China accelerates electric vehicle strategy with investments in B.C. clean energy firms – by Gabriel Friedman (Financial Post – August 30, 2018)

Ballard Power Systems Inc. and Westport Fuel Systems Inc. stocks pop on the news

Randy MacEwen has made 39 separate trips to China in less than four years — an indication of how much opportunity the British Columbia-based executive sees in that country.

On Wednesday, MacEwen, who is chief executive of Burnaby-based hydrogen fuel cell maker Ballard Power Systems Inc. announced a $208 million deal that links the company’s future to China’s fast-growing clean vehicle market.

Under the deal, Weichai Power Co., one of China’s largest diesel engine manufacturers, agreed to purchase $163 million worth of Ballard’s stock at a 15 per cent premium; and to invest an additional $45 million to form a joint venture that will manufacture Ballard’s fuel cells at a plant in China, where they could end up in buses, commercial trucks and forklifts.

Separately, on Wednesday, Vancouver-based Westport Fuel Systems also announced a deal with Weichai, which agreed to purchase its components and license its technology to build 18,000 natural gas engines by 2023.

Taken together, the deals show how China is investing in a future that envisions a shift from internal combustion energy vehicles to lower-emission, clean energy vehicles. The vast scale of those investments is enticing Canadian companies to strike partnerships and form joint ventures that send their technology across the Pacific Ocean.

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