A recent Wall Street Journal article, "CleanTech Startups Shift Focus," featured the new center of companies being funded in the CleanTech space.
What these companies have in common is that they are not inventing new CleanTech technology; rather, they are service companies focused on making existing and available green technology work better and be more cost efficient. Flux Power Holdings, Inc. (OTCQB: FLUX) is at the forefront of the cost-effective energy storage market with their proprietary advanced energy storage systems technology. Flux is not a lithium battery development and manufacturing company. Most of the U.S. based high-tech lithium battery companies have filed for bankruptcy in 2012, primarily because their solutions were too expensive to develop and too expensive for the end user to put into a product an be price competitive. Flux purchases lithium batteries that are mass-produced for their advanced energy storage systems. The Flux hardware and software systems allow these batteries to perform at or above the performance levels of the high-tech batteries, at a fraction of the price.
Chris Anthony, CEO of Flux Power Holdings, learned about the expense and difficulties of utilizing lithium batteries the hard way, as one of the founders of Aptera, a high range in-line hybrid vehicle designed to travel hundreds of miles on a single gallon of gasoline. The battery system was the most expensive part of the vehicle, the expense of the batteries and the engineering of the battery management system both added costs to the development and the expected sales price of the vehicle. Mr. Anthony knew there was a better way to provide energy storage and set out to develop products that are easier to design, easier to implement, while providing better performance at an efficient price. Mr. Anthony was able to leverage his knowledge from Aptera and acquire other energy management systems technology, which was used as the base technology to found Flux Power Holdings, Inc. in 2009. Then he and his engineering team began developing the Flux energy storage systems and delivered their first energy storage systems to customers in 2010. Flux Power Holdings, Inc. went public through a reverse merger as a fully reporting company in the spring of 2012.
Flux is active in several markets including grid storage, solar storage, back-up power markets, Electric Vehicles and lead acid battery conversion. The market where Flux expects to gain the fastest traction with their solutions is the lead acid conversion market. There are many electrical systems and vehicles that are powered by an array of lead acid batteries. These battery arrays need considerable maintenance and most of these lead acid arrays also need to be replaced annually. This adds annual labor expenses to the overall cost of the lead acid systems. Flux is working with several manufacturers of systems that utilize lead acid arrays to design and implement lithium storage systems for new and legacy products. Flux's first product in the lead acid replacement market is for electric forklifts.
Electric forklifts are the fasting growing segment of the forklift and lift truck market. In 2011 this market grew at 34% over 2010 in China. These machines are powered by rechargeable lead acid batteries. The annual replacement market for forklift lead acid battery systems in 2007 was about $1 billion and it is expected that this market has grown to over $2 billion today. Sales of new electric forklifts in 2007 were over 300,000 units per year, and this number has grown considerable. Flux Power has a plug and play lithium energy storage solution for both the existing replacement market, as well as, the new forklift market. Flux's solution has many advantages: it lasts for 5 or more years, its cost over that time is at or below the combined cost of lead acid, it is virtually maintenance free, The forklifts have longer run times and shorter charge times, the forklifts run more efficiently and cooler, both adding to the safety of the forklift operator. Flux Power has delivered developmental test products under paid prototype contracts to Hyster-Yale Materials Handling (NYSE: HY) and Crown Equipment Corporation. Flux Power anticipates that it will be the first cost effective lithium energy storage solution with product offerings in this multi-billion dollar market by the end of 2012 or early 2013.
To facilitate Flux's entry into this lead acid replacement market and service other potential upcoming customers, management entered into a preferred battery supply agreement with Huanyu New Energy, based in Beijing, China, to supply lithium batteries to Flux for inclusion into Flux's Advanced Energy Storage Systems. Mr. Anthony said of the agreement, "This is a major step for Flux Power, as it enhances our ability to work with large customers to meet their design, delivery and quality goals while providing more technologically advanced energy storage systems to all our customers. Huanyu's products deliver consistently superior output and better energy density than any cells we have evaluated and I am confident that our customers will appreciate the added features and safety benefits that Huanyu's products bring to our advanced energy storage systems. I'm also excited to expand our relationship with Huanyu, enabling tremendous growth into new markets."
This has been a busy year for Flux Power Holdings, but it can get even better as the company moves forward in expanding their revenue potential for the current fiscal year ending in June. Flux has the potential to grow revenues and earnings rapidly, as their contracted customers begin to bring their products to market. If Flux can capture just 10% of the 2007 electric forklift market at about $10,000/storage system that would equal $300 million in revenue for Flux. If Flux can capture 10% of the annual replacement market, Flux could garner nearly $200 million more revenue annually. It may take Flux several years to get to these types of sales, but the potential is there for the Company, and management has taken steps to ensure to grow their manufacturing and supplier capacity to be able to facilitate this type of demand.
Flux management is committed to establishing their business into the market leader in the sector. If management delivers on their expectations, the valuation of Flux will increase substantially. Investors should be watching for announcement from the company that signals further penetration into their existing markets, including the electric vehicle market and the lead acid battery replacement market. Investors may want to begin building a position at these levels and add to that position as the company performs on their plan. The supply agreement for cost effective lithium batteries could be the signal that this business is about to take off.
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