Thursday, October 27, 2011
There’s hardly anything left of Salinas’ great green hope, electric car maker Green Vehicles, which shuttered in July and filed for bankruptcy in August. With no intellectual property or patents, and not even a toolbox left in its Firestone Business Park showroom, there’s little equity left to divvy up among creditors – including the city, which contributed $535,000 to the enterprise and sued to recoup its money just weeks before the company filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Salinas will have to wait its turn. About 30 entities are trying to collect over $1 million from Green Vehicles.
On the list of creditors: former Green Vehicles president and co-founder Mike Ryan, and former company board member Timothy O’Donnell’s Los Gatos investment company, Nordam. They say they’re owed $300,000 and $200,000, respectively.
Ryan’s also planning to buy the company with the help of an undisclosed private equity firm. “I’ve already put a fair share of my own money into Green Vehicles, so investors understand that I’m well committed,” he writes by email.
Improbably, he has competition. Local developer Nader Agha, who owns commercial property throughout Monterey County, bid on Green Vehicles (but won’t say for how much). His message to Ryan’s firm: “If they want to bid on it, let them be my guest. I’ll beat them.”
Agha is determined to see three-wheeled electric cars, like Green Vehicles’ $20,000 Triac, take off. But other than about a dozen car bodies at a Chinese manufacturing plant, not much of the company remains.
“There isn’t a screwdriver, a wrench, nothing,” said Lynn Tomlinson, who conducted an inventory for federal Bankruptcy Trustee Marc Del Piero.
This Chapter 7 is unusually complicated, Del Piero says: “Most private-sector business bankruptcies don’t have government as their primary funding source.”
For three years, according to bankruptcy proceedings, Green Vehicles operated almost exclusively off the city’s contributions.