Green companies in the US have taken a hit recently. Solyndra’s failure has made national news. Evergreen Solar in Massachusetts has shut its doors. Now, Ener1, Inc., headquartered in New York City, has been delisted by NASDAQ.
A Promising Start
Ener1, Inc. was a publicly traded energy storage technology company. The company develops compact, lithium-ion-powered battery solutions for the utility grid, transportation and industrial electronics markets. Headquartered in New York City, the company has nearly 700 employees with manufacturing locations in the United States and Korea.
The NASDAQ delisting was brought on by a series of recent follies. Ener1, Inc., a manufacture of compact lithium – ion batteries, was in a partnership with Norwegian manufacturer Think Global, the maker of the electric vehicle (EV) Think City (advertised as Th!nk City). The Think City had two seats, a range of 99 miles, and a top speed of 68 miles per hour.
A Bad Bet
Overall, Think City had some potential; the EV was small, light and had an expected price tag in the US of $28,000. However, after a number of miss starts, when the EV did hit the market in parts of Europe and the US at a price of $41,695, only around 1,000 units had been sold worldwide by 2011. The EV was a bust . Ener1 twice bailed out Think Global, and wound up as the majority shareholder. To date, Ener1 has invested over $90 million in Think Global, and is still owed $35 million for batteries it sold the now-defunct automaker.
Think Global went bankrupt for a fourth time this year, and Ener1 lost the battery contract with the company in addition to $73 million of stock it owned in the automaker. The CEO of Ener1, Charles Gassenheimer, stepped down, and Ener1 was forced to write down a $59.4 million impairment charge. A Russian investor bought up Think Global’s assets, and promises to launch a refined Think City in 2012, but the buyout came too late to assist Ener1’s financial situation. Ener1’s value and goodwill as a company was gone. Stock prices plunged to 19 cents a share, and NASDAQ delisted the company last week. Essentially, Ener1 put all of their eggs in one basket with Think Global, and when Think went bust, again, it took Ener1 down with it.
Dragging Down The Industry?
Perhaps more importantly is the overall negative impact that companies like Solyndra and Ener1 have on US policy towards funding EV and other “green” enterprises. The US economy is hurting, government spending is out of control, and America continues to fall farther and farther behind the sustainable energy race. If “green” enterprises keep blowing it in such a spectacular fashion, especially after accepting millions in government aid, then the government aid will stop, and with it much of the forward momentum of the green movement.
Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail.