CMA 2022 Preview: Energy Transportation Manufacturer of the Year

By Eric Peterson | Mar 28, 2022

Energy & Environment Colorado

Energy/transportation manufacturers led the manufacturing charge in Colorado in 2021, with two standouts -- Lightning eMotors and Solid Power -- going public as the state's leading industry ecosystem continued to scale and mature. Rubadue Wire rounds out the group of finalists for Energy Transportation Manufacturer of the Year at the 2022 Colorado Manufacturing Awards.

Lightning eMotors (Loveland)

Photo courtesy Lightning eMotors

Lightning eMotors truly came of age in 2021 as the manufacturer of electric vans, buses, shuttles, ambulances and cargo vehicles celebrated an IPO and its growth trajectory surged skyward.

"One of the things we talk about a lot is obviously going public, not just because of the ticker parade, but just as importantly, it gave us a platform in terms of people knowing who we are, so we have a much bigger bullhorn or platform to speak from," says CEO Tim Reeser. "It also gave us the capital to really accelerate the business and execute. This is historically a capital-intensive world and it was a lot of work to do it as a private company."

As the company continues to scale, Reeser sees demand intensifying by the day due to shifting mindsets. "Historically, fleets never had to think about where their energy came from," he says. "In today's world, all that's come to light. People want to talk about: 'How green is the energy? Where did that electron come from? Did it come from a solar panel? Did it come from a natural gas generator? Did it come from a coal-fired power plant?'"

CompanyWeek profile (July 2020): https://companyweek.com/article/lightning-systems

Solid Power (Louisville)

Solid Power
Photo courtesy Solid Power

Solid Power has been developing a better solid-state battery for more than a decade, but 2021 was an especially momentous year.

Subsequent to a $136 million Series B led by Ford and BMW in May, Solid Power expanded its joint development agreement with both automakers, then went public via a SPAC deal in December.

Now with more than 100 employees, the company is now building a factory in Thornton, Colorado, to expand its manufacturing capacity by 25X by the end of 2022 as its technology enters the automotive qualification stage. The sulfide-based solid electrolytes manufactured in Colorado could enter the supply chain with battery manufacturers as soon as 2026. "That material is essentially the secret sauce, if you will, for our solid-state battery technology," says Will McKenna, Solid Power's marketing communications director.

McKenna says Colorado is a great home for the company for several reasons. "We have a wide array of talent coming from the universities and national labs," he says. "The people in Colorado are very mission-oriented, very gritty, very hardworking, and also patient. The battery technology we're developing is not an overnight home run."

CompanyWeek profile (January 2018): https://companyweek.com/article/solid-power

Wire Experts Group / Rubadue Wire (Loveland)

Rubadue Wire
Photo by Jonathan Castner

President Sean Toland says 2021 wasa boom year for Rubadue Wire, also nominated for Industrial/Equipment Manufacturer of the Year at the 2022 CMAs. "Growth has been the highlight for us," says Toland. "Both from capital expansion and bookings, business is going strong."

The company's insulated litz wire is driving a lot of the growth in applications in onboard systems and charging stations for electric vehicles. Toland forecasts that sales into the EV market will grow by 80-plus percent in 2022 after an uptick of more than 70 percent in 2021. "That's certainly been the fastest-growing portion of our business," says Toland. "Medical and industrial controls are up as well, but our service to the electric vehicle market is quite explosive."

The differentiator is quality, he adds, as Rubadue uses high-grade, heat-resistant plastics and hits notably tight tolerances. "Our wire tests a higher-voltage withstand than our competition," says Toland. "Our manufacturing processes and intellectual property within those processes makes it a much better product.

CompanyWeek profile (March 2021): https://companyweek.com/article/rubadue-wire

The winners of the 2022 Colorado Manufacturing Awards will be revealed on April 7 in Denver. The event is open to all Colorado business enthusiasts and stakeholders. REGISTER HERE for the 2022 CMA Winners Reveal & Gala.