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Ener1 in Chapter 11 Despite Federal Energy Grant

Both Democrats and GOP could face political fall-out.

by on Jan.27, 2012

Ener1's finances took a serious turn for the worse when major client Think went broke last year - the Think City battery car shown here.

Ener1 Inc., the ambitious New York-based maker of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and energy storage, has filed for bankruptcy despite receiving $118 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy — and lavish-support from the Republican-controlled state of Indiana, home to one of the company’s principal factories.

The “pre-packaged” bankruptcy was filed after the company reached agreement with its primary investors and lenders on a restructuring plan “that will significantly reduce its debt and provide up to $81 million to recapitalize the company,” Ener1 officials said in a statement released after the filing.

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Though Ener1 expects to continue operating and still hopes to eventually profit as battery car demand grows its bankruptcy filing could turn into a political football with both Democrats and Republicans pointing fingers.

The company’s statement said Ener1 expected to maintain its current employment level of approximately 700 and eventually repay creditors.  It has 275 employees in Indiana.

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Think Files for Bankruptcy – Again

Maker hoping to survive latest setback.

by on Jun.23, 2011

The Think City has fallen short of sales goals.

This is an updated version of the story that first appeared on TheDetroitBureau.com on 6/22/11

Long-struggling electric vehicle maker Think Global has filed for bankruptcy – again – following the breakdown of its relationship with U.S. battery maker Ener1.

The Norwegian-based automaker had been hoping to turn its fortunes around with the launch of a new version of its little Think City battery car.  It is unclear whether the latest setback will end the company’s quixotic quest to be a major player in the global electric vehicle industry — but initial indications suggest it will be difficult to pull through the current crisis, which marks its third time in receivership in just a decade.

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The latest setback resulted from Ener1’s decision to sever its four-year relationship with Think, for whom it served as both supplier of lithium-ion batteries and a key investor following the automaker’s emergence from its previous bankruptcy.  But Ener1 management determined their investment was “impaired,” and sought to find a way to recover as much as possible, it appears.

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First Drive: Volvo C30 Electric

Lease price, $2,100 a month, should plunge when next Volvo battery car debuts.

by on Mar.28, 2011

Volvo plans to produce only about 400 of the C30 Electric coupes, but the drivetrain will soon reappear in a new mass-market battery car.

The little coupe slips out the side door of a nondescript warehouse on the fringe of Indianapolis.  Tickling the throttle it surges ahead and effortlessly merges into traffic, yet so quiet it’s easy to miss as it rushes by.  Were it not for the bright white decals on the side of the car and the chrome DRIVe badge on the back one might not even notice the Volvo C30 Electric.

But the little coupe is the latest entry in a growing revolution, the move to electric power.  Later this year, Volvo will put 400 of the C30 Electric battery cars on the road, a quarter of them here in the United States.  They’re part of a project designed to test the new technology before Volvo launches a second battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, targeting a more mainstream market.

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Getting in on the pilot program won’t be cheap.  Volvo expects to lease the C30 battery cars for a whopping 1,500 Euros a month, about $2,100 at the current exchange rate.  That’s nearly six times more than you’d pay to lease either the new Nissan Leaf BEV, or the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid.

Even then, laments Lennart Stegland, president of Volvo’s specialty vehicle subsidiary, the Swedish maker won’t come close to recovering the cost of the development program, never mind the price tag on its 24 kilowatt-hours of lithium-ion batteries.  But so it goes, he sighs, as you launch into an entirely new world of technology.

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