EV start-up unplugs plan to go public

ZeroNox headquarters and warehouse located in Porterville, Calif., where the tech company says the “magic happens.”(courtesy of ZeroNox Facebook page)

Porterville-based ZeroNox and Growth For Good Acquisition Corp. mutually decide to end a merger that would have put the electric vehicle company on the stock market

PORTERVILLE – Founders of an electrical vehicle start-up are unplugging plans to become a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ.

Porterville-based ZeroNox began tinkering with farm utility vehicles to convert them to electric power in the fields of Tulare County in 2017. The key selling point was that their conversions were cheaper than replacing fleets with new vehicles. The fast-growing company had announced plans in August to merge with Growth For Good Acquisition Corporation, a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) listed on NASDAQ. Growth for Good focuses on sustainable, socially responsible companies with strong business fundamentals, high growth potential and a readiness to scale in the public markets.

The merger would have represented a value of $306 million for ZeroNox, according to a news release, but now the two companies say they mutually decided to end the merger.

“We plan to remain private at this time and continue progressing on our vision to be the preeminent partner for off-highway vehicle electrification” ZeroNox said on its Facebook page. “Our teams are excited to continue collaborating with our customers, partners, and other key stakeholders, and maintain ZeroNox’s role as a leader in clean technology solutions!”

Good for Growth announced the news to its stockholders on Sept. 12: “[T]he Agreement and Plan of Merger, dated March 7, 2023, by and among the Company, Zero Nox, Inc. and G4G Merger Sub Inc., has been terminated and that the Company is ceasing its business combination efforts.”

With 75 percent of the off-highway vehicle sector stating it will or might take steps toward electrification, Growth for Good had stated “there is a significant unmet need for ZeroNox’s products and services.”

Growth for Good noted three strengths of ZeroNox: It’s production of lithium ferro phosphate (LFP) – otherwise known as lithium-iron phosphate – batteries and Electric Powertrain Platforms (ZEPP) they announced in a news release.

They also promoted the company’s ability to distribute products to targeted, underserved areas. ZeroNox distributes through 50 dealerships with recent contracts that expand to nearly 1,500 dealerships in the U.S.

In addition to its garbage truck deal in Ghana, ZeroNox has agreements with Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), financial services company Baird, Ritz-Carlton hotel company and Universal Studios. Those include luxury shuttles for Universal Studios along with work utility vehicles. ZeroNox is one of only a few companies that develop forklifts powered by lithium-iron batteries.

Just last month, ZeroNox announced it has signed distribution agreements with E-lix Elektromobil GMBH and Chateaux Des Langues to deliver ZeroNox-powered Tuatara electric utility terrain vehicles (UTVs) across Europe. With this agreement, the two European firms will add Tuatara vehicles to their offerings for off-highway vehicle customers. Their customers will now have the option to purchase a more environmentally friendly off-highway vehicle without compromising on the performance demands required of UTVs.

“Having been raised in the Central Valley of California, (ZeroNox president) Robert (Cruess) and I returned home to build a business that would first and foremost support our community,” CEO Vonn R. Christenson said in an interview. “We are motivated to bring our neighbors – who use off-highway vehicles for work across ranches, farms and construction sites – high performing, affordable and zero emissions equipment that can help grow their businesses.”

Growth for Good held a general meeting of its shareholders to finalize the merger on Aug. 23. The combined company was set to trade under the new ticker symbol “ZNOX”, both boards of directors had approved the merger and the deal had been recognized by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The company had even held an initial public offering for the new company.

“Because the Company does not believe that it will be able to consummate a business combination within the remaining time available to it under its amended and restated memorandum and articles of association, the Company will now commence the process of liquidating its assets and winding up in accordance with applicable law,” Good for Growth stated in a news release.

Good for Growth is now in the process of liquidating the preliminary assets of the recently defunct company and redeeming all outstanding shares.

“In accordance with the Company’s amended and restated memorandum and articles of association, the Company will redeem all of the outstanding Class A ordinary shares that were included in the units issued to the public in its initial public offering,” Good for Growth stated in a news release. “The Company’s warrants and the rights included in the units issued to the public in its initial public offering will expire worthless.”

Despite ending the merger, ZeroNox is still steering toward expansion. Christenson noted that, in its goal to electrify fossil fuel fleets and produce green energy, the company is adding more jobs and buying land.

“We are in the process of closing on the purchase of our current location and three adjoining properties.  This will allow expansion of our facilities,” he said. “We are also in the process of hiring new positions.”

ZeroNox is also expanding into the world of electric motorsports. The company recently announced its partnership with NIO 333 Formula E Team in Formula E, a motorsport championship series for electric cars. The company has signed on for the next three seasons and said “you will find our ZeroNox logo on racing cars, race overalls, team apparel, and more.”

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