By on September 19, 2013

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EV charging system maker Ecotality has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from its creditors, saying that it wants to sell its assets in an auction. The Associated Press is reporting that Ecotality might be forced to sell or file for bankruptcy after the U.S. government suspended payments as part of the Department of Energy EV Project. Ecotality, based in San Francisco, makes charging and power-storage systems for electric vehicles under the Blink and Minit Charger. It also makes charging stations for Nissan’s Leaf brands, and provides testing services for government agencies, auto makers and utilities. The company now says that it would prefer to sell its assets through a court approved bankruptcy auction.

Ecotality has received funding from the state of California and the federal governments of Australia and the United States, including more than $100 million in funding from the Department of Energy since 2009. The Energy Department suspended payments to Ecotality last month after the company said that it might not be able to find new financing to meet benchmarks demanded by the DoE program.
Ecotality lost $9.6 million in 2012 on $54.7 million in revenue, an improvement over its $22.5 million loss in 2011. However, the charging station maker said in a SEC filing in August that it was not selling sufficient commercial products to sustain operations through the end of 2014. The company had recently announced that due to “unacceptable performance” during testing it would not release a new industrial Minit Charger as scheduled. If all that bad news was not enough, Ecotality is also facing an investor lawsuit based on allegations of failing to meet federal securities laws.

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36 Comments on “EV Charging Station Maker Ecotality Files For Ch. 11 Bankruptcy, Potential Asset Sale...”


  • avatar
    carguy

    If this ends in an asset sale, wouldn’t it be a chapter 7 bankruptcy?

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Yet another example of how government money goes to people who know how to get government money at the expense of everyone else.

    • 0 avatar
      aristurtle

      The DoE loan program has a success rate that most venture capital firms would commit murder to achieve. But, of course, only the failures make the news.

      • 0 avatar
        darkwing

        Loan guarantees are a small fraction of the special treatment the feds are extending to these “technologies of the future” — of course they’re going to be superficially more successful than private-sector companies that live and die by their own merits in the open market.

        It’s a huge thumb pushing down on the scale.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Talking about the success rate of DoE loans in the context of venture capital displays a fundamental ignorance of what VC does. They accept a low success rate because they benefit many times over on any success. They don’t get a fraction of a point of real interest on successes. They get several hundred percent of what they put in. The DoE can only lose or draw. The taxpayer can never win.

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          The taxpayer wins if we get a new business out of it, with jobs and profits.

          Or if some other useful goal is achieved.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            There is no winning from fake businesses built to suck up subsidies and divert resources from productive purposes while misleading the easily manipulated into believing that there are better ways of allocating resources than free markets.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            Except the taxpayer who gets put out of business by the competitor with lower cost of capital, crappier products, higher prices, etc.

            Add to the victim list all the customers and investors and employees who get to suffer along with the entrepreneur/business owner.

            Oh wait, let’s add the guys wanting to loan or invest with the companies in the industry not high on government cheese.

            I don’t give my taxes to the government so they can interfere in the market. They have practically killed general aviation with meddling, subsidies, class warfare, tax policies, and I could go on. I closed my business. Don’t get me started on the banks.

            It’s very rare that good ideas can’t find backers. Leave investing to the investors and stop threatening to redistribute their gains. Regulate against people making money without adding value instead.

          • 0 avatar
            VoltOwner

            “Except the taxpayer who gets put out of business by the competitor with lower cost of capital, crappier products, higher prices, etc.”

            Non sequitur. It’s the higher prices that ran this company out of business, despite their subsidy sucking ways.

            In their place is a small company that went open-source and undercut all the major players by simply selling kits that you can build yourself. You can even replace the guts of one of the many startups that tried and failed to get into the EVSE business if their orphaned product ever fails. Even the little “trickle chargers” that come with most EV’s can be easily upgraded (to 120-240V auto switching) or repaired by the open-source guy’s product, so you don’t need to toss the expensive cables and case if it fails out of warranty.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            Sorry, Volt, did you intend to say that my comment was a non sequitur, or that you were about to throw one out yourself?

            My comment was a response to Kixstart, and wasnt about any particular business. My point was that even when the program works as intended it is a net loss for the country.

            Your comment backs up my point. The government picked a loser when the market was supporting your open source winner. My list of losers is correct in this specific case even when the market chose the winner because its almost certain that non subsidized competitors were hurt by the loan, even though they won in the end.

  • avatar

    One by one the dominoes of Government subsidized/commanded/mandated Electric Vehicles begin to fall. Nobody wants EV at the prices they are trying to push them on the public.

    Make an EV that costs $30,000 and is the size of the Chevy Malibu/Sonata/Camry/Accord, or an EV that’s the size of the 201 Impala for $45,000 and then we’ll talk.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      It’s imperative that we reduce GHGs and the transportation fleet is a good place to start. Subsidies on charge points and vehicles are more politically palatable than a $4/gallon tax on gas (or equivalent on diesel/NG/whatever), which is too bad because the tax would be more effective.

      So, subsidies are what we do.

      By the way, a Leaf has interior volume identical to a Malibu and it starts at under $30K.

    • 0 avatar
      CarPerson

      We will only talk *AFTER* I no longer have to manually plug in that damn thing each and every night for the rest of my life!

      Electric industrial equipment such as fork lifts and automatic guided vehicles (AGVs) park over a designated square painted on the floor and charging happens overnight with nothing more from me than parking it within the painted box.

      I absolutely refuse to screw around with your charging cable every night for the rest of my life. Total refusal.

      Until someone invents “hands-free charging”, please don’t call.

      Sorry.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        You know, I might spend 5 seconds every morning and 5 seconds every evening handling a charger cable for my Leaf. I’ll bet you spend more time than that staring at a microwave every day. Wireless charging remains expensive.

        • 0 avatar
          VoltOwner

          Yeah, I’m sooo bummed at having to spend an ENTIRE hour each year plugging and unplugging my Volt. I really miss driving 3 miles and then waiting in line to buy gas. It’s so much fun to have to stand out there in the freezing cold pumping gas! Or the scorching heat, that’s nice too. My fave, though is high winds! Having those little drops from the hose go flying all about, getting everywhere. It’s really nice coming home and smelling the gas on your hands and clothes when that happens. I do get to go buy gas once a year though, so I’m not completely shut out of the experience. Come to think about it, it’s been only a month since my last trip to buy 3 gallons for next year, so I’m still glowing from the excitement of the trip…

          But of course, you can get wireless now if you want to pay for it. Got a mailer the other day. Something like $3K-$5K including the pad and the mods to the car. I guess for the clueless with too much money it makes sense. How’s it go? More money than sense. That’s it.

        • 0 avatar
          Garak

          Living in a colder climate, I have to plug in the car every damn day in the winter. It’s slightly annoying, especially if you forget to plug it in and find the car a frozen, lifeless lump the next time you try to start it. And I’m talking about combustion engines here, not EVs.

          I doubt it’s impossible to design some way to automate plugging in cars.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        >> I absolutely refuse to screw around with your charging cable every night for the rest of my life. Total refusal.

        >>Until someone invents “hands-free charging”, please don’t call.

        I agree. In fact I’m keeping my horse until someone comes up with a hands-free gas station. I don’t want to bother wasting time, pulling off of the road into a glorified convenience store, swiping my credit card, then standing in the freezing cold pumping gas.

        Then again, with a Tesla I’d only have to plug it in maybe three times a month.

        • 0 avatar

          TECHNICALLY, it takes the same amount of effort and time to “plug-in” the car as it does to “put-in” the gas nozzle. Furthermore, you wouldn’t be charging the car daily – it would be done at the end of your range. Just like you do now.

          My only problems with EV’s are the range limitations and the premium prices. They are STROKE JOBS for the rich. Obviously I’m talking specifically about the Model S and Karma.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            Why wouldn’t you plug in every time you arrive home? Why would you leave the house with anything other than a full charge? If you run the car down to minimum and then discover you want to go 50 or 60 miles… you’ve got a long wait ahead of you before you can take off.

            Life is uncertain, I prefer to be prepared.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            >> They are STROKE JOBS for the rich.

            Look, I can’t speak for all “rich” people, but some people that are doing well financially got there by accomplishing things that give them far more recognition than any car ever possibly could. Believe it or not, some people actually buy things just because they want them and don’t care if it impresses someone.

          • 0 avatar

            Once again, the problem is range. What if you leave home with a FULLY CHARGED Model S and your college-kid in another state calls you in an emergency and you suddenly need to drive 300 miles to get to them? The model S even at full charge will fall about 30 miles short of 300 miles.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            “What if you leave home with a FULLY CHARGED Model S and your college-kid in another state calls you in an emergency and you suddenly need to drive 300 miles to get to them?”

            I suppose I’d stop somewhee along the way and recharge or I’d take my other car.

            That was difficult, wasn’t it?

          • 0 avatar
            RJM

            If the 300 mile trip was a real emergency, I’d pay for a plane ticket.
            If I have 5 hours to drive there, I have time to drive home and tell the wife she has to drive the Tesla, and I’m going to drive her minivan with Cheerios scattered all over the back seat; the kids are not allowed to eat Cheerios in my Tesla.

    • 0 avatar
      rolosrevenge

      Plenty of people seem to want a Model S at the price of the Model S. But their target demographic were paying that much for their cars anyhow.

  • avatar
    JD321

    It is imperative that we increase atmospheric CO2 since the current 350 PPM level is FAR too low for biological life to flourish. 350 PPM is also the lowest CO2 level ever recorded on Earth. In order to rid Earth land mass of ice and desert, the atmospheric CO2 level needs to be about 4000 PPM. EV transportation can help but only if electrical current is generated using HCs like coal and natural gas…the process also blows a lot of particulate crap and radioactive material into the air. The real problem is that ExxonMobil can recharge a 600 mile range car in about 2 minutes. That is by FAR a greater human value than shoving electrons into a chemical goo.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      Source?

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/09/09/arctic-sea-ice-up-60-percent-in-2013/

        I’m sure some choad will dismiss this as a Fox story, but the funny thing is that you can find the same people that predicted an arctic-ice-free 2013 attributing the amazing ice growth to…AGM. At this point it is a matter of dogma. People should be embarrassed to have ever fallen for it, instead of refusing to put down the shovels they’re burying themselves with.

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          Choad?

          In any event, yes, it’s a crap story. Arctic ice is certainly up significantly over last year’s record minimum. For a variety of reasons, in addition to temperature, ice extent and area vary from year to year. Take a look at the 30 year picture and see how significant this “recovery” is.

          Arctic ice loss, by the way, is one of the positive feedbacks. Open water will absorb heat that high albedo ice would reflect.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            It’s a crap story to report that there is 60% more ice than last year and that the charlatans pulling your strings predicted the ice would be gone instead? Reality sucks, if you’re a puppet. Letting people that are wrong constantly influence human existence with their faulty ideas is asinine.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            Yes, it’s a crap story. Our summer ice minimum, by volume, is about 20% of what it was 3 or 4 decades ago. This “recovery” is a tiny fraction of that and it’s not likely to continue.

            A couple of scientists got the exact date of the culmination of some complex phenomena wrong? Golly! That sure overturns decades of well understood science and 100 years of trends!

            Not.

  • avatar
    ash78

    Left, down, right, left, down, right, X, X, Square

    ECOTALITY!!!!

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    EV chargers are a commodity, which is why I bought a Schneider Electric charger for $750 for my Leaf, rather than pay $2k for the official Nissan charger.

    I don’t know what this company’s problems were, but I’d guess they died due to old-fashioned competition. The Leaf is the best-selling EV, so I think they’re just making excuses. Bosch now has a charger for $350.

    • 0 avatar
      VoltOwner

      Yeah what killed Ecotality was that they tried to take the DOE money AND take MORE money from Leaf buyers. Horror stories about huge install estimates, followed by buyers realizing that they could just get their supplied 120V unit upgraded to 120-240V cheaper, and not have to install anything except a 240V outlet, or just plug into their existing dryer outlet. Tons of the rival Aerovironment Nissan branded stations ended up on ebay when they were unable to sell them to Leaf buyers, I ended up with one of those. Put a welder plug on it, good to go.

      Same thing happened with SPX, who were handling Volts. You’d get an electrician to come out and estimate the job, and when it came back it was double or triple what the job was actually worth. Only good thing was that SPX was told to sell a VolTec branded station to Volt owners with no questions asked for $495. Same deal, put a plug on it, or have your local electrician wire it direct, good to go.


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