Hit or Miss?: The Clock is Ticking on These 5 Greentech Deadlines


The turning over of a new year is a good time to take a look back at the claims that companies have made when it comes to milestones like starting commercial production, raising funds or building a major plant. Often times companies will publicly announce a goal for a certain date — to get media attention, to gain funding or partners, or to try to set a company on a specific path — but then the reality of the landscape sets in. The economy, competition, and startup growing pains can all make an “end of 2009,” deadline look like a highway sign post quickly speeding by. If some of these companies are going to deliver the goods by 2009, they’ve got, oh, four more days, while others have decided to push dates to 2010:

EEStor to ZENN: The CEO of electric vehicle maker ZENN, Ian Clifford, has been waiting for stealthy ultracapacitor company EEStor to deliver to Zenn its first commercial units by the end of this year, reported The Toronto Star in October. So? Well, we haven’t heard about that breakthrough yet and EEStor has been telling the media that 2010 is now the “make or break year.” Zenn has said it is basically betting the entirety of its business model on building vehicles around EEStor’s technology, so the milestone is kind of a big deal. Sounds like yet another missed deadline for the company.

Fisker’s First EV for 2010: Electric vehicle startup Fisker Automotive had been planning to launch its first vehicle, the luxury Fisker Karma, by the end of 2009. But Fisker saw the writing on the wall and said this month that it’s pushing that deadline back to September 2010. What Fisker has said is that it will announce in 2009 the supplier for its battery deal. Now we’re waiting to hear back from the company on that one.

Aptera’s First EV for 2010: Like Fisker, Aptera preempted an end-of-2009 deadline for its first vehicle, the electric 2e, by pushing back its target date for commercial production of its first EV to 2010. But commercial production and delivery to waiting customers “will be tied directly to funding,” said Aptera Motors CEO Paul Wilbur in a release in November. With those conditions 2010 could be the beginning of a slow demise for the three-wheeled car maker.

V-Vehicle and a DOE Loan?: The green car startup V-Vehicle is young but is already supported by $100 million in funding from a list of well-known investors including T. Boone Pickens and Kleiner Perkins. But according to local reports in Louisiana, much of V-Vehicle’s plans hang in the balance as it awaits word on critical government funding, which it expected in November.

Louisiana’s News Star quoted a V-Vehicle executive this month saying, “[W]e remain very confident that we’ll be approved for the loan,” though he added that “[W]e haven’t been given any timetable on when that might be.” No official word has come out yet from the DOE or V-Vehicle on when and if the startup will win approval for its $250 million low-interest loan request.

Verenium’s DOE Loan and First Plant: Like Fisker and Aptera, cellulosic ethanol developer Verenium had pushed back plans to break ground on its first plant in 2009 to 2010. In its earnings call in November the company said it is on track for “early 2012 as the commercial operations date for the first commercial unit.”

But that commercialization deadline is resting on a DOE loan guarantee, for which Verenium says it could get a term sheet as early as the first quarter of 2010, and at the same time the company’s deal with British petroleum giant BP for Galaxy Biofuels is set to conclude on January 31, 2010. The next couple of months could be make or break for Verenium if it fails to get a DOE loan guarantee, and doesn’t extend its BP Galaxy deal.

Image courtesy of Sister72’s Flickr stream, Creative Commons.


Wind Turbine

Boone Pickens has been lobbying for natural gas cars in the past but it is difficult to find out if this V car is going to be natural gas or electric. Hopefully it will be electric because electric can be easily powered by renewable sources like wind power. Hopefully a deadline will speed their development because they have abut 200 million dollars in the sidelines for the V car and that can create some real green jobs.

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