Back in April I wrote about Amazon’s efforts to secure forklift technology that would require less downtime than battery powered machines. To that end, Amazon purchased fuel cell technology from Plug Power. Fuel cell driven forklifts are perfect for warehouse environments because they have none of the emissions of gasoline powered machines, but no long charging times either. To refuel, they simply fill up with hydrogen, and drive back out on the floor for more work.
At the same time Amazon was negotiating its supply deal with Plug Power, Wal-Mart was making its own. Sarah Nassauer reports that under the deal:
Wal-Mart will roll out Plug Power’s fuel cells for forklifts and warehouse vehicles to 10 distribution centers this year, an investment the manufacturer valued at $80 million. Wal-Mart is already Plug Power’s biggest customer, with 5,500 of the company’s units in 22 warehouses.
In April, Amazon agreed to spend $70 million on Plug Power’s products and received rights to buy as many as 55.3 million shares in the company, a 19% stake.
Wal-Mart will receive warrants to purchase the exact same number of shares, though its initial price will be higher than Amazon’s because Plug Power’s stock price has risen 63% since announcing its Amazon deal. Wal-Mart’s potential stake is 17%, Mr. Marsh said.
The warrants vest based on how much the two retailers spend on Plug Power’s products and services. Wal-Mart and Amazon would need to spend $600 million each for all their warrants to vest.
Plug Power sells fuel cells as an alternative to lead-acid batteries. Through a chemical reaction, fuel cells convert natural gas, hydrogen or other gases into electricity. Traditional batteries need to be changed more often and the process is slower than recharging a forklift powered by fuel cells, Plug Power executives say.
Read more here.