Looks like things that were bad with Ener1 (and the Think City electric car) are about to go to worse. After a string of bad news (see here, here, here and here), the latest shoe to drop is the news that the NASDAQ suspended Ener1 from the stock exchange. The fight has apparently gone out of Ener1, since the company said it has no plans to appeal and will thus be permanently delisted from NASDAQ. The stock (previously HEV and now HEVV), which used to trade at over $4 a share, will now be "penny-stock status on the over-the-counter bulletin board" and "more difficult to buy and sell," writes the Indianapolis Business Journal.

If we didn't know better, we'd expect a fresh round of Solyndra/Fisker-like criticism over this case, since Think received a $118.5 million grantnot a loan, this time – in August 2009. There are even Russians involved somehow.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 28 Comments
      Marco Polo
      • 3 Years Ago
      @EVnerdGene, In principle, you are right. Governments shouldn't enter into the business arena, other than as a regulator, or provider of services that free enterprise can't. Even then, the government should enter as a customer of free enterprise, not actually run the business. However, there are circumstances where a national government must act to prevent catastrophic damage to the national economy, or when without assistance, an industry will become uncompetitive from subsidised foreign rivals. In such cases the government has a duty to assist it's citizen. This applies to corporate citizens as well as private citizens. Laize-faire ideological dogma can be just as damaging as socialist dogma is applied too rigorously
      Ryan
      • 3 Years Ago
      It goes to show you how hard it is to create a start-up auto company. And the marketing/sales dept isn't doing very good...let alone if they extended the car and made it into a UTE/small pick-up truck to differentiate themselves. If the government hadn't provided the bailout to GM, Think should have partnered with GM to build an electric car (that probably should have been part of the deal). Building one from scratch is tough and expensive, if the factories to make the frame, body panels, and other components are already in place, they could have produced a cheaper vehicle with a brand name behind it. (Just like Saleen 'makes' a Ford Mustang)
        Dan Frederiksen
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ryan
        allowing customers to buy their cells might also have helped their business.. unimpressive decisions were made
          Marco Polo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Dan Frederiksen
          @brotherkenny4 Why 'supposedly', ? The problem compounds when the backyard hobbyist sells his battery powered vehicle to a third party, yet the battery is still held to have an 'inherent' warranty. Exide v Grover held that the battery manufacturer was still liable for the battery performance dispute the fact that it did not sell the battery to the present owner. For small numbers of batteries, this is an impossible financial burden to keep replacement stock units, etc. This is why Gold Peak bought back the failed EV maker Vectrix, simply to limit it's liabilities.
          brotherkenny4
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Dan Frederiksen
          Supposedly they say that the profit margins in cells sold in small quantities is small, and there is a liability possibility, especially when the consumer may be ignorant of safe operating procedures (or even be abusive to the cells). Courts tend to side with consumers, even consumers who have been warned. I would also like to see them sell their cells to hobbyists, but EnerDel is not the only one who doesn't. You would just think that now that they are in what appears to be a desparate position they would begin to open up on cell sales, but they don't. By the way (on a seperate note-not related to DFs comment) Ener1 is the parent, EnerDel is the battery maker. They received a grant that required 50% cost share, so while they did receive 118M federal funding, they also were putting in 118M of their own money (skin in the game). The total project value is $236M. This is all public knowledge. You'd think the journalist would try to get this stuff correct. I understand that commenters are working with limited information, but the journalist today should be ashamed of themselves for their lack of precision and accuracy on the facts.
          brotherkenny4
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Dan Frederiksen
          Marco, why offer a warranty at all? I'll buy cells just for the fun of using them and would actually prefer the lower cost. I could test out a few to see where the best operating window is and then run them in a way that gives me the best value. I'll sign an agreement to not hold the manufacturer responsible for any liability regarding the use of the cells. I'll filter the cells for ones that operate well and only use the stable cells in my application. I just think even if the manufacturers were to offer me such a deal, the manufacturers would still be held liable by the courts for any damage that would happen due to for instance an internal short that caused a runaway and subsequent fire, regardless of whether I signed a waiver of responsibilty. What I really want is to have a choice. The choice to buy cells after signing a waiver, that would make me responsible for the use of the cells and any potential problems. I don't get that choice. What I get is told that I can't buy them, and the excuse is that I need protection from the exploding batteries. But I can buy as many gallons of gasoline as I want, because no one has ever been injured by gasoline.
          Roy_H
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Dan Frederiksen
          I heartily agree, I never understood why so many battery manufacturers refused to sell to hobbyists, only major OEMs.
      Dave
      • 3 Years Ago
      Meanwhile, Tesla sold ~$200 million worth of cars and sold $3 billion worth of stock. (15 times as much) Clearly, the folks at Ener1 needed a carnival barker like Musk.
        Roy_H
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dave
        Tesla has a real desirable product, and they let the world know everything about it. Engineering design, prototype testing etc. Think had a cute little spartan car that looked like it should sell for $16k, but was same price as a LEAF. Tesla Roadsters do not sell because of carnival sales techniques.
          Dave
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Roy_H
          I guess you missed my point: Tesla doesnt sell cars; Tesla sells stock. ~1,500 cars in 4 years is nothing.
        EVnerdGene
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dave
        it doesn't matter what you sell something for, if you don't make a profit eventually you need a positive cash flow, or , , , or, some sign that you will eventually have a positive cash flow
      brotherkenny4
      • 3 Years Ago
      Think did not get the grant, it was EnerDel (the parent is Ener1- the battery maker is EnerDel- Think is a separate company, although invested in heavily by some of the same investors) and it was for a 50% cost share award. In other words, EnerDel is putting in $118 million and DOE $118 million for a total project value of $236M. This is public information, so why is it not reported correctly here?
        EVnerdGene
        • 3 Years Ago
        @brotherkenny4
        so we all agreeeeee only $118 MILLION of taxpayer or government-borrowed money down the toilet either way tacked onto the national debt yet another excellent investment - that was NOT necessary
          brotherkenny4
          • 3 Years Ago
          @EVnerdGene
          They have not spent $118M. They are not even half way done, and being delisted from the NASDAQ is not evidence for failure. Even if they did fail there is equity that would be used to pay off debtors, and reduce the governments obligations. So after some time we would know what the true cost would be. The same can be said for Solyndra. The cost to the tax payer will not be $535M. The process of bankruptcy and distribution of equity has to happen and then we will know what the true cost is. Everyone who looks at the up front number and implies that that is the loss to the tax payer is either inept or dishonest, in that they either know what I have said is true and prefer to misrepresent the reality or they are not smart enough to know what a loan guarentee is. I agree with you the investment was not necessary, cheap batteries can be purchased from China and Korea.
      DaveMart
      • 3 Years Ago
      Two or three years ago I predicted that the US's patchily funded start ups intent on 'brekthroughs' and attracting Government grants were going to get murdered by the East Asians, where funding is more consistent and the players were giant corporations intent on more incremental improvement. The only bright spots are that Nissan simply regards itself as an international corporation, so the battery set up's across the world are equally central, and that Petersen who has knocked lithium on any and all pretexts is likely to loose his shirt on Axion.
      Roy_H
      • 3 Years Ago
      So Ener1 is a subsidiary of Enerdel. I take it that Ener1 is left to die without any help from Enerdel, it would only drag Enerdel down too. Smart move on the part of Enerdel, to spin off a high risk venture as a separate company. I never had a good feeling about Ener1 because they never published any battery specifications or prices. Judging from the price of the Th!nk, Ener1 prices were high.
      EVnerdGene
      • 3 Years Ago
      whoa, I see a trend: When private markets invest in company, they tend to invest in experienced entrepreneurs, who also have some skin in the game. When the government invests in a long-shot idea for a business, there's always some kind of motive - however bent the thinkin' Seems like everyone has already forgotten that Ford owned this vehicle for a while, and invested, and lost millions on the deal.
        Spec
        • 3 Years Ago
        @EVnerdGene
        C'mon. Lots of private investors with skin in the game lost a lot of money with Enerdel, Solyndra, Beacon Power, etc.
          Spec
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Spec
          " Will Secretary Chu lose his job over lousy investments in Solyndra or Frisker ? How about Biden and Obozo ?" Uh . . . yes, they will. Ever hear of an election?
          EVnerdGene
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Spec
          I don't think our government has the expertise to evaluate business potential, nor should they. Don't gamble with our tax dollars (nor money we're borrowing from china). Another issue I have with bureaucrats making "investments" for us, is that they also have no skin in the game. Will Secretary Chu lose his job over lousy investments in Solyndra or Frisker ? How about Biden and Obozo ?
          EVnerdGene
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Spec
          @Michael If you are satisfied with Obozo's policies, then nothing I could say would change your so-called mind.
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Spec
          Any due diligence would have shown that this was a Hail Mary pass rather than a normal investment. I am thinking of opening an ETF for similar ventures. Perhaps the RIP fund?
          Danaon
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Spec
          The difference is that they lost their own money, not taxpayer's money.
          Michael
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Spec
          EVnerdGene, "Obozo" - Your true colors are showing. When you make statements like that, it's hard to take anything you say without a very large grain of salt.
          Joeviocoe
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Spec
          Danaon, Yeah, but that wasn't Spec's point. The point was that hind sight is 20/20. Neither private investors nor government knew that these investments (risks) were definitely sour. That's the point of risk. There is a chance you will lose. *************** Even though the government is betting with our money... it is a bigger risk to keep up this game with buying oil, fighting wars to protect oil, etc.
      Marco Polo
      • 3 Years Ago
      The modern practical EV and EREV's are relatively new and still in the process of becoming mainstream. It's unfortunate that some early companies succeed and other fail. If you look back to the 1920 and 30's, or even 1950's and early 60's, you can witness how many auto-manufacturers, disappeared along the way. It's the same with any new industry, some will succeed and prosper others will merge or whither and die. This is the nature of free enterprise. Governments invest in industry to assist with the nations ability to compete with foreign rivals. Some times in response to a demand from voters, or to assist particular sector of the economy in trouble. This is part of the 'partnership' governments have in the economy. But, government are no more immune than any other investor, from a percentage of failures.
        EVnerdGene
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Marco Polo
        I forgot who it was (somebody like Lee Iaccoco) said; "I only have to be right 51% of the time to be successful CEO". The government is almost always wrong in their investments in business. Government shouldn't be in the business of investing in business - especially since there are investors lined-up to invest in good investments. Goverment's job - aid business by making it easier to do business - a level playing field. Not picking winners and losers, and then competing with those that weren't as good at being chosen by the politicians. What if my business actually had a better idea, but didn't have to expertise or connections or desire to blow the right guy ?
      Spec
      • 3 Years Ago
      Ener1 never seemed to get any supplier contracts. So they tried a desperation move by funding Think. But Think failed because they never had the mass manufacturing scale needed to bring down prices. Yeah, Ener1 will probably end up in the headlines soon in another "Green energy failure!" story. :-/
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