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Phoenix vehicle charging stations may be in jeopardy as manufacturer faces legal woes

Ecotality, which manufactures vehicle charging stations, is navigating uncertain waters after it filed for bankruptcy and was hit with class-action lawsuits claiming it mislead investors.

Ecotality, based in San Francisco with offices in Phoenix, declared bankruptcy on Sept. 16 and the business was auctioned on Tuesday. Potential bidders were required to submit their final bids by Oct. 7, according to the bid procedures order.

Ecotality maintains more than 40 charging stations in downtown Phoenix and about 915 throughout the Valley.

“This is a plan to keep the core network running as we are currently doing and to transition it to a new entity that will be able to keep it going and vibrant,” Chief Marketing Officer Joshua Katz said. “Ultimately, the future will be up to who is the long-term owner of the business. I can’t predict what will happen beyond that.”

If Ecotality were to shut down, there would be few charging stations remaining in downtown Phoenix and significantly less throughout the Valley.

Jeremy Legg, city of Phoenix economic development program manager, echoed Katz’s uncertainty about the company’s future. However, he said he wasn’t too worried about the impact the company’s bankruptcy might have on the downtown Phoenix business community in the near future.

“They don’t have a major employment presence here and their infrastructure is not that widespread at this point,” Legg said. “Obviously Phoenix wants all the businesses here, whether they’re headquartered here or not, to be successful.”

Jim Stack, president of Electric Auto Association’s Phoenix chapter, expressed similar sentiments. A potential closure of Ecotality’s Blink Network, the company’s brand of charging stations, wouldn’t have as big an impact as many might think, he said.

“Nope, I don’t think it would make much difference at all,” Stack said. “Very few people I know rely on their charging stations. There are so many more choices around.
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