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Better Place pulls US and Australian activities

Electric car infrastructure firm, Better Place is to wind down its operations in the US and stop investment in its Australian operations.

That means the firm will be left to focus on its activities in its home country of Israel and Denmark, as the company tries to gain control its finances.

Better Place with the Fluence

According to Forbes.com, the firm has lost some $500 million since its inception in 2005.

Better Place, famed for its unique approach to EV infrastructure, operates battery-swap stations, where electric cars can change a run-down battery for a fully charged one, for a ‘refuelling time’ more comparable to filling up a combustion car at the petrol station.

Partnering with the Renault-Nissan Alliance, Better Place first established swap station networks in Israel and Denmark where Renault Fluence Z.E cars could swap their batteries for instant recharge. Drivers buy the cars but pay a monthly fee for use of swap station batteries.

It is hoped that this swap station approach will prove more practical than waiting hours for a single battery to recharge.

Setbacks

While the idea is a practical solution to one of the main drawbacks of electric cars, the company has experienced a number of set backs in broadening its network to Australia, Canada, China, Hawaii and the San Francisco.

Now the firm is on its third chief executive in just a few months, following the departure of the company founder and former CEO, Shai Agassi back in October (see story).

Ousted by the Board of Directors, Agassi was replaced by Evan Thornley, who ran Better Place’s Australian operations. But Thornley lasted just three months in the job and was replaced by Better Place chairman, Idan Ofer last month, who took over some of the responsibility for the firm.

Better Place then named Dan Cohen, an executive in charge of the company’s strategic initiatives, as interim chief executive.

In a statement about the plans to wind-down North American activities and to stop Australian investment, Cohen said: “We have demonstrated that Better Place works as a concept. We need to prove to our customers, suppliers and investors that we have a sustainable, scalable model. To do so we are now focusing on realising the full potential of what we have built, and that means concentrating our resources and energy in the near term, on Denmark and Israel, where we have customers on the road enjoying our switching and charging networks.”

In a press release issued by the Tel-Aviv based company, the company said that sales of electric cars are ‘gathering momentum’ in Denmark and Israel and that there is complete infrastructure in place along with successful commercial operations.

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Faye Sunderland

Filed under: Electric cars

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