Electric Powertrain Maker Files for Bankruptcy Protection

Azure Dynamics, a maker of electric powertrains and other parts for commercial vehicles, has filed for bankruptcy protection, the latest sign of turmoil in the electric-vehicle industry.

Electric Powered Transit Connect

Along with providing power for the electric version of the Ford Transit Connect, Azure Dynamics builds electric powertrains and battery systems for delivery vans, plug-in hybrid trucks, hybrid buses, and similar vehicles.

Having failed to raise sufficient funds through a company stock offering, the electric drivetrain manufacturer laid off 120 employees, 55 of whom were employed at its Oak Park, Michigan facility, reports Detroit Free Press.

The company, which had been doing much of its work in Oak Park, laid off 120 employees on Monday (April 9), including 55 in Oak Park.

It also stopped production and shut its Oak Park headquarters and other offices, except for a location just outside of Vancouver, British Columbia, where the company is now based.

Mike Elwood, Azure’s vice president of marketing, said the company is restructuring its operations after failing to win approval from the Ontario Securities Commission for its plan to sell more stock.

Out of juice? Ford Transit Connect electric drivetrain supplier files for bankruptcy.

He said Azure, which is now operating with about 35 to 40 workers, intends to continue supporting vehicles that use the company’s parts.

“We fully intend to be back and moving forward, but we have to reorganize,” Elwood told the Detroit Free Press.

“We still believe that electric vehicles are a part of the solution going forward.”

Elwood blamed Azure’s financial problems on poor electric vehicle sales, tight capital markets, and the European financial crisis.

Azure, which was founded in Canada in the late 1990s, manufactured electric powertrains for the Ford Transit Connect Electric, an electric cargo van, and hybrid electric bus, and van delivery platforms, among other products.

The company lost $26.1 million in the first nine months of 2011, up from a net loss of $17.7 million during the same period in 2010.

Financial results have not yet been released for the fourth quarter of 2011.

As of March 1, Azure’s biggest shareholders were Shell Asset Management, Black Rock Investment Management, RBC Asset Management, and Johnson Controls’ Canadian subsidiary.

In early February, Azure Dynamics reported that it had taken orders for another 45 electric Transit Connects—20 in Europe and 25 in North America. The company has taken a claimed $32 million in orders for the electric Transit Connect.

This isn’t the first shakeup involving the Transit Connect and its conversion company.

Azure Dynamics, a maker of electric powertrains and other parts for commercial vehicles, has filed for bankruptcy protection.

Ford originally partnered with English EV firm Smith Electric in 2009 to transform the Transit Connect into an electric van, but by the end of the year, both parties mutually dissolved the contract, reports Truck Trend.

Smith claimed it instead wanted to focus its capital and resources on its own vehicle development programs.

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Worth Pondering…
As Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

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