Yet Another One Bites The Dust: Miles Electric Gone Bust

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

The electric vehicle revolution has eaten another one of its children. “U.S. electric car manufacturer Miles Electric Vehicles filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection early on Tuesday, court documents showed, highlighting the difficulties faced by battery-powered vehicles in gaining wide market acceptance,” says Reuters.

TTAC has never been bullish about EVs. This has nothing to do with ideology. Cars by nature will have a very limited market as long as they take hours to fill up, are for all intents and purposes unusable beyond a 40 mile radius from your home, and are priced out of the market.

Miles Electric, founded in 2004, made headlines with the first street-legal Chinese-made automobile sold in the United States. Its ZX40 was made by FAW Tianjin, a subsidiary of Volkswagen and Toyota joint venture partner FAW.

Miles sold into one of the few niches where EVs make sense: It made what usually are called ESVs, essential services vehicles, low-speed all-electric means of transportation used in parking enforcement, security, shipping and delivery, and grounds maintenance.

There, the usage pattern matches the technology.

This small, but possibly lucrative fleet market is now pretty much left to little-known Texas-based Good Earth Inc., makers of the even lesser known FireFly electric three-wheelers that help police departments all over the U.S. put parking tickets under your wipers.

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  • AMC_CJ AMC_CJ on Jun 11, 2013

    A company like that would be a in good position, later on, to move into more main-stream vehicles. BUT, it never seems to work out like that. I've had some people come back from Georgia and comment on these communities, and whole towns, where people rely a lot of electric golf carts. Supposedly there are golf-cart parking-only spots, and golf-cart only roads. If I lived in a place like that, it would be great to have a slow speed sub-$10k electric vehicle to run around town in.

    • Bill Steege Bill Steege on Jun 11, 2013

      A lot of retirement communities already allow electric Golf Carts and similar utes to operate freely within the compounds. Many Universities and Hospital complexes also allow them. The problem comes when some of these unwitting drivers try to take their electric carts onto public roads and create havoc and mayhem interfering with normal traffic, or disrupt pedestrians driving them on the sidewalks. As far as Miles Electric biting the dust, I doubt it will be missed. Even large Zoo excursions on electric buses have been powered by Hybrid power plants taken from the Prius and retrofitted for 15mph use. Miles was just not a big player and whatever void is left by Miles' demise will be quickly filled by another existing parts supplier. Any electronics tech worth his salt can repair the electronics portion and motor rewinders can rewind the coils of the motors, in case the existing units ever need repair. I am familiar with the products from Good Earth, Inc, and they are used for more than just meter maids. I've seen them at airport parking lots, rental car lot shuttles and inside airport terminals to ferry passengers and their luggage to outlying gates. Miles may have been different in this industry but I doubt it will be missed.

  • Ydnas7 Ydnas7 on Jun 11, 2013

    Electric cars are viable and they come from real companies and are cost effective versus with their peers. Tesla may not report monthly, but its worth reviewing Tesla sales compared to other competitors of their class. Look at Nissan USA May sales, sure the LEAF is not at 1ok per month yet, but there are many Nissan trucks and cars that sell in lower volume than the LEAF. Tesla Model S is even more intriguing, Nissan brand may not consider it a competitor, but Infiniti Division sure does, and there are be dealerships for Porsche, Jag, Audi etc. who rue the success of Tesla in their locality.

  • SoCalMikester SoCalMikester on Jun 12, 2013

    Ie seen Taylor-Dunn vehicles around forever, and brief research says theyve been making Evs since 1949.

  • Wheeler Wheeler on Jun 19, 2013

    What makes Miles stand out is that it was the company that spawned Coda, the feisty EV upstart written about a lot in the automotive press, until its recent demise. Before Miles downfall, in the last ten years, there has been a slew of such struggling companies that have sourced their little "N(neighborhood)EVs in China. Tiger Trucks of Texas is one that comes to mind...Zap, Wheego, and Greetech are others.