Ecotality Auction Begins with Thousands of EV Chargers in the Balance
Plug-in vehicle charge provider Ecotality opened its bankruptcy auction yesterday, three weeks after formally filing for Chapter 11 protection. On Monday, the company was denied its request to delay the auction until next week. The process is now scheduled to end today, October 9, when a judge is expected to declare the winner of the auction.
The only known bid for Ecotality so far apparently comes from Tellus Power, a brand new Irvine, Calif.-based company that reportedly bid $3 million. Tellus has no functioning website and has left few traces on the internet prior to today.
Tellus is a subsidiary of Tusai Holdings, a company based in Hong Kong that describes itself as “a privately owned company of the Chinese middle class,” with “a wide-ranging portfolio that extends from capacitors, battery storage, supercapacitors to charging stations and solar technology.”
If Tellus Power emerges as the winner of the auction, it would put an end to rumors that Nissan had interest in taking over Ecotality. Last month, shortly after the company filed for bankruptcy protection, Nissan loaned Ecotality $1.25 million to keep it in operation until the auction. Currently there is no word on what Tellus’s plans might be for Ecotality, and the thousands of EV chargers it operates.
Bankruptcy Filing Lists Stranded Assets
In a bankruptcy filing dated October 1, Ecotality listed its assets and liabilities. The bulk of its assets stem from depreciating home and public chargers that while legally still the property of Ecotality, will eventually become the full property of EV Project participants. The filing includes a nearly 200-page section listing the addresses of every home and public charger in the Blink Network, with depreciated values for the units ranging from $0 to more than $90,000 for some of the newer Level 3 charger installations.
In all, the chargers add up to almost $16 million dollars in book value, though they will only retain long-term value as deprecation write-offs on the company’s taxes. Ecotality also lists a number of expiring software licenses and more than $14 million in parts and inventory.
Ecotality’s two biggest creditors are the EV Project, to which it owes more than $14 million, and “Ecotality Inc.” to which it owes more than $82 million. Ecotality Inc., is a co-debtor that in turn owes that $82 million to a bank under the Energy Department’s loan guarantee program. All said, Ecotality was awarded more than $100 million dollars by the U.S. Department of Energy, as part of the EV Project.
Before bankruptcy, Ecotality had installed more than 13,000 plug-in vehicle chargers nationwide. What happens to those chargers after bankruptcy will be up to the new corporate owner to decide.
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