Manufacturing  February 2, 2024

Lightning eMotors’ asset sale ongoing; workers remain

LOVELAND — Work is winding down at Lightning eMotors’ facilities on the Forge campus in Loveland as the assets of the electric-vehicle company, which collapsed late last year, are being sold. However, former employees and a Loveland city official say some workers are still on the job there.

According to an 8-K report filed last week with the Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as a filing made last week in Larimer County District Court, Greenwood Village-based receiver Cordes & Co. has entered into an agreement with Gerco LLC to sell all Lightning’s assets for $12.6 million in cash.

The former main entrance to Lightning eMotors was in Building B at the Forge, which is now empty. Ken Amundson/BizWest

However, former employees, who don’t wish to be identified, say some assets have been sold to Livermore, California-based Gillig, a private company founded in 1890 that manufactures buses. They also said Gillig has made some offers of full-time jobs to some Lightning eMotors engineers.

Kelly Sage, economic-development director for the city of Loveland, said Friday that the last update she had received indicated that some workers are still on the job there in research-and-development roles, but that operations were being consolidated into the 140,000-square-foot Building A” on the Forge campus at 815 14th St. SW in Loveland, while Lightning had moved out of the 105,000 square feet it had leased in “Building B”.

“I’ve just been trying to stay on top of the layoffs they’re doing,” Sage said.

A visitor to the Forge campus on Friday reported that Building A’s windows were covered while Building B was empty. Scores of vehicles still occupied the parking lots.

Other former employees told BizWest that 40 to 45 people, mostly engineers, were still working at Lightning.

Calls to officials of Lightning, the court-appointed receiver, Gerco or Gillig have as yet not been returned.

According to court documents, proceeds from the sale of assets of the company, a provider of zero-emission medium-duty commercial vehicles and electric-vehicle technology for fleets, would be distributed by the receiver to the creditors of Lightning eMotors (OTC: ZEVY)  and its subsidiary, Lightning Systems Inc., “pursuant to their applicable priorities and as ordered by the court.”

According to a news release issued Jan. 25 by Lightning eMotors, “the company’s shareholders will not receive any distributions in the receivership or as a result of the transaction. The buyer under the asset purchase agreement does not intend to carry on the business of the company, including the business of selling and servicing of zero-emission vehicles.”

Stacks of materials fill Building A at the Lightning eMotors site and the parking ot outside. Ken Amundson/BizWest

Lightning’s 15-year journey was marked by rapid growth, pioneering innovations, major contracts, global acclaim and emergence into public trading using an alternative business tactic. In the final miles, however, its underpinnings were damaged by supply-chain challenges, the failure of a pair of battery makers, massive losses and a bevy of lawsuits that all led to the collapse of its share prices and delisting by the New York Stock Exchange.

Finally, on Dec. 14, Lighting eMotors told the SEC that its assets would  be sold, with proceeds going to creditors. That filing came a day after Greenwood Village-based private-equity firm Cupola Infrastructure Income Fund LLLP, which in October 2019 had provided Lightning with a $3 million working-capital line of credit as well as a $3 million term loan, sued in Larimer County District Court seeking appointment of a receiver to sell the company’s assets. Lightning said in its SEC filing that it “stipulated and agreed to the motion and proposed order to appoint Cordes and Co. as the receiver.

A court hearing this month will finalize the sales transaction.

Last March, Lightning sued Cypress, California-based Romeo Systems Inc., a now-defunct electric vehicle battery manufacturer, alleging that Romeo, which was purchased in fall 2022 by its largest customer, Phoenix-based Nikola Motor Co., reneged on a contract to supply its batteries to Lightning. When Larimer County District Court didn’t get a response from Romeo for more than three months, District Judge Juan Villasenor on June 28 entered a default judgment against Romeo saying that the battery supplier owned Lightning more than $9.8 million. However, on Jan. 25, Villasenor’s ruling was stayed and Lightning’s lawsuit was closed.

Lightning eMotors as seen Feb. 2, 2024. Ken Amundson/BizWest

Assets of Lightning eMotors are being sold as operations at the electric vehicle manufacturing facility in Loveland shut down.

Dallas Heltzell
With BizWest since 2012 and in Colorado since 1979, Dallas worked at the Longmont Times-Call, Colorado Springs Gazette, Denver Post and Public News Service. A Missouri native and Mizzou School of Journalism grad, Dallas started as a sports writer and outdoor columnist at the St. Charles (Mo.) Banner-News, then went to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch before fleeing the heat and humidity for the Rockies. He especially loves covering our mountain communities.
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