As expected, Ecotality is bowing out. The electric vehicle charging station maker just filed for bankruptcy protection and plans to auction off its assets next month. Ecotality and five affiliates filed for Chapter 11 protection Monday at the US bankruptcy court in Phoenix, AZ. The charging station company said eight parties would like to bid on its assets, and that it would like to hold an auction on October 9. Closing of the auction is expected to happen within two days.

The bankruptcy filing appeared to be in the making during the past few weeks. Charging station sales were down, its anticipated Minit Charger was shut down and the US Department of Energy (DOE) suspended stimulus payments that Ecotality had been depending on. Making matters worse, several investors recently filed lawsuits against the company. This time, Ecotality stated that "significant liquidity constraints and the difficulty of obtaining long-term financing," make an auction necessary to avoid a "fire-sale liquidation."

Nissan North America will provide up to $1.25 million of financing to keep Ecotality operating during the bankruptcy, as long as the court approves. According to the court filing, the DOE is owed $6.5 million as the largest unsecured creditor to Ecotality's affiliate Electric Transportation Engineering Corp. A hearing has been scheduled for September 19 to start the bankruptcy proceedings, including deciding whether Ecotality could be allowed to pay employees and vendors.

Ecotality has not yet issued an official statement on the matter, and the company's last press release (issued in early August) says it "will continue to operate the Blink Network and maintain our Blink chargers until further notice."