AM Investment Strategies
AMS Spring 2023

GE Trades 3D Printed Generator Tech for Stake in EV Startup Hyliion


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General Electric (GE) announced that the company has sold generator technology developed by the company’s additive manufacturing (AM) division, GE Additive, to electric vehicle (EV) startup, Hyliion Holdings Corporation. The latter, based in Texas, specializes in electric powertrains for Class 8 semi-trucks, and recently launched the all-electric, Hypertruck ERX, which is currently available for preorder.

GE Additive, one of the most influential brands in the AM sector, is a division of GE Aerospace (formerly GE Aviation), one of the founding members of the Biden administration’s AM Forward initiative. GE Additive received $15 million in cash for the sale of the generator, as well as $22 million in Hyliion stock, amounting to a three percent stake in the company.

Called the KARNO power system, the generator can run on 20 different types of fuel, including propane, natural gas, and even hydrogen. Hyliion plans to release a version of the Hypertruck powered by the KARNO in the years following the initial release of the ERX, currently scheduled for late 2023.

In a press release, the CEO and founder of Hyliion, Thomas Healy, commented, “Solving climate change, whether through adopting [EVs] or reducing emissions from manufacturing sites, requires clean, efficient, and dependable electricity. Hyliion will leverage the KARNO as the next generation generation onboard the Hypertruck, creating a solution that will operate on various fuel sources that are available today, while remaining future-proofed to run on hydrogen when it becomes widely accessible.”

Will hydrogen ever become widely accessible in real life? Who knows! But it’s nice to have the option, nonetheless. In any case, the significant thing seems to be the wide range of petroleum, natural gas, and byproducts of those that the KARNO can operate on.

Fuel prices seem likely to continue to be volatile into the short-to-intermediate future, and to continue to be increasingly expensive into the long-term future. Thus, it seems worth betting on a generator capable of running on whatever is most cheaply available at any given time. GE and Hyliion both seem to have gotten a good deal here, as it is more likely than not that both the technology and Hyliion are presently being undervalued.

Aside from being yet another example of AM’s relationship to energy-related industries, the KARNO is a useful example of the AM sector’s ability to continue to attract new investment, even in a particularly risk-averse financial environment. Corporate interests seem to have plenty of riding on, and in turn, plenty of patience for, the sector’s development. If that’s true, investment in AM in the next several years should be expected to grow far beyond what has already been seen in the last several years, since that is what’s going to be required for the sector as a whole to scale-up as is being planned.

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