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EV manufacturer Proterra makes public debut on the Nasdaq

Proterra is making its public debut on the Nasdaq. Proterra Chairman and CEO Jack Allen joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss.

Video Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

JARED BLIKRE: Welcome back to Yahoo Finance. I'm Jared Blikre. Proterra, an electrifying heavy duty vehicle maker is debuting on the NASDAQ today, listing after a reverse SPAC merger. And for that, we have Jack Allen, Proterra chairman and CEO. Thank you for joining us, Jack.

And first, congratulations. And I want to ask you, this timing is really interesting because you've been around for 17 years. You have revenue. You're actually making products. What made you decide on today?

JACK ALLEN: Thanks, Jared. It's great to be here. We decided to go public at this time because the market for electric commercial vehicles is really at an incredible inflection point. We really expect it to grow rapidly through the remainder of this decade. And Proterra is positioned well to help drive that conversion to battery electric commercial vehicles.

AKIKO FUJITA: When you look at the portfolio, you already have, Jack, 600 electric buses already on the road, 130 customers. What do you plan to do with the capital raise today that allows you to go beyond your core business?

JACK ALLEN: Sure. So I mean, as you mentioned, we are an established company. We've been building battery systems and transit vehicles now for a number of years. We've demonstrated the ability to grow. Our products that are in the market. They're proven. And they're being tested.

So now, as the market grows, we will take this capital and really use it for growth. We'll grow in a number of areas. First off, we're going to need more manufacturing capacity on both the battery side and the bus side. Also, the technology of battery systems is just continuing to evolve rapidly. So we'll invest in R&D to be able to bring the next generation of battery systems to market.

And then the third is we're a big believer that the actual battery cells need to be made here in the United States for a couple of reasons. One is to have the intellectual property here. Another is to shorten the supply chain. So we're working with our partners on this front. And we're prepared to invest a significant amount of capital in order to bring battery cell manufacturing to the US and create those jobs here.

JARED BLIKRE: Well, I want to follow up on your reference to supply chains. I'm wondering if you've experienced any issues and specifically what they are with just trying to obtain some of the raw materials or even transportation. I've heard transportation costs in certain markets have skyrocketed. What's your view from the ground?

JACK ALLEN: So first to start with battery cells, we have a long-term agreement with LG Energy that we signed a number of years ago that provides us the supply we need on battery cells. So we've not experienced shortages on that front.

On the other hand, just the global supply chain impact is certainly not unknown at Proterra. We have a number of delays in the ports of getting our products in. We have raw material shortages on resins that are causing issues around even wiring harness connectors.

But all of these are temporary. We have workarounds for them. And we're producing products every day.

AKIKO FUJITA: Jack, you talk about the need to really be more self-reliant when you talk about the supply chains. Electric buses, I'm thinking about another company, BYD, of course, a Chinese company, but has really sort of doubled down in the US and built up a big presence in California, where you are as well. How do you see the competition coming from there? And when you look at the broader market, who is the biggest competitor to Proterra?

JACK ALLEN: So we operate in a number of markets today. Certainly transit is one. We're the market leader here. We've sold more battery electric vehicles than anybody else in this market. We have a first mover advantage here with our technology.

Beyond that, another key part of our business is what is called Proterra Powered, where we operate as a tier one supplier to some of the biggest commercial vehicle manufacturers in the world. Daimler and Komatsu are partners of ours. So our products go into school buses, delivery vehicles, excavators, transit buses in Australia. So we have a wide range of applications for a vehicle. And all of these end-use markets are expected to grow rapidly here over the next couple of years.

JARED BLIKRE: I want to get your take on what's happening on a couple of stories in the movie industry, specifically Nikola earlier this year, a famous short report by Hindenburg. And then more recently, Lordstown Motors, similar situation. And I'm just wondering, is there so much money that's just chasing a lot of these names that there is a potential for fraud, as you see it, in the industry? If you don't want to comment on particular companies, that's fine. But I'm just asking about your bird's eye view here, being in the industry.

JACK ALLEN: Sure. Yeah, you're right. I think it would not be appropriate for me to focus on any specific company. We certainly watch what's going on in the marketplace. But we're intently focused on delivering our mission.

And as you said, Proterra, we're an established company. We're not a pre-revenue startup. We have a significant amount of revenue. And we've demonstrated an ability to grow. Our vehicles have 20 million miles on them today. So we have tested and proven technology. It makes us different than many others.

AKIKO FUJITA: Proterra chairman and CEO Jack Allen, good to talk to you. Congratulations again.