Another Solyndra? Electric car battery maker facing financial hardship

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A company whose subsidiary received $118 million in stimulus grant money from the U.S. Department of Energy to build new electric car batteries has now been removed from trading on NASDAQ.

EnerDel got an Energy Department grant in early 2010 for battery manufacturing in Indiana but the stock of EnerDel's parent company, Ener1, fell from $4.04 in 2010 to just 9 cents on Thursday. By Friday NASDAQ had pulled the company from its listing leaving the stock at $0.00.

NASDAQ took action after sending the company a notice saying it was out of compliance for failing to file its June 30th financial quarterly filing. The company notified shareholders back in August that two of the company's quarterly filings "should no longer be relied upon" and the company would have to re-do their financial statements.

"Once we get our financials restated, we'll look at what our options are for getting re-listed," Ener1 spokesperson Brian Sinderson told CBS News. Sinderson says the company is now traded on the over the counter market.

In late September, Ener1 replaced its CEO Charles Gassenheimer. Sinderson said the company felt it needed to change leadership due to the stock's performance.

The company says they have about 250 employees working at their three facilities in the Indianapolis area.

EnerDel reported to the Energy Department in their latest stimulus report that they had spent $53 million in taxpayer funds to date. At its peak, in the summer of 2010, the company employed 253 people with federal funds according to government records. Today the company reports that stimulus funds support 33 jobs.

Sinderson says for the company's facilities in Indiana there are no immediate hiring needs, "Right now I think we are pretty well staffed the way we are," but he added, "That could change tomorrow."

EnerDel notes in its stimulus spending reports that the project is more than 50% completed. The company would not disclose how many batteries it makes a month at its facilities in Indiana.

A spokesperson for the Energy Department, Damien LaVera said in an email statement to CBS, "The Department is closely monitoring the status of the company. So far $55 million of the grant has been paid out to EnerDel. Any additional funds received from the government would need to be matched dollar for dollar with their own investment."

LaVera noted that EnerDel received "broad bipartisan support and to date has progressed according to schedule and on budget."

At the same time that EnerDel got the stimulus grant in 2009, the company acquired a third of the Norwegian electric car maker Think Global which also had a production facility in Indiana. But the company went bankrupt earlier this year. Think Global's subsidiary was bought by a new company which now runs the plant in Elkhart, Indiana. Elkhart Mayor Dick Moore says Think America initially said they would hire 415 employees. Today there are only about a dozen working at the plant according to the mayor. However, he said, "We're optimistic, we need the jobs very badly."

  • Laura Strickler

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