Consider today's collapse of electric car company Green Vehicles an object lesson in why it's a bad idea for cities to invest in the risky business of start-up car companies--perhaps especially start-up electric car companies. The city of Salinas, California learned that lesson today as Green Vehicles shut its doors, costing the city more than $500,000.

Starting any company is a risky proposal--most don't make it past their first few years. Starting an electric car company can be even riskier, as governmental regulation of the car industry sets an expensive barrier to entry, and the nascent technologies in electric car development are costly and can shift direction quickly.

Green Vehicles was working on a three-wheeled electric car called the Triac 2.0, intended as a freeway-capable commuter car with a range of 100 miles and a top speed of 80 mph. It used a 30kW permanent-magnet electric motor, and a lithium-ion battery pack. It was targeting retail prices near $25,000. Another vehicle, called the MOOSE, was a utility van-type vehicle built as a neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV).

Though the company's web page is still operational, there is no notice about the company's current situation. According to local ABC news affiliate KSBW, Green Vehicles president and co-founder Mike Ryan has said all of the company's funding is gone. He reportedly notified city officials that the company was finished via email.

Green Vehicles had promised it would create 70 new jobs and tax revenue of $700,000 per year.

[KSBW, Wikia, Green Vehicles]