Aside from the environmental argument for moving away from imported fuels toward electric-powered transportation, the case is often made that energy independence is important for national security. Charles Gassenheimer, CEO of Ener1, whose Enerdel subsidiary makes the lithium ion batteries that will power the Th!nk City, has said himself that, "The last thing we want is to trade dependence on foreign oil for dependence on foreign batteries." Ironic it is, then, that questions are now being raised in an article by Barron's about the ownership stake in the company held by Boris Zingarevich, a Russian businessman said to have "close ties to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin." Boris Zingarevich (and his brother Mikhail) sits on the board of Ener1 Group and has "indirect ownership of less than 40%" of its shares.

Gassenheimer attributes this situation emerging as an issue as an attempt at market manipulation by a short seller and we note that Zingarevich's involvement in the company has been public knowledge for years. Now though, Ener1 is competing for a $480 million piece of Department of Energy loan pie and issues such as this might play a role in the final decision. Certainly, some people approached by Barron's for their opinion on the issue claim to have concerns. Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy and former aide to strident Cold War anti-communist and Neo-Con influencer Henry M. Jackson, says, "...it's insanity to be building a national battery infrastructure in the pockets of the oligarchs of the past and future Soviet Union." Perhaps a bit over the top but politics has been said to be all about "appearances." So, how does this situation appear to you?

[Source: Barron's]



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