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DoE Halted Ecotality Payments; 12,000 Charging Stations To Have Plugs Recalled

 
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ECOtality DC fast charger  -  Portland, OR

ECOtality DC fast charger - Portland, OR

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Electric car charging network provider Ecotality announced Monday it had suspended trading due to "material adverse developments".

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

Failure to meet those obligations also saw the company lose important Department of Energy payments, but there's a larger impact for Ecotality's Blink network users: A recall of thousands of connector plugs at charging stations.

With financial troubles preventing a fix for design and manufacturing defects in its charging systems, the 12,000 charging stations it has installed to date could be rendered inoperable.

It isn't clear when this recall will occur. Shortly after Ecotality's 8-K report was filed, the company posted an "important message" on its website, for users of its services.

"We wanted you to know that the needs of our drivers are paramount to us and despite the challenges we currently face, we will continue to operate the Blink Network and maintain our Blink chargers until further notice" it reads.

"We urge you to visit a Blink charger today and show that you support the growth of a public charging infrastructure."

The company confirmed in the 8-K it was exploring options for restructuring or sale, either for the entire company or selected assets. However, things may get worse for Ecotality before they get better.

MarketWatch reports shareholder and consumer rights litigation firm Zeldes Haeggquist & Eck, LLP is currently investigating Ecotality, to determine whether the company has violated federal securities laws or breached its duties to shareholders.

More details are expected to follow in the coming days.

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Comments (20)
  1. Hope Ecotality can work this out. They are a significant part of the public charging infrastructure.
     
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  2. FAUX News, I mean, FOX News is going to have a field day with this one.
     
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  3. This company can not survive at this rate. The chargers they make are very unreliable, one of them here doesn't work half of the time and gets fixed regularly. The quality issue must be fixed and they must sell these to businesses, not make money by selling a charge. They should offer portable 220v and EVSE charge cable upgrades, like the company in California does. But with the serious quality issues Blink has, I just don't see how they can survive. I hope someone takes over their network if they fail, most of the chargers around here are Blink.
     
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  4. We have seen issues with ChargePoint and SemaConnect charging stations as well. Often they are connectivity, authentication and with ChargePoint, release of the plug for charging. At least as you say the Blink stations were fixed regularly.

    Maintenance for the charging infrastructure has become the main issue, often more important than expanding it. Especially with the more complex fast chargers, where there would be a single instance on location, availability is critical. Was any of the DoE money allocated for maintenance?
     
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  5. Not all of them have been maintained, a few of them have been offline for months. Only one of them is regularly fixed because someone keeps complaining about it. He always comments on the Plugshare app when he complains to Blink, which has quite a long list.
     
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  6. J1772 level 2 connectors or Chademo connector plugs?
    There is no way Blink has 12k Chademo connectors.
    What is the source for connector issue?
     
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  7. The problems with Blink J1772 handles overheating is well known.
    http://www.plugincars.com/honda-fit-ev-overheats-blink-charger-126246.html
    The cause is poor quality crimping of the current carrying pins in the J1772 handles made by REMA. I don't know what there is to investigate. In my mind, the only thing left to do is to get REMA to step up and replace their poorly made parts. Of course, that's assuming that REMA supplied a handle/cable assembly instead of supplying the handle un-assembled and Ecotality did the crimping and assembly.
     
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  8. Well, as Blink user at home and away, I can say that the quality of their product was always a bit suspect. Moreover, for away charging the laws in place state that only one entity can sell you electricity--the power company. That's why Blink can't charge you by the amount of power you use. It's actually illegal. They can only sell you the ability to plug in which was a doomed business model. Either change the laws or force the power companies to provide EV charging stations so that we can be billed a fair rate for energy consumption. Until then, there's no business model in which a company can be successful selling you an EV charge.
     
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  9. True, they cannot charge per kWH in most cities/states. BUT, they could charge by the minute, instead of by the hour (or by the session).
     
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  10. By the minute is the best, with double rates after charged, and then triple rates, to make people to get the hell out of the way.
     
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  11. I hope they can keep things going or find an investor to save them, I'd hate to see the EV infrastructure suffer any setbacks.
     
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  12. Who is going to invest in it if its business model has significant problem?

    I think Blink has enough coverage now it should just ask for a member monthly fee and allow all its members to use "unlimited" amount of charges but limit each charging to only 2-4 hrs at a time (cost more to stay on afterward). That way, it will prevent "hoggin" and then allow people to buy the charge at "bulk rate"...
     
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  13. I hope they find a way to stay around, or someone takes them over and does. It would be a real loss to the charging infrastructure if not.

    Also, I wonder if the problem with the J1772 plugs overheating is the same issue that resulted in a recall on the Schneider EV Link chargers earlier this year. Does anyone know if they use the same supplier? Schneider fixed the problem in an exemplary manner. We have one of their units and they sent out someone to replace the entire cord and plug at no charge, then sent a survey and a $50 gift card to me after that. They pretty much won my loyalty for life.
     
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  14. Are you sure you got this right - all EVSE connectors on recall....or just the problematic CHAdeMO DC Fast Charge units?
     
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  15. TThere are very few Blink stations where I live (Fort Worth,Tx). The one time that I used one of their chargers was in Dallas and I had trouble and had to call in. I subscribe to evgo and have had few problems. Evgo has quick chargers which I depend upon when I am not using overnight charging at home.
     
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  16. Ecotality has learned that you can't fight basic economics. EV charging is not a very profitable activity. A single gas pump can service hundreds of cars a day with an average sale of $30 while an EV station might see one or two cars a day with an average sale of $4. If gas stations have to sell beer and chips to stay afloat how did Ecotality expect to survive?

    EV charging is actually an adjunct of the parking industry. Any time you stop a car in an urban area for longer than 3 - 5 minutes it is a parking issue, not a refueling issue. And since the parking industry is already a profitable business it is better able to bear the initial costs and low usage of EV chargers at this early stage.
     
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  17. Where i live, most charging stations normally are only used a few times a month, and are free. And they are mostly Blink stations.
     
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  18. Just wondering who subsidized these folks? Also wondering if the folks in "charge" will be feeling any pain, or do they all fade into the sunset as multi-millionairs?
     
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  19. Implications for Chargepoint?
     
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  20. Said it from Day One; the money provided by the DOE was pathetic at best insuring a company with the cajones to take on such an ambitious project would be lacking and that is EXACTLY what happened.

    instead of keeping to the original project area (which was a mistake anyway) Ecotality expanded spreading itself too thin and made bad decisions on products to use. They should have used a confirmed product first to build clientele and then developed their own later after they gained customer loyalty but hard to do what with a budget that is not even 1/10th the Nation's daily Oil bill
     
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