In the context of reporting an almost doubling of its net losses for the third quarter to C$9 million (US$8 million) from C$4.6 million the prior year, hybrid powertrain manufacturer Azure Dynamics said that it will focus on four core products and curtail other activities.
Azure attributed the increased loss primarily to higher engineering and product development costs—specifically the expensing of higher cost, early production vehicles on its G1 series hybrid platform line.
The company also said that—as it had expressed earlier—it is actively seeking a strategic industry partner and is holding talks with various parties.
During the quarter we achieved significant progress as we concluded a number of key agreements in addition to product and customer developments. Our agreements with Ford and StarTrans are major milestones as they align us with industry leaders and provide us with established distribution networks to accelerate penetration into our targeted commercial vehicle and shuttle bus markets.—Campbell Deacon, Deputy Chairman and CEO
In October, Azure Dynamics Corporation signed an agreement with Ford Motor Company to enable Azure to develop a hybrid electric powertrain for Ford’s E-series commercial platform. (Earlier post.) In August, Azure Dynamics signed a definitive supply agreement for the production of hybrid shuttle buses with StarTrans, a leading commercial bus manufacturer in North America, for the first commercially-produced hybrid-electric shuttle bus. (Earlier post.)
The four core programs Azure will continue are:
G1 (series hybrid). The G1 is now commercially available in delivery van and shuttle bus form. Key participants include Workhorse Custom Chassis (part of the International Group) for the chassis platform, Product Concepts Inc. for hybrid chassis modification, StarTrans, and Purolator Courier Inc. as the lead step van customer. During the quarter, Azure completed or is in progress on the first 40 production G1 chassis. Thirty of these units are to be fitted with delivery step van bodies prior to delivery in the fourth quarter of 2006. The remaining units will be converted into shuttle busses mainly for customer deliveries that are now scheduled in early 2007.
P1 development (parallel hybrid for class 3 to 5 trucks and buses). As a result of the agreement with Ford, Azure will focus the development of the P1 parallel powertrain on the Ford E-350 and E-450 commercial vehicle chassis. The P1 pre-production units are anticipated in late-2007 with production commencing in 2008. Ford will assist Azure in the P1 powertrain development and intends, subject to formal agreement, to distribute the hybridized chassis through Ford’s distribution channels.
P2 development (parallel hybrid for class 7 and 8 trucks). The P2 program is now through the initial concept development phase. Azure’s immediate focus for this product is to formalize industry partner arrangements.
Under-The-Hood (UTH) development. Azure developed the UTH component product—a source for distributed power for both on-board vehicle auxiliary loads and off-vehicle power requirements (depending on application)—as a result of Azure’s participation in several military programs. Azure has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Kidron, a division of VT Specialized Vehicles Corporation, for the sale of Azure’s UTH systems throughout the North American refrigerated truck body segment and is expected to be in production in 2007.
Azure will curtail all other activities that are not associated with the above production programs.