Hyzon hits the road

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In early 2021, Hyzon Motors, a manufacturer of commercial vehicles propelled by hydrogen fuel cells, became the latest owner of a former General Motors fuel cell research facility in Honeoye Falls.

The arrival of Hyzon, one of a wave of alternative fuel startups powered by climate anxiety and in some cases massive federal subsidies, was greeted with fanfare—then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that Hyzon would be creating 100 jobs over the next three years.

The planned $8 million expansion here received a package of state and local assistance. Empire State Development awarded $1.6 million in Excelsior Job Credits. The Monroe County Industrial Development Agency approved a payment-in-lieu-of-tax agreement that conferred property, sales and mortgage recording tax exemptions with a value estimated at $383,000 over 10 years (with future sums discounted at 2 percent).

Three years later, Hyzon has exited Monroe County. On April 1, the company finalized a sale of its Honeoye Falls property to Fulcrum Holdings—a transaction valued at $3,125,000 in a November filing that disclosed the deal—and listed its headquarters as Bolingbrook, Ill.

While the move dashed any remaining hopes that Hyzon would become a local success story, taxpayers lost little on the venture. As no jobs were created, Hyzon received no benefits from EDC. The COMIDA package included a sales tax exemption, of which the company drew down $19,040 from interior renovations, but paid the full property tax bill to local governments.

While based in Honeoye Falls, the company never got out of first gear. As reported in the Beacon, troubles mounted after short seller Blue Orca released a blistering report in September 2021 describing Hyzon as “just a repackaging of a flailing Chinese parent company which has been trying to sell the same hydrogen fuel cells without much success for 17 years.” The following months brought shareholder class-action litigation and a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation.

In August 2022, the company disclosed possible accounting irregularities and ousted CEO and cofounder Craig Knight. Last September, Hyzon settled with the SEC, agreeing to pay a $25 million fine.

In March, Hyzon reported its 2023 financial results, posting a net loss of $184 million on revenue of $295,000. However, Chief Financial Officer Stephen Weiland noted, the company had four consecutive quarters of “declining (cash) burn, showing our continued focus on prudent cash and capital management while driving our technology and commercialization progress forward.”

It may take quite a bit more to impress investors. Hyzon’s stock closed Friday at 58 cents, down from more than $16 a share in February 2021.

Kent Gardner is Rochester Beacon opinion editor. The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected]

One thought on “Hyzon hits the road

  1. Getting out of second gear is difficult when the car never ran in the first place. They never had the opportunity to even push in the clutch pedal. And so it goes. This nation will be brought down to its knees with the mismanaged climate change responses. In order to address the larger issue one needs to begin the process at its foundation. That would be sidewalks and bicycle paths, mass transportation that actually services the population and enough “pumps” to keep the electric vehicles on the road with clean energy. We are a long way from that. What is clearly visible is placing the cart before the horse. Look it up, it simply means doing things in the wrong order.

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