Azure joins Think in bankruptcy protection. Is the Electric Vehicle revival doomed? Insight from an insider.
March 27, 2012
March 27, 2012
Azure Dynamics filed for bankruptcy protection last night. The news stung. I have friends that work there. Even if anyone following the stock could see that cash was needed, and knowing this will let them emerge stronger than ever, it stings when the headline is read.
As the Italian Stallion says “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows”. And this is all too true in our industry. It’s an industry being reborn. And the process isn’t pretty.
We’re close to $4 gas. The amount of oil America imports is an issue. Many organizations are ramping up their sustainability efforts. All of these should be fueling the sales of the hybrid and electric vehicles Azure builds. So why is Azure struggling?
Electric vehicles are available, kind of. The Volt, the Leaf, the Transit Connect Electric, and i-MiEV. A number of models will be added to the roster this year. But let’s not kid ourselves; if Eastwood says it’s half-time America, the electric vehicle industry has barely hit the pregame. And the basic truth in this industry is: real money doesn’t flow until the game begins. We need to hit volume.
And volume is going to take time. There are early adopters. Then there is everyone else. And everyone else wants to see how the initial experiences with EVs go. EVs are a different beast; with range anxiety, battery lifetime questions, and a price structure that has more upfront cost and lower operating costs. It will take time. And it won’t be easy.
We didn’t sign up for easy.
Energy security matters. Reducing the impact of gas prices on our wallet matters. Having mobility with sustainability matters.
So in the long run, my bet’s on efficiency. We will all want/need the vehicle that is best for our particular needs. For some that will be an electric vehicle. Some a plug-in hybrid. Some a hybrid. Some conventional.
But until then, we need to be financially sharp. Lean. As efficient as the powertrains we develop. That’s our staying power. And for the talented team at Azure [the Transit Connect Electric is one of the best EVs I’ve had the chance to drive].
And when 70mpg vehicles are so common they’re boring, my friends at Azure will get to quote another orator of our time: “don’t call it a comeback. we’ve been here for years”.