By Paul Homewood
President Biden frequently extolled an electric vehicle company — in which his energy secretary heavily invested — before it declared bankruptcy on Monday.
Bay Area-based electric bus and battery maker Proterra filed for Chapter 11, with CEO Gareth Joyce citing “various market and macroeconomic headwinds that have impacted our ability to efficiently scale.”
The EV firm, which sold more than 1,300 electric buses to public transit systems in the US and Canada, was valued at $1.6 billion when Biden, 80, took office in January 2021 — but closed with a market value of $362 million, according to Reuters.
In 2021, the president pledged more than $10 billion from his $1.9 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan toward zero-emission transit and school bus programs.
He has promoted Proterra several times since taking office, and once virtually toured a facility.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm raked in $1.6 million in profit after selling hundreds of thousands of shares in May 2021, months after she had first pledged to do so.“
“Right now we’re running way behind China, but you guys are getting us in the game,” Biden said in April 2021. “We’re going to end up owning the future, I think, if we keep doing what we’re doing.”
At the time of the tour, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm held between $1 million and $5 million in stock of the electric vehicle company, The Washington Free Beacon reported, prompting ethics concerns and calls for her divestment.
Granholm raked in $1.6 million in profit after selling hundreds of thousands of shares in May 2021, months after she had first pledged to do so. She served on Proterra’s board from February 2017 until just before her Senate confirmation hearing in January 2021.
Philadelphia purchased a fleet of Proterra buses in 2019 that had to be taken out of service in February of the following year due to defects, the local National Public Radio affiliate reported.
According to WHYY, sources familiar with the situation blamed a defect in the buses’ plastic chassis that led to cracking.