lot. From about 2012 onwards, AMT’s popularity grew, even though it cost more than a manual.
The main trade-off was better fuel economy, which meant a fleet could get its up-front cost for fuel savings back. And it has drastically reduced driver fatigue. Today’s AMTs help bring fuel consumption for on-highway Class 8 trucks to a previously unseen double-digit level.
According to Volvo Trucks, the I-Shift was standard across its range of models until 2013. Today, AMTs account for 94% of Volvo transmission orders. Johan Agebrand, Head of Product Marketing at Volvo Trucks North America, said 217,000 I-Shift transmissions have been sold in the region over the past 15 years.
With intelligent electronics for continuous monitoring of incline, speed, weight and engine load, I-Shift shifts or holds a gear as required to save fuel. The transmission system is synchronized and integrated with the rest of the truck. Engine and vehicle information is used to make optimal use of the operation for various applications and tractor-trailer combinations.
There’s another reason I-Shift and its competitors are so popular. Most younger drivers cannot drive a manual. You never learned. Now it’s unlikely they will ever need it.
The Volvo Trucks I-Shift (Photo: Volvo Trucks)
California (incentive) dreams
California’s contribution to getting cleaner trucks on the road will soon be spending money to help fleets buy electric trucks and buses. Half of the $ 165 million that will eventually become available is slated for release on June 8th. The program is called HVIP and stands for the unwieldy incentive project for hybrid and emission-free truck and bus vouchers.
HVIP offers an average discount of 20% off the price of electric vehicles, which upfront costs significantly more than traditional diesel-powered trucks. For example, a Freightliner eCascadia Class 8 and other battery-powered Class 8 trucks receive an incentive of $ 120,000.
Depending on how the applications are received – 1,400 fleets have participated so far – the money won’t last long. For example, New Legend ordered 50 eCascadias last week. The company is unlikely to be incentivized for everyone. This would add up to $ 6 million of the $ 82.5 million available in the first tranche.
Medium trucks typically get discounts of $ 85,000, and the parity calculation works better with diesel trucks as they drive repeatable last mile and regional routes and allow nightly top-up to base, which is cheaper is more than charging during peak hours of the day.
As of 2009, HVIP has paid 7,000 commercial vehicles, 58% of which operate in the state’s most polluted communities.
That’s all for this week. Thank you for reading. Would you like to receive Truck Talk in your email every Friday? Subscribe here.