Vancouver-based cleantech player Westport Innovations (TSX:WPT) today announced it has signed agreements with Caterpillar to co-develop natural gas technology for off-road equipment, including mining trucks and locomotives.
Caterpillar spokesman Steve Fisher says the company hopes to be a leader in natural gas and plans to offer a full line of natural gas machines and equipment using Westport’s high-pressure direct-injection (HPDI) technology.
Shares of Westport were up significantly on the news today, providing welcome relief for shareholders who have watched the company’s stock slide from more than $48 in March to recent lows near $23. The company’s revenue is climbing; its recently reported Q1, 2012 saw topline numbers rise 132% to $88.6-million from just $38.1-million in the same period last year. But Westport is still losing money, Q1’s loss of $22.6-million (U.S.) was typical of recent quarters.
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Westport CEO David Demers, however, says the Caterpillar deal is significant for the company: “We are working with the global leader in engines, locomotives and off-road equipment to develop an attractive natural gas offering for their customers” he said in a press release today, adding: “The substantial price difference between natural gas and diesel fuel is resulting in a strong financial incentive to enable off-road applications to take advantage of low natural gas energy costs without sacrificing operational performance. There is also a clear environmental incentive because of the reduced carbon emissions. Adding to the solid business case for this program is the potential to convert existing field units to natural gas — opening up a whole new market opportunity.”
At press time, shares of Westport Innovations on the TSX were up 21.3% to 28.08.