Are Ener1, AC Propulsion shake-ups signs that demand for li-ion batteries is low?

For years, CEO Charles Gassenheimer was the friendly, public face of battery maker Ener1, speaking with AutoblogGreen many times over the years about his company's work with Think and Volvo and others. The company's history was long fraught with difficulty because of the way it was tied to Think and its bankruptcy problems, but Gassenheimer was always optimistic about the prospects of Ener1's lithium-ion batteries being used for automobiles and stationary grid storage. Last week, he resigned from his position after a year in which Ener1 stock dropped 95 percent.

In a similar story, Tom Gage has stepped down from the CEO position at AC Propulsion, to "allow AC Propulsion to align more closely with its investors and expanding EV component market in China," according to a company statement.

We have no idea what the real cause of all this turmoil is, but OTC Equity is pretty sure that Ener1's problem lies not specifically with the battery maker but with the lithium-ion industry as a whole. Specifically, "At its current pace of production by 2015 there will be more than double the supply of lithium-ion batteries compared to the number of electric vehicles manufactured by car companies."

OTC doesn't say how it calculates this double supply, but we heard the exact same thing two years ago from Roland Berger Strategy Consultants. Since 2009, the prospects for electric drive vehicles of all stripes looks stronger now than ever before – and no-one is seriously proposing any chemistry other than li-ion for the near-term. If the battery makers can build a whole bunch of batteries, we're pretty sure they will get used.

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