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Uh Oh - Ecotality Exploring Restructuring or Sale, Cites List of Challenges

Discussion in 'Charging Standards and Infrastructure' started by ggies07, Aug 12, 2013.

  1. ggies07

    ggies07 Active Member

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  2. gaswalla

    gaswalla P4201/85/airsusp/pano/19i

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    Ecotality is a poorly run company with lots of poor business decisions, poor marketing, low quality devices and service, and overall represents a failing business. Too bad for EV owners, but the company needs to go.
     
  3. liuping

    liuping Active Member

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    As far as I'm concerned Ecotality was a scam.

    The "free" EVSEs they offered required using only their grossly over priced local installers. They the would charge the customer for the extra "over" the government provided amount.
     
  4. gaswalla

    gaswalla P4201/85/airsusp/pano/19i

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    Yep.. the family that started the company has siphoned off millions and millions of dollars.. they ran a scam under the guise of EV-goodness. It's a demonstration of what happens to government subsidies in unscrupulous hands (vs when someone like Elon gets involved).
     
  5. ggies07

    ggies07 Active Member

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    oh, well I guess it's ok then. haha. I thought it was one of the big companies that does charging, but I don't follow all of them enough I guess.
     
  6. ZBB

    ZBB Emperor

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    A very short press release that relates to that article is on their press release site... An Important Message | ECOtality


    Since about 98% of the public chargers in the Phoenix area are Blink branded, I hope they can sell those to another operator ASAP...
     
  7. lorih

    lorih Member

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    What is your reference for that? Is there evidence?
     
  8. sp4rk

    sp4rk Banned

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    Sounds like 350green.com?
     
  9. bonnie

    bonnie Oil is for sissies.

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    While you're all focused on the business aspects of the filing, please note Lori's post (another thread) regarding a potential issue with the chargers. If you use Blink on a regular basis, you should be aware.


    Screen Shot 2013-08-12 at 11.18.59 AM.png
     
  10. dhrivnak

    dhrivnak Active Member

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    I just used 4 different Blink charging stations on my last trip and all worked flawlessly here in Tennessee.

    PS I also successfully pushed all stations to give me 38 amps well above the 30 amp limit and saw no overheating.
     
  11. Elshout

    Elshout Member

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    Austin Marxe and David Greenhouse dump 434,000 shares of Ecotality from June 14 to July 24, 2013 at about $1.65/share then Form 8-K is filed on August 12, 2013 stating "...the Company has experienced certain material adverse developments that in the aggregate significantly impact its ability to meet its ongoing obligation and to fund anticipated operating losses". These whores knew the company was going down and dumped as many shares as they could before filing the 8-K. Marxe and Greenhouse are scum.
     
  12. drees

    drees Active Member

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    The "over priced installers" were a number of sub-contractors and were required to be paid union wages per the DOE contract. Yes, this resulted in expensive quotes that your non-union electrician could easily beat. That said, the Nissan/AV quotes people were getting were in the same ball park as the Ecotality/Blink quotes from what I saw and people getting quotes from other charging station manufacturers still provide expensive quotes.

    All network connected EVSEs I've seen (pretty much just Blink / Chargepoint) have similar reliability issues, though the Blink L2 stations were notoriously bad the first year, they are much better now but still suffer from issues. Unshaded parking lots are a harsh environment. Their CHAdeMO stations are also notoriously unreliable - the AV CHAdeMO stations seem to be the most reliable. Even the Nissan branded QCs at dealers have many issues. I'm not aware of any CHAdeMO station that is rock solid, though - every single one has had some sort of issue, so Blink is not alone here.

    All that said Blink does have the largest number of public charging stations out there and in general it's working. I used 3 different stations over the weekend (2 L2 stations and a CHAdeMO) which let me drive my EV instead of the gasser. At 2 of those locations I ran into a Model S and a C-MAX Energi also using the L2 stations with success. One of the L2 stations I tried to use had a non-responsive touchscreen which I reported to Blink, but luckily there was another station available that worked (Luckily I also didn't need that charge, either).

    So even if Ecotalily/Blink go under, I really hope that someone else takes over the network. It would be a huge blow to the EV movement otherwise. I also hope that whoever takes over can figure out how to make these stations rock solid. In most cases it's bad enough having to hope that a station is not blocked by a non-charging or even charging vehicle, but to then throw in reliability issues is very frustrating.

    Whoever decided to put a huge LCD screen and speakser into the CHAdeMO stations. Completely rediculous. Also, whoever decided to tie the two plugs together so only one can be used at a time is dumb. They should be independent stations which would improve reliability. Even if that meant only 25 kW max charging instead of 50 kW max charging, more reliability/availability is what's needed, not saving 5-10 minutes on a charge. Tesla gets this by installing 3-5 independent Superchargers (6-10 plugs) at your typical location these days.

    Living on the edge! Any significant voltage drop? I think if you can do that without seeing significant voltage drop and if only charging for a short period of time you'd be OK, though I would not recommend it!

    I think most realize that most Ecotality employees were trying to do the right thing, but the executives are as you describe and ran the company into the ground. Your comments above are worth repeating.
     
  13. lorih

    lorih Member

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    That may or may not be true, but those are Wallstreet folks, and that would fall under the realm of FCC investigations (i.e. did brokers use insider information to their advantage). What I am concerned with is gaswalla's claims that Ecotality founders and management were running a scam. I see no one actually presenting evidence of that. I would hope that people on this forum would either present data or refrain from accusations that are emotional and potentially libelous.

    Again I ask, is there any evidence to support gaswalla's claims?

    Note: Author is not recommending or condemning Ecotality or their products. I am an NOT investment advisor. The purpose of this quote is to encourage intelligent debate around issues relevent to the EV community.
     
  14. ChadS

    ChadS Petroleum is for sissies

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    #14 ChadS, Aug 12, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2013
    Ecotality has made some serious mistakes that I've found to be very frustrating; so please don't mistake me for a cheerleader. But some of the accusations here are not supported by the evidence (It is entirely possible I have not seen all the evidence; but that is just all the more reason it should be shown here if it exists).

    I think their two fatal mistakes were made long ago:
    1. bidding too low on TheEVProject. They assumed site hosts would be happy to chip in $10-$15k to get a DC charger, which would vastly lower Ecotality's costs. They were way too optimistic on that point; and that really has stuck them in a very hard place - they can't find site hosts willing to pay, but can't afford to do installs without them. And they don't get the DOE money unless they are making installs. (DOE gets some of the blame for that, by not specifying oversight or penalties for failure to deliver in the contract. At least the DOE did tie payouts to installs; that helped a lot)
    2. assuming they could quickly build their own hardware cheaper than they could buy known hardware elsewhere. They had originally applied using Chargepoint equipment. They built their own equipment cheaper...but after costs to fix software and hardware issues, it ended up being more expensive. (Again, the DOE could have specified that they use the hardware they applied with).

    It's possible they made these mistakes on purpose hoping to eventually go out of business (?), but I think a much more likely explanation is that they simply underestimated the size of the task. (Some evidence: WA and OR later put out bids for smaller projects, and Aerovironment bid a lot lower on those projects than Ecotality did). And incidentally, it wasn't just Ecotality and the DOE that thought their bid was plausible: they got a lot of private money to do this work as well. Nobody had done this before, so nobody was really sure what it would take.

    Recovering from those two mistakes (both made long ago) seemed like a pretty much impossible task; though the employees I have met seemed to be trying really hard. A lot of people that just see their charging equipment don't realize that their DOE grant came with a lot of restrictions that other EVSE vendors have not had to deal with. They had to spend a LOT more money on things like site planning (Chargepoint, on the other hand, could give an EVSE to almost anybody in their area that asked for one), were limited in who they could subcontract to and how much they had to pay, and they were obligated to do a TON of data collection. They spent a lot more time and money on ADA issues than other companies. A big part of Ecotality's contract was to gather and analyze information, and they have done a great job at that. (See HERE). They were one of the first two companies to start real work on consolidation of the charging networks. As drees mentioned, they were the most unreliable big network at first (though they all had more troubles than they should have); but after tomsax's EVSE reliability study, they thanked him for his input, made both software and hardware improvements, and asked him to measure it again - it had improved quite a bit (they did not pressure him to publicize the improvement). While they made serious mistakes, they also acted like a serious business and did great work in some (not all!) areas.

    As for Marxe and Greenhouse, they have indeed recently unloaded stock and it looks like they weren't doing so before. But they are not company executives; merely investors large enough to have their trades reported to the SEC. Unless they got in just this year I would imagine they have lost more money on ECTY than most, so presumably they weren't in on a plot if there was one. It is possible they somehow got insider knowledge about a possible bankruptcy filing, but the company's poor financial position has been well-known for quite some time; many people expected this bankruptcy filing, so I don't see any reason to assume secret collusion here either.

    Like any new industry (and a lot of old ones), the EVSE industry has had a few scams. But before this thread, I have never heard anybody suggest that Ecotality was one, and I don't think there's evidence to say that now. Was Ecotality even started by a family? Like sp4rk, I suspect Ecotality is being confused with another company.

    I am not too worried about long-term implications Ecotality going out of business. There will no doubt be some short-term issues, but I am sure somebody will buy their assets and I think the EVSE business will benefit from some consolidation (if nothing else, it's one less charging network to join!). As for their existing chargers, the hard and expensive parts - finding willing site hosts and getting enough power in the right place - has been done, so I am sure somebody can take over running them, even if it means changing out the charger. There might​ have been some insider trading; but that's not at all specific to this industry, and hopefully the SEC will be on top of that.
     
  15. liuping

    liuping Active Member

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    My normal licensed electrician "pays" himself far more than a "union wage", and it would have been less than 1/2 what they charged.

    They gave you no option to use anyone except the company they contracted locally. So no competition and there was mostly likely a nice little kickback for them. They charged approximately $500/hour for installation. If that is an electrician's "union wage" I'm in the wrong field...

    Also, the only reason it took 3 hours (he only needed to change an outlet, type, mount the unit on the wall and configure the software), is the installer had no idea what he was doing. More then half the time he spent reading the manual and on the phone with Blink/Ecotality.
     
  16. lorih

    lorih Member

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    I just wanted to thank ChadS for his comments below (too large to quote, but well worth the read). As someone working in the EV space for many years, I trust ChadS has more info than most of us on this forum, so thanks for giving your perspective.
     
  17. cinergi

    cinergi Active Member

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    Chad (or anyone who was at TESLIVE) -- who was the main guy there representing Blink? I could swear he was CEO-level. Anyway, I was ... surprised (in a bad way) at the conversation I had him. He did listen and ask questions in earnest and I felt like I provided a fair amount of education, but it was education that someone in his position should already have IMO. Just goes to show that talking to people is important -- provide our input and experiences to the people that need to hear it.
     
  18. rcc

    rcc Model S 85KW, VIN #2236

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    Not a surprise. I was part of an EV charger eval and Chargepoint looked way better than Blink/Ecotality. In the Bay Area, Chargepoint has installed more chargers at a handful of private companies than Blink has in the entire area.
     
  19. EVNow

    EVNow Active Member

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    There is an argument made on MNL that these guys seem to have declared bankruptcy after getting most of the money ($95M). That sure looks problematic, given the amount of work they have done.

    Project Summary


    My Nissan Leaf Forum View topic - ECOtality News 8/12/13 - DOE Stops payments
     
  20. RandyS

    RandyS Fan of Elon

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    How about posting some details and the numbers so we can really understand your example? Total price, subsidy applied, some description of the install, distance from panel, state of panel, etc...There are a few other items besides actually doing the install, such as visiting your home, taking inventory, preparing your load calculations and applying to the City for the permit (and paying the fees). They did all that for me, at no charge...How did it work for you?
     

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