Proterra, the electric bus company repeatedly celebrated by President Biden, filed for bankruptcy Monday, blaming various market “headwinds” for its financial struggles.
The California-based company filed a voluntary Chapter 11 reorganization under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in the District of Delaware to “strengthen its financial position.” Proterra said it would continue to operate its business as normal – including paying employee salaries and benefits, and compensating vendors and suppliers – during the process.
“The foundation we have built has set the stage for decarbonization across the commercial vehicle industry as a whole, and we recognize the great potential in all of our product offerings to enable this important transformation,” Proterra CEO Gareth Joyce said in a statement. “This is why we are taking action to separate each product line through the Chapter 11 reorganization process to maximize their independent potential.”
“While our best-in-class EV and battery technologies have set an industry standard, we have faced various market and macroeconomic headwinds, that have impacted our ability to efficiently scale all of our opportunities simultaneously,” he added. “As commercial vehicles accelerate toward electrification, we look forward to sharpening our focus as a leading EV battery technology supplier for the benefit of our many stakeholders”
The company confirmed the Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission late Monday.
Proterra, meanwhile, has been boosted by the Biden administration on multiple occasions since it took office in January 2021.
On April 20, 2021, Biden hosted a virtual White House event to spotlight Proterra’s business. During the event, Proterra executives took the president on a virtual tour of the company’s South Carolina manufacturing facility where its buses are assembled.
“I want you all to know I used to be a bus driver,” Biden remarked at the conclusion of the event. “You think I’m kidding, I’m not. I worked my way through law school driving a school bus.”
“I’m going to come down and see you in person. So, I look forward to seeing y’all,” he concluded.
Biden also touted his support for billions of dollars in federal funding to accelerate the adoption of zero-emission transit buses and school buses during the tour. He has set a goal for all buses made in America to be zero-emissions by 2030.
The president has since touted Proterra as an American electric vehicle success story in multiple speeches about his green energy goals.
Earlier this year, he even appointed Joyce, Proterra’s CEO, to serve on the White House Export Council, the principal national advisory committee on international trade.
“Gareth Joyce serves as Chief Executive Officer and Board Member at Proterra. Joyce brings to Proterra a long and distinguished career that spans the automotive, aviation, and consulting industries with a consistent focus on environmental sustainability and decarbonizing the transportation sector,” the White House said on Feb. 28.
“Through his leadership, Joyce is growing Proterra’s EV battery manufacturing footprint in the United States and accelerating the transition of transit and other commercial vehicles to zero emission solutions,” it added.
In addition, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm has faced widespread criticism for her ownership stake in Proterra.
Granholm had served on Proterra’s board before her confirmation to lead the Department of Energy and continued holding shares of the company for months after her confirmation.
“While we are pleased that Secretary Granholm has eventually done the right thing and divested herself from Proterra, many questions remain unanswered,” Michael Chamberlain, the director of Protect the Public’s Trust, said in May 2021 after Granholm sold her shares.
“While Secretary Granholm no longer owns the stock, the American public still deserves answers to why this perceived conflict lasted as long as it did.”