Ener1, electric-car battery maker, files for Ch. 11

Ener1 Inc., a manufacturer of lithium-ion and other batteries for plug-in electric cars, filed for bankruptcy protection in US Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan today, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.

Three years ago, Ener1’s EnerDel unit won a $118.5 million grant from the federal government as part of a $2.4 billion stimulus package designed to boost the electric car industry, CNN reported.

Last fall, two other renewable energy companies that had received federal support – solar panel manufacturer Solyndra LLC and energy storage company Beacon Power Corp. – filed for bankruptcy, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.

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According to CNN:

Unlike bankrupt Solyndra, the advanced solar panel maker that became a lightning rod for critics of Obama's stimulus spending when it closed its factory and liquidated, Ener1 promised its business will proceed as usual.

"The restructuring will not adversely impact their employees, customers and suppliers," the company said in a statement, CNN reported. Ener1 also said it would not be laying off employees.

Alex Sorokin, Ener1's interim chief executive, explained in the court filing that the company had been hurt by “intense competition” from Chinese and Korean rivals that have lower manufacturing costs, Reuters reported. The June 2011 bankruptcy of a major customer, Norway’s Think Global, and slow sales of electric cars also dented earnings, the filing said, according to Reuters.

The company said that it will be able to reduce its debt and free up $81 million for capital spending through the restructuring process, CNN reported.

"While it's unfortunate that Ener1, the parent company, has entered a restructuring process, the new infusion of $80 million in private capital demonstrates that the technology has merit," the US Department of Energy said in a statement, CNN reported.

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