IN FOCUS: WESTPORT FUEL SYSTEMS AND ITS LONG-TERM STRATEGIC OUTLOOK AND DRIVERSThe alphaDIRECT Insight
The market and industry for natural gas and other gaseous fuel systems technologies are at a critical point as the world is starting to recognize the urgent need to decarbonize the transportation sector. Westport Fuel Systems has a strong global presence and a leading market share both internationally and domestically through its CWI joint venture. As the market consists of almost 1.4 billion cars and trucks, the shift to decarbonization will take a significant amount of time, in our view. However, we believe Westport is well-positioned with its broad portfolio of products that offers a comprehensive set of capabilities and the company possesses the unique ability to transform existing diesel and gasoline vehicles to run on natural gas or propane.
Shawn Severson: First, I’d like to thank you, David, for taking the time to speak with us today. The last time that we spoke with Westport Fuel Systems, we discussed your independent after-market business and delayed OEM solutions. Today, our focus will be on your long-term strategic outlook and market drivers. However, let’s begin by having you provide a brief summary of your background and what brought you to Westport Fuel Systems for those who are new to the company.
David Johnson: Thanks, Shawn. It’s a pleasure to be speaking with you today and a pleasure to update and inform investors and the alphaDIRECT network. I started in the automotive industry basically from birth since my family had a car dealership in upstate New York and I spent every moment I could there.
After getting my engineering and business degrees, I was lucky enough to get a job with Ford, which was a good fit for me since my family owned a Ford dealership. I spent 13 great years at Ford developing products, product strategy, and business plans and bringing new products to market. I was also working with quality improvements. A passion of mine has always been developing and delivering high quality value-added products for the customer.
Following my 13 years at Ford, I had a chance to join General Motors and move my family to Germany where I worked on improving the efficiency and cleanliness of powertrains primarily for the European market. At General Motors, I had the opportunity to join forces with great automotive companies like Isuzu and Fiat, who were partners with General Motors during that time.
Following my stint in Germany I came back to the U.S. and went to work for the truck maker, Navistar, in Chicago. We were seeking to grow the sales of our existing and modified products to markets around the world such as South Africa, Russia, Australia and other far-reaching places, including India and China. This was really a great opportunity for me to be further introduced to global markets and understand customer needs in different segments including the military market.
For the last decade, I had a chance to run a startup company named Achates Power in San Diego, California. Achates had, from my perspective, a similar DNA, if you will, to the original Westport Innovations. The opportunity to move from Achates Power to Westport Fuel Systems was driven by two important events; the merger between Westport Innovations and Fuel System Solutions and the commercialization of our high pressure direct injection (HPDI) technology. It’s a real game changing product that has the ability to address the two critical drivers of sustainability in the transport space: economic viability/cost competiveness and environmental benefits.
I think for me, joining Westport Fuel Systems at this time was great because it is really a pivotal moment in the marketplace and a pivotal time for our company. I’m very happy to be here and bring what I can to the company.