Plug Power Inc. recently announced the acquisition of General Hydrogen Corporation, a leader in the development and commercialization of fuel cell power units that power electric lift trucks and other mobile industrial equipment. The deal, worth approximately $10 million, follows closely on Plug Power's April, 2007 acquisition of Cellex Power Products, Inc., another top supplier of fuel cell power solutions for electric lift trucks. Plug Power plans to integrate the two companies into one operation.
General Hydrogen's initial product focus has been on the larger class 1 sit-down lift trucks that are typically used in manufacturing operations. Cellex Power has focused its initial product initiatives on class 3 rider pallet trucks primarily used to transport and select goods within large distribution centers before delivery to retail stores.
Both companies are developing fuel cell power units for class 2 stand-up reach trucks, which provide flexibility and maximum floor space utilization for large distribution centers. General Hydrogen and Cellex Power are targeting the estimated USD $1.5 billion motive power market in which lead-acid batteries are the incumbent technology.
Fuel cell power units allow users to increase productivity and reduce operating costs through a quick hydrogen refueling process that eliminates the need to change batteries repeatedly throughout the day. They also eliminate the environmental and safety issues traditionally associated with lead-acid batteries.
Large lift truck fleet users typically operate at least two of the three electric lift truck classes in their warehouses and therefore require a battery handling system and associated maintenance labor to meet their throughput requirements. Having all three electric lift truck classes in its product portfolio would enable Plug Power to create a much more compelling value proposition by allowing customers to convert the motive power requirements for their entire fleets to proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell technology.
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