A123 Systems

Taxpayer-Funded EV Company Abandons IPO It Thought Would Save It

Frito Lay Electric TruckThe failing British electric vehicle company that pretended to become an American one in order to save its U.K. investors has scrapped its planned initial public offering that it hoped would save it in Kansas City.

Smith Electric Vehicles, recipient of $32 million in taxpayer stimulus, had reportedly fantasized it would raise $76 million (down from $125 million) via an IPO by selling roughly 4 ½ million shares at $16 to $18 each. CEO Bryan Hansel bowed to reality Thursday night and rescinded those plans.

Government Stimulus Can't Overcome 100 Years of EV Battery Shortcomings

Nissan logoIt’s the battery.

Contrary to the excuses that Nissan has supplied about the loss of capacity for owners of the all-electric Leaf in the desert Southwest – especially super-hot Phoenix – a tightly-controlled test of a dozen of the vehicles showed that all of them experienced reduced range. Even a month-old Leaf could not recharge to 100 percent.

Taxpayer-Funded Electric Vehicle Maker Needs IPO Cash to Survive

Frito Lay Electric TruckSmith Electric Vehicles, which is using $32 million in taxpayer stimulus to practically give away its delivery trucks to corporations like Frito-Lay (owned by PepsiCo), Coca-Cola and Staples, is hemorrhaging money anyway and now is looking to an initial public offering to pay off debts and try to survive.

The Kansas City Star reported last week that Smith cut its production expectations and warning it is running low on cash, citing filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company announced nearly a year ago it would seek $125 million through an IPO, but now says it hopes to raise about $76 million at a stock price of $16 to $18, according to a Kansas City Business Journal report.

NASDAQ Delisting Threat Jeopardizes Chinese Rescue of A123 Systems

A123 logoTwo weeks ago the mainstream and clean tech advocacy media proclaimed that taxpayer-subsidized, failing electric vehicle battery maker A123 Systems would be saved by a deal with a Chinese company.

Since then the Massachusetts-based manufacturer’s stock price sank below what had been its previous low of 44 cents. This morning it is down to 38 cents, and yesterday the company received a delisting notice from the NASDAQ. So what happened?

Fisker Recalls Karma; EV Maker Blasted by Rival Elon Musk

A123 logoThe electric vehicle fire in Woodside, Calif. about a week ago has led to the third recall in the short life of taxpayer-subsidized ($193 million in stimulus) Fisker Automotive and its plug-in hybrid model, the Karma.

The first two recalls were caused by problems with batteries produced by Fisker’s similarly troubled supplier and business partner, A123 Systems. The company said this time the fire was caused by a failure in a cooling fan, which caused overheating while the vehicle’s owner shopped for groceries inside a store. About 2,400 Karmas – 1,400 of which are in the possession of customers – will need to be recalled.

New Fisker Fire, While Taxpayers Cover Utility Bills for Empty Plant

Fisker logoAnother government-funded electric vehicle has burned.

This time it’s the second fire in a Fisker Karma, which received $193 million out of a $529 million award from a Department of Energy loan guarantee before the cabinet agency cut the company off for failure to meet still-undisclosed milestones. This blaze (video), according to a report on the automotive Web site Jalopnik, occurred in a Woodside, Calif. parking lot while its owner was inside a store shopping for groceries.

Taxpayer-Funded A123 May Get a Chinese Bailout

A123 logoMonths ago, after they issued their most recent dismal quarterly earnings report, A123 Systems officials announced they would explore options in order to save the company, leaving the impression they were looking for a buyer. 

On Tuesday the heavily subsidized electric vehicle battery manufacturer released its latest financial bad news, but also disclosed that it also had a potential buyer – from China. According to media reports, just as A123 reported another $82.9 million in second-quarter losses, good news also magically materialized as Wanxiang Group Corp. was announced as a new investor. A123 had reported recently to the Securities and Exchange Commission that its ability to continue as a viable company was “a going concern.”

Consumers Complain Nissan Leafs Lose Power in Hot Weather

Nissan LeafSo far American taxpayers have been forced - through stimulus loan guarantees from the Department of Energy - to “invest” $1.4 billion in a Japanese car company to build an unproven, impractical, expensive vehicle at a Tennessee power plant.

And now it can’t stand the heat.

Nissan has been dealing with complaints from owners of its Leaf electric car who reside in hot-weather states like Arizona, who say their vehicles have lost range capacity.

Taxpayer-Backed Yet Cash-Poor A123 Stock Hits All-Time Low

A123 logoA week and a half ago cash-poor A123 Systems, recipient of $279 million-plus in federal money and millions more from the State of Michigan, announced it would access $39 million via a stock sale to institutional investors and the release of other cash after meeting requirements related to its existing reserves.

It has been downhill ever since – all the way down to its all-time low of 75 cents per share price Tuesday (and 69 cents Thursday morning). It may be too much for even these masters of the press release cycle to overcome by creating good news out of thin air.

A123's 'Positive Developments' Are All Too Predictable

A123 logo

This story has been updated at the end.

Seems like every time stimulus recipient battery-maker A123 Systems suffers bad news or a stock price hit, its leaders miraculously produce great news via press release that temporarily bumps shares higher.

The latest example came yesterday, when A123 announced a “technological breakthrough” called Nanophosphate EXT that officials claim would reduce or eliminate the need for cooling systems for overheating batteries, and lower the cost of electric vehicle batteries by $600. This followed news that A123 plans to hire 400 employees (125 were laid off in November) in the coming months, thanks to new contracts it has won. Apparently Wall Street was unjustifiably non-skeptical, as heavily subsidized A123 saw its stock price shoot up from $1.04 to $1.58 yesterday. A123 was given $249.1 million in stimulus funds to help launch two battery-manufacturing plants in Michigan, and also received grants and tax credits from the state that could total more than $135 million.

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