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Electric car charging network Ecotality finds buyer

Ecotality, an electric car charging network that has long struggled financially, has found a buyer. The Car Charging Group has purchased Ecotality's Blink network of electric car charging stations for $3.3 million.

By Stephen EdelsteinGuest blogger / October 14, 2013

A sign is painted on a parking space for electric cars inside a car park in Hong Kong. The first car to use regenerative braking technology, now nearly standard on electric cars, debuted in 1967.

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The assets of the long-struggling Ecotality electric-car charging network have a buyer.

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The Car Charging Group announced it has purchased Ecotality's Blink network of charging stations for $3.3 million.

The purchase includes approximately 12,450 240-volt Level 2 charging stations, 110 DC quick-charging stations, and other assets pertaining to the operation of the network.

Two Ecotality branches--Minit-Charger and Etec Labs--were not included in the sale. 

Minit-Charger manufactures quick-charging systems for commercial applications, and Etec Labs conducts tests for the government and OEMs. They were purchased by Access Control and Intertek, respectively.

Ecotality filed for bankruptcy last month, but it had been in trouble for some time before that.

Among other challenges, the Blink charging stations were rated significantly less reliablethan those provided by the ChargePoint network, according to a study by Tom Saxton of Plug-In America.

Ecotality subsequently recalled 12,000 charging stations--representing virtually its entire network--to fix manufacturing and design defects.

The bulk of Ecotality's revenues were derived from the EV Project, a Federally-funded program that provided free public charging for a limited time to gather data on drivers' behavior, mileage, and charging patterns.

The company would have had to find a majornew source of revenue as the EV Project wound down, but its failure to meet certain contract obligations saw the Department of Energy suspend its payments in August.

Nissan pumped $1.25 million into Ecotality to keep it afloat. Hundreds of Leaf plug-in car drivers use the Blink network's Level 2 and DC quick charging stations regularly.

Ecotality currently owes the DOE $6.5 million, and has two cost-sharing grants with the agency totaling $126.6 million, Bloombergreports. Its total debt is estimated at around $500 million.

Ecotality's Blink network isn't the first electric-car charging network to be bought by the Car Charging Group.

Earlier this year, the company acquired Beam Charging, EVPass, and 350Green in an effort to expand its network.

In its existing network, Car Charging uses charging stations manufactured by ChargePoint; it has agreements with dozens of organizations to provide public electric-car charging at retail locations, parking garages, and other locations.

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