Ecotality Trading Suspended, Electric-Car Charging Network To Release News?

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ECOtality Blink DC fast charger plugged in

ECOtality Blink DC fast charger plugged in

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Electric charging and technology company ECOtality has suspended trading, as what it calls "material adverse developments" see it struggling to meet expected operating losses.

The company, which sells charging equipment and runs the Blink network of charging stations, filed an 8-K report this morning (pdf file) advising of several factors preventing it from meeting ongoing obligations.

Low sales of its charging equipment under the EV Project--in the face of reduced government subsidies--struggles to meet scheduled product launches and failure to obtain additional financing all mean the company is now considering restructuring or sale.

"The Company is currently exploring options for a restructuring or sale of the entire business and/or assets of the Company, the Company may need to file a petition commencing a case under the United States Bankruptcy Code as part of any such process or otherwise in the very near future", Ecotality said in the report.

These issues have also led to the Department of Energy suspending payments to Ecotality. The DoE's funding, as with other companies, is reliant on Ecotality meeting certain operational obligations. These include the aforementioned additional financing and product launches--conditions the company may not meet.

The DoE sent a statement to Ecotality, informing it "that it is suspending all payments under the EV Project while it investigates the situation and determines whether the award should continue".

More details are expected to follow in an official statement.


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Comments (33)
  1. This is terrible news, but not entirely surprising, given the declines we've seen from the company. I have a Blink / EV Project charger in my garage, and Seattle's three fast chargers are all by Blink. I fear they are all about to be stranded.

    Ecotality never completed the fast charge network they promised north of Seattle. Hopefully, this is an opportunity for the State of Washington to come in with its contractors and complete the network. There needs to be at least one additional fast charger between Seattle and Burlington to make I-5 a reliable trip.

  2. The main reason they weren't able to grow the network is that they couldn't convince enough businesses to pay to install them.

    The cost to install L2 and DCQC stations is substantial.

    Ecotality will blame the on ewak plug-in sales - projections of plug-in sales were projected to be much higher by now.

    Plug-in owners will blame the failure on in-flexible charging fee structure - charging L2 by the hour regardless of actual charging rate discourages opportunity charging where one might plug-in for 20-30 minutes, especially when your car only pulls half the available power.

    Recently their $5 flat DCQC fee was unanimously derided in favor of a per-minute session fee.

    Not to mention that Blink stations are notorious for being unreliable.

  3. The cost to install a L2 charger is peanuts. You can get one off the shelf for $800. Maybe $1-2K for installation, depending on how far is is to a breaker.

    The DCQC L3 chargers are definitely pricey. That charger costs more than my car.

  4. Would be wonderful to see Elon jump in Buy the company and use the Blink sites to open up more Super Chargers.

  5. I would love to see some Tesla designed L2 and DCQC stations. Probably vastly cheaper and more reliable than the notoriously un-reliable Blink stations.

  6. With a nickname like " on the Blink" I'm not surprised.

  7. The independent charging company doesn't make sense. Onwers are too cheap to pay and equipment and upkeep are too costly.

    I am just shocked that utility company isn't in the business of providing charging station to the public.

    They will be taking revenue out of the oil company's hand and that is one easy area for growth...

  8. @Xiaolong: For what it's worth, I heard the CEO of one utility say outright that his company had studied the public charging station business and simply didn't see a way where it could be profitable.

    The electricity is very cheap, so you can't mark it up too much or users won't pay, and it costs a fair amount to keep public stations functioning properly, replace vandalized equipment, etc.--as Blink and ChargePoint no doubt have found out.

    So I'm NOT surprised that utilities haven't taken to this line. They're in an entirely different business, and selling very small amounts of electricity at public outlets isn't what they do.

  9. But they can make a bigger profit on DC quick charger. They just need a different business model.

    Since the current BEV have limited range, they can provide a "monthly" membership thing so BEV owners would pay to charge at those locations for DC quick charge.

    Yes, electricity is cheap. That is why the idea of having charging stations everywhere to keep the limited range BEV going is NOT practical.

  10. That's exactly what eVgo is doing. They have a monthly all you can charge plan on L2 and L3 charging.

  11. Yes, eVgo is funded by NRG which is a power company. But I am NOT sure if this business model is making profit for the company yet. I think that is probably the only long term solution to the problem.

  12. While I want to see more public charging available, I bought a Volt because it isn't. And when I see a station charging $2/hour (or more) regardless of draw, I just let the range extender handle the problem. There is a better charging station near my work that charges by the half hour, at $0.50 per. A friend of mine who has a 70 mile commute is charging his Volt there until our office completes the five new stations in our parking garage. I still won't need them as my commute is 31.6 miles round trip.

  13. Exactly!

    Another clear example. The once "popular" Blink charging stations by IKEA in Emeryville, CA. There were plugin cars there constantly all the time when it was free. Once they started charging for about $1.50 per hour (which I thought was reasonable for away charging), the spots are mostly empty now. So, either the plugin owners never really need the station or they are taking their "other gas" cars to get there...

  14. If you could pump gas at your house for $2.00 a gallon, you wouldn't go to the gas station for $4.00 a gallon gas unless you were on a road trip or really needed it. This business model was D.O.A.

  15. So, they need to put it where people "need" it, NOT want.

    At the time of "need", people will be gladly to pay more for it...

  16. That sounds like the placement of superchargers. Oh, but they're free.

  17. Get a subscription service going, charge a "bulk" rate for EV owners who want to charge away from the house. It will be no different from the bulk minutes that phone company is selling you or Netflix where you get to "watch unlimited" number of movies.

    People buy "bulk" so "just in case"...

    Of course, I agree that in order for that to survive, they can't compete against any "free stations"... As long as there are "free stations", the fee based ones will NOT survive.

  18. There are more comments in this thread
  19. In the Orlando FL area many of the charging stations appear to be operated by the local utility (OUC. At least that it what appears to be the case. The utility company names is listed on locations on the EPA locator list.
    Laws in some states states still makes the operation on charging stations quirky as the law says only utilities can sell electricity. I suppose some companies like charge-point could get around this by saying the money charged is just for the time not the electricity.

  20. Another sign that Tesla's Superchargers will be the prevailing standard some day. It's rolled out systematically and its clear what will pay for them for now: car sales.

    The rest of the field shows competing standards with the sort of output that's only fit for city EVs haphazardly rolled out by a myriad of companies who often have still to figure out how to make people pay for their services.

  21. No consumer will care if their car even has an L3 port until the car itself has a 200 mile range. Until then, the only thing L3 ever buys you is the ability to drive in circles around the charging station indefinitely. Even if we did spend enough money to go to the moon on a 60-mile-spaced national L3 network, no one would use it because tiny batteries charge too slowly. The only people who will pay for L3 with small batteries are taxi drivers and delivery vans. If Blink had realized this when they made their business plan, they might have done better, or given up before wasting all that money.

    Tl;dr the only reason Tesla is even bothering with an L3 network is because their batteries are big enough to need it.

  22. I paid $5 this weekend for a Blink DCQC session and it was well worth it. If this station weren't there, I would have had to drive the Prius. That's no fun.

  23. Wow. That's not even remotely right. I have a Leaf. I get about 80 miles on a charge. I hit the L3 in Seattle 2-3 times a week because I'm currently living in a hotel and looking for a house to buy. One of the chargers is by a QFC grocery store, so I plug in, buy groceries for a couple of days and come out to 80-90% charge on my car. The L3 chargers give me considerable flexibility.

  24. The actual "car sales" will take a while before Tesla makes any money off them... The green credits it sells is what makes it slightly profitable, the recent stock price is the reason why they're sitting on the billion dollars in cash, and Toyota giving away the Freemont plant is why Tesla is able to build anything outside of a mechanic's garage. It's all good, they (and we) are very lucky but without those factors and gov't help, and relying on "car sales" alone, they would be just a tiny, little footnote in history... Let's keep that in mind.

  25. Oh yeah you're right. Those guys are nobody. Fuh-get-a-bout 'em.

  26. Not unexpected based on their poor execution of their business plan.

  27. Public L1 and L2 charging will never be profitable, for the reasons everyone is listing. L3 is the only public charging that could exist by itself (not as a fringe benefit for customers or employees). But it suffers from a worse chicken-and-egg problem than EVs themselves.

    You simply can't make a profit from L3 until you have a dense, reliable network in place long enough for people who need it to start relying on it. Right now, anyone who needs more than 80 miles range buys a hybrid/range-extender, not a car with an L3 port, so you have essentially zero existing customer base. That's why Blink failed, and why Tesla does not even pretend that L3 charging will be a profit center for the foreseeable future.

  28. I think Tesla realized early in the game that the sort of money people are willing to pay for charging will only cover a fraction of the cost of the network so in typical Elon Musk fashion that lemon was cleverly turned into lemonade: "Free for life". That's the sort of slogan that sells cars and saves a lot of money on marketing expenses. People pay for the network through a mark up on the cars part of which would otherwise have been added for marketing expenses anyway. This allows Tesla to build a systematically rolled out grid of Superchargers which will someday be a very valuable asset for the company.

  29. I'm not a big fan of "free charging", because if a business offer this service, it will give back the bill to all the consumers, including people that use greener transportation options than EV, like walking, bike and public transportation.

    But L2 charging stations have a lot of competition : electricity at home and even gas (for PHEV). 1$/hour is too much money for not enough range, I would use those stations only if I'm force to. And those situation might not happen often as batteries get more range.

    I don't really see the use of L2 outside parking job, hotels and home (but you can use L1 there). But for L3, it is a totally different story.

  30. It's very sad for us here in GA. They were just getting ready to roll out a nice set of L2s and the first L3s in the state and now we're again stuck in the metro...

  31. There are plenty of green businesses that stay afloat until the government subsidies dry up. We need better government oversight to prevent companies from staying stagnant. Without showing proof that they are willing to take the training wheels off, they do not deserve taxpayer money. This company had the potential, but failed in the execution. I don't blame the DOE for cutting grants, because Ecotality as a business should have been self sustaining by now.

  32. Likely why they wanted more than one company to participate.

  33. Several of us spent months trying to work with Ecotality in the Puget Sound region. No response to emails and phone calls. We had sites and businesses lined up. Ecotality never came through. I'm not surprised.

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