After a suspension of payments from the Federal Government, electric vehicle charging system manufacturer Ecotality was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this Monday. The move is the company’s first step towards dissolution and the sale of its assets at auction.
This news follows August’s revelation that the CHAdeMO-type charger, the type used by Ecotality’s “blink” chargers, would be phased out of the EU market by 2018, in favor of the SAE-developed “Combo Connector“.
This news will be politicized, of course. The Republicans will argue that DOE loans don’t work, and will hold up companies like Ecotality and Fisker as examples. The Democrats will point out that those companies were established using business plans and financial models that depended on government funds that were promised, but never delivered. The Republicans will say something stupid. The Democrats will say something irrelevant.
That’s America, and it’s part of the cycle.
As students of history will often tell you (find one, then wait), there are cycles to history, and there are predictable events in all the great historical transitions. As the world struggles to come to terms with its oil addiction, there will be fits and starts and there will be success stories and there will be examples to others. In the case of Ecotality and its “blink” network of electric vehicle charging stations, it’s fair to say that there will be more cautionary tales than epics once the dust settles and everyone involved can look back on things objectively.
Like, it’s an objectively bad idea to put EV charging stations at Walgreens, because people pop in and out of there. It would have been smarter to put EV chargers at shopping centers and sports bars, where people plan on spending two or three hours. Nobody asked me, though.
That said, Ecotality and its CHAdeMO plugs may be the Betamax or HD-DVD of the EV world. Here’s hoping the right product won.