Volvo Group acquires Proterra’s battery business

Bus and truck challenger’s tech salvaged by Swedish OEM

Volvo Group acquires Proterra’s battery business
Proterra's batteries will now come under the Volvo Group umbrella

Swedish truck maker Volvo Group has acquired the battery arm of Proterra, a bankrupt US EV and powertrain firm which specialised in electric buses, for $210mn.

If the transaction is approved by a US bankruptcy court, Volvo will assume ownership of Proterra Powered, which is the firm’s battery, powertrain and e-mobility technology business. “The assets to be acquired include a development centre for battery modules and packs in California and an assembly factory in South Carolina,” says Volvo.

The agreement is expected to close in early 2024. Volvo Group, not to be confused with Sino-Swedish car manufacturer Volvo Cars, is a trucking firm which manufacturers trucks and buses under brands such as Renault Trucks, Nova Bus, and Mack Trucks.

“With this acquisition, Volvo Group will complement the current, and accelerate its future, battery-electric road map,” the OEM says, adding that “the transaction has no material impact on the Volvo Group financial performance”.

While Proterra routinely made losses, including an Ebitda loss of $50,000 in Q1, its battery technology has been seen as a valuable asset to salvage for the electric bus and truck industry.

“I am looking at the Volvo-Proterra deal as something very positive”, says Reece Archer, head of e-mobility at Strativ Group, adding that the agreement is “an opportunity for all of Proterra's hard work, technology, infrastructure and all the other great things they have achieved over almost two decades to be hopefully utilised and put to good use”.

Proterra filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August citing “various market and macroeconomic headwinds that have impacted [its] ability to efficiently scale”.

“We entered into the Chapter 11 process with a mission to maximise the potential of each of our product lines. Today, we have taken an important step towards that goal for our Proterra Powered business,” says Gareth Joyce, Proterra CEO.

Proterra says the next step for its reorganisation under Chapter 11 is the auction for the firm’s transit — buses and financing — and energy — charging, financing, fleet and energy management and fleet electrification planning — business lines, which is scheduled to take place on 13 November.

It remains to be seen if the rescue of Proterra's battery and powertrain business might have a positive knock-on effect on Sweden's Volta Trucks. It also slumped into bankruptcy in October, citing the impact of the collapse of Proterra, which supplied its batteries.

Another Swedish-based truck maker who has been a paying customer of its newly acquired battery business could potentially be another string to add to Volvo's bow. On the other hand, it could view any move to also resurrecting Volta as cannibalising its own e-HGV plans.

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