ALTe Named to Forbes List of America’s Most Promising Companies

12/5/11Follow @XconomyDET

Last week, Forbes magazine announced that Auburn Hills, MI-based ALTe Powertrain Technologies, developer of the first range-extended plug-in hybrid electric vehicle powertrain for light commercial fleet applications,  made its list of America’s most promising companies. ALTe is one of only three companies listed in the Capitol Goods industry category, the only hybrid technology company, and the only company from Michigan.

“We’re ecstatic, but we’re also humbled,” says John Thomas, CEO of ALTe. “It’s rare that a pre-revenue startup gets attention of this magnitude from such a prestigious publication.”

To determine which companies made the list, Forbes enlisted CB Insights, a New York City-based data firm that tracks investment in high-growth private companies, and its Mosaic software, which helps lenders and investors allocate capital more efficiently. Mosaic created an algorithm by pulling data from 30,000 sources, including court filings, press releases, news articles, and social media, and used the algorithm to create a score that measures a company’s potential. Forbes then took the Mosaic scores and combined them with “old-fashioned reporting” to create the list of most promising companies. [CB Insights also provides the data behind Xconomy's companies database.]

ALTe’s series of significant announcements in 2011 no doubt contributed to their placement on the Forbes list. These announcements included a long-term supply agreement with battery maker A123 and electric motor supplier Remy, a preferred installer partnership with vehicle remarketer Manheim, a collaborative effort with Pacific Gas & Electric Company to test their technology on PG&E’s fleet of trucks, and a joint venture with Inmatech to produce and sell hybrid electric storage devices.

Thomas says he’s not worried at all about A123′s recent announcement of layoffs because he’s looking forward to getting the focus of their resources. Thomas’ optimism extends to the electric vehicle market as a whole, regardless of what appears to be a slower-than-expected response from consumers despite relatively high customer satisfaction.

“We’re confident, because we’re being told by our customers that we have the right plug-in technology,” Thomas says. “The lack of battery-charging infrastructure and concerns for range—all those things add up to a need for range-extended powertrains. We offer comfort to consumers.”

I spoke to Thomas as he was packing to leave for China, his second time visiting the country in less than four weeks.

“We’re absolutely engaged in business opportunities for both domestic Chinese consumption and export,” Thomas says. “China has embraced our technology even more so than the United States.”

Sarah Schmid is the editor of Xconomy Detroit. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET

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