Blogging Bayport Alameda

January 14, 2015

The Wrightspeed stuff

Filed under: Alameda, Alameda Point, Business, Development — Lauren Do @ 6:04 am

Speaking of the West End succeeding — and not yet seceding — Alameda and Alameda Point in particular has quietly been adding to the list of really interesting companies that have “found” Alameda.   We all know about Makani Power (acquired by Google) and Sila Nanotechnology (which is a stone’s throw from Target), but at last Tuesday’s City Council meeting, the new City Council was asked to okay a deal with another innovative company: Wrightspeed.   According to the founded of Wrightspeed, who spoke at that City Council meeting, he’d been in talks with the City for a few months for the perfect Alameda Point space.

The lease that was approved by the City Council (in the first reading) is another one of those sweet deals that City staff puts together that takes the negative that is the existing buildings and helps to create an incentive for companies to relocate out there. According to the lease terms, the annual rent for the space is $563,952 for the first year, after that there is a 3% escalation every year thereafter.  This is a seven year lease with two-five year options, but also an option for Wrightspeed to purchase the building during the first five years after the Navy conveys the building to Alameda for $8 million.

As the building has more than $2 million in repairs required, the City is offering a dollar for dollar credit for capital improvements into the building made by Wrightspeed.  However the total credit cannot exceed three years of rent, so fairly close to the amount of required repairs.   This is a great way of (1) getting the building fixed up and (2) having the business really invested in the building because they have been able to customize the building for the same amount that it would cost to lease a space.

According to the staff report, Wrightspeed “found” Alameda through Makani Power.

Wrightspeed, by the way, was founded by one of the co-founders of Tesla Motors and Wrightspeed is still in the electrical vehicle world, but working with slightly different vehicles.  Actually, Wrightspeed reminded me a lot of another Alameda Point tenant, Complete Coach Works which takes older buses and retrofits them with alternative fuel technology, including electrical.   Wrightspeed builds electrical powertrains for trucks.  From the BBC:

Wright’s weapon of mass deconstruction? A plug-in electric powertrain that turns gas-guzzling vehicles – lumbering garbage trucks, big delivery rigs and the like – into fuel-sippers. The vehicles also run cleaner, as measured in emissions per kilowatt hour, than conventional electric cars that rely on electricity produced by traditional public power stations.

The secret sauce in Wrightspeed’s medium-duty electric powertrain – called the Route – is a tiny gas turbine. This microturbine, which functions not unlike those found in jet engines, spins a generator that then feeds the batteries. Kinetic energy captured under braking also is fed into the batteries. The microturbine can run on diesel, biofuel or compressed natural gas. Meanwhile stout electric motors mounted to four drive wheels provide the motivation. The Route system employs geared-traction drive, comprising a two-speed gearbox with clutchless shifting that delivers 125 to 250 continuous horsepower and 18,000 pound-feet of total axle torque. Top speed for a medium-duty rig running the Route? A peppy 75mph.

Another benefit is in the regenerative braking that helps to “save” on brake wear as well.

Wrightspeed is estimating an additional 150 new jobs to Alameda, they are currently located in San Jose.

Here’s some interesting slides from the City’s presentation including all the leased buildings at Alameda Point and a representation of some of the businesses at Alameda Point:

mapleased AlamedaPoint



  1. I heard 350 employees at Wrightspeed during the presentation at City a Hall last week!

    I guess this is good news but with the addition of 350 high paid employees the prce of housing in Alameda just went up by $75,000.00.

    So much for affordable housing in our fair city.

    Comment by Tom — January 14, 2015 @ 8:30 am

  2. If houses are selling, they are affordable. They couldn’t sell if they weren’t.

    Comment by dave — January 14, 2015 @ 8:36 am

  3. 1. If the Site A development is approved, the new employees will have plenty of choices starting on the adjacent block, which will include 200 affordable units.

    Comment by Richard Bangert — January 14, 2015 @ 9:01 am

  4. Yahoo for everything.

    Comment by linda — January 14, 2015 @ 7:38 pm

  5. 1. with Oakland as growing tech hub the gradual increase in property values is inevitable anyhow, at least until we hit another correction of some kind. Meanwhile people who abhor traffic want jobs , jobs, jobs at the Point so Wrightspeed is pretty fantastic. Without new development we have fewer affordable units, but without some new units, a lot those 350 people are going to be commuting through the tubes. It’s a bit of a conundrum, but are people really complaining about wanting it both ways?.

    2. houses are affordable to those who can afford them, but your very libertarian view point does not take in to account those of us with stagnant wages who, if we do own homes, it is only because of when we purchased them. In today’s dollars, it would be very difficult for us to purchase the house we live in. The solution to all this is what? No development at all? No Wrightspeed, no new restaurants, turn Starland music back in to the old “Silver Building”? The old guard like Pat Bail even fought the development of Rythmics. Here in Alameda “we don’t do that live/work stuff!”

    The letter in today’s Sun ( an op ed) complaining about the intersection of Clinton at Oak called for a four way stop or speed bumps, but also speculated about how development exacerbates the traffic problem. That intersection is a block from my home and I know it too well, but the problem has existed since we moved here 25 years ago. The solution would actually be to remove 8 parking spaces around the intersection for visibility. God forbid! Oak is also impossibly narrow, the intersection sucks, but that condition exists at many other locations around the island. People drive too fast (35), especially winging off Park on to Clinton, but a lot of us also insist on driving very large vehicles, yet driving them like they are a Prius.

    Oh, also, I did drove around the Landing about a week ago and found it bewildering. Comparatively, the sidewalk at Southshore parallel to Otis, but behind the buildings which front Otis, was a late add on by planning board, specifically Anne Cook among others. I seldom walk the entire length east to west, but having it as an island for pedestrian safety is essential. Can’t imagine walking the lot without it, yet it wasn’t included in the initial design. I’m assuming this planning board got that stuff right at the Landing, ped crossing to In-N-Out etc.

    Comment by MI — January 15, 2015 @ 9:45 am

  6. “The solution to all this is what?”

    Build government housing down to the mean. Move everybody into identical structures, size depending on number in family. That takes wealth out of the equation and everything is affordable. Works neverytime it’s been tried.

    Comment by jack — January 15, 2015 @ 10:32 am

  7. #5, re: the South Shore sidewalk, it would not exist but for the strong and long advocacy of Susan Decker, Michael Krueger and Audrey Lord-Hausman through Pedestrian Friendly Alameda (Now Bike Walk Alameda) and their own personal advocacy. They sat through years of meetings, produced numerous photos and presentations of people dodging cars while walking int he street and pushed back time and time again against former staff members who said there was no way it could be done because of the need for parking. Ann Cook and others played a key role in using the lever of design review to force the issue and lo and behold it was but in without the loss of a single parking space and without taxpayer funding. In our family, we refer to the sidewalk as the Decker-Krueger thru-way…or at least I do, but I’m sure it’ll catch on someday.

    Comment by jkw — January 15, 2015 @ 12:52 pm

  8. What’s the point of the video? Kid looks like he’s doing ok.

    Comment by jack — January 15, 2015 @ 3:12 pm

  9. I was excited to see Wright Speed become a new tenant at the Point. With them they are bringing 300 + employees. It’s important that we are able to provide housing for the new businesses that re-locate to Alameda and I’m happy to see Site A at Alameda Point coming to the council for their review.

    Comment by Karen Bey — January 18, 2015 @ 12:18 pm

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