After outfitting Ford F-250 and F-350 trucks with their patented natural gas engines, Vancouver’s Westport Innovations (TSX:WPT) is moving on to the big boys.
The company this morning announced that, midway through next year, it will introduce natural gas powered versions of the Ford F-450 and F-550 Super Duty trucks.
John Lapetz, Vice President, North America Vehicle Programs, Westport LD. said the decison comes on the heels of success with Ford. “”The timing is right,” he said, adding: Our CNG bifuel systems for Ford F-250 and F-350 trucks have been very well received and as a result, our customers are making increasing requests for customized options and natural gas trucks with higher gross weights,”
The trucks will be built at the Westport Kentucky Integration Center. Westport opened the facility, which is capable of installing up to 20,000 systems per year and is located directly across the street from Ford’s truck plant in Louisville, this past summer.
Westport LD (Light Duty) is a subsidiary of Westport Innovations that offers natural gas and liquified petroleum engines, fuel systems and components for light duty cars and trucks. The company has already partnered with Cummins, Volkswagon, Fiat and Hyundai, and employs sixty people at a similar plant in Plymouth Michigan.
Westport Innovations grew out of a research project at the University of British Columbia’s Mechanical Engineering Department. A professor there, Philip Hill, was developing a concept called high pressure direct injection (HPDI) of natural gas. In 1994, Hill met current Westport CEO David Demers. The following year, with HPDI technology as its principal strategic asset, Westport Innovations was formed. Today, the company boasts a market capitalization of more than $1.7-billion, has attracted legendary investor George Soros as its largest single shareholder, and has created valuable partnerships with some of the world’s largest engine and vehicle manufacturers, such as Volvo, Kenworth, and Cummins.
At press time, shares of Westport Innovations on the TSX were up 1.6% to $27.02.