August 27, 2010

Shareholders hear good news at UQM meeting

FREDERICK – A couple of longtime UQM Technologies Inc. shareholders spent pre-annual meeting networking time arguing the merits of the electric vehicle market. Will electric vehicles take off in the geographically sprawling United States? Will battery technology advance to overcome cost and performance barriers?

The future of electric vehicles is top of mind for most UQM shareholders, meeting this year in a cafeteria converted into meeting space at UQM’s new facility in Frederick.

The company, founded in 1967, has been designing and manufacturing electric motor elements for vehicles for decades. It helped develop and construct a hybrid electric mobile studio used by ABC Sports to broadcast the 1984 Olympic marathon event. What is new, other than the facility, is the attention and political power propelling the electric vehicle market.

UQM President Bill Rankin opened the annual meeting by pointing out that billions of dollars, in both penalties and incentives, are being used to drive the development of all-electric vehicles.

“There is no question that this has been the most exciting and significant year in the history of this company,” Rankin said to his assembled bosses.

That’s quite a statement for a company that has been around for more than 40 years, but considering the past year included a visit from the Vice President of the United States and a government grant worth more than five times its annual revenue, it’s probably an accurate one.

Looking forward, Rankin pointed to the Coda Automotive vehicle launch slated for this fall, which will bring long-term, high-volume manufacturing work to the company, work with higher margins than its historically low-volume programs.

Despite all of the recent good news, UQM continues to operate at a loss – $4.14 million in the red for the last fiscal year – and its stock continues in the doldrums. In the last year, shares jumped as high as $6.05 but have now dipped to $3.06.

Rankin, in answer to a shareholder question, said his take on the continually depressed stock is that the broad market has yet to accept the electric vehicle industry. On the other hand, the automotive industry itself seems to be on board.

UQM’s phone has been ringing with inquiries from large international manufacturers, a previously rare occurrence. The issue has been one of scalability; the big companies didn’t trust that UQM could handle a big order. Though there is but a lone UQM production line swimming in the center of its big, shiny remodeled facility, the company has the cash and the space to build out.

“As a result of the (DOE) award, we became a major player,” Rankin said.

Kristen Tatti has covered the technology industry for the Northern
Colorado Business Report for six years, but this is her last tech column.
Send any comments or story ideas to editor@ncbr.com, and join us in
wishing Kristen the best in her new career in public relations.

FREDERICK – A couple of longtime UQM Technologies Inc. shareholders spent pre-annual meeting networking time arguing the merits of the electric vehicle market. Will electric vehicles take off in the geographically sprawling United States? Will battery technology advance to overcome cost and performance barriers?

The future of electric vehicles is top of mind for most UQM shareholders, meeting this year in a cafeteria converted into meeting space at UQM’s new facility in Frederick.

The company, founded in 1967, has been designing and manufacturing electric motor elements for vehicles for decades. It helped develop and construct a hybrid electric mobile studio used by…

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