Despite Bankruptcy, Customers Stick With Ener1 Batteries

Who would ever imagine that we would reach a point in politics where one party is openly rooting for the failure of American companies? Yet that is exactly what the GOP is doing these days, cheering loudly whenever a green energy company files for bankruptcy and making a point to tie it all back to President Obama.

The thing about bankruptcy is that it doesn’t mean the end of the company, as the auto bailouts showed. While some companies, like Solyndra, inevitably closed showed after liquidating their assets, another recently-bankrupt company, EnerDel (also referred to as Ener1) has announced that many of their former customers are standing by the battery-makers side, hoping for a leaner, more efficient company.

Ener1’s story is not for the faint of heart, that is for sure. While EnerDel batteries were slated for use in the Th!nk City EV, Th!nk’s own bankruptcy (it’s third in a decade) saw production cease of its little electric car, slashing demand for EnerDel’s batteries. As it so happens, Ener1 owned a controlling interest in Th!nk Global, and ended up losing more than $73 million when the EV maker went bankrupt once again.

But while Th!nk Global was to be EnerDel’s largest customer (and may yet, if production resumes as planned) it was not the battery maker’s only customer. Volvo, now owned by China’s Geely, is using Ener1’s batteries in 250 of its C30 electric compact test cars. Lightning Motorcycles is also moving forward with planned production for an all-electric motorcycle using EnerDel’s battery system.

The Indiana-based EnerDel was the recipient of $118 million of stimulus money back in 2009, making it a prime target for Republicans on the war path. But despite this bankruptcy, EnerDel has been able to hold on to two high-profile clients, and will hopefully maintain other deals, like the agreement to provide China’s Waxiang electric cars with batteries.

What the future holds for Ener1 is any guess, though obviously some companies still see promise in the battery-maker’s technology and ability to re-organize whilst in bankruptcy. But can they make it in the long haul? Only time will tell.

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.