The Truth About Cars » shai agassi The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 17 Jul 2014 20:36:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » shai agassi Another One Bites The Dust: Better Place Bankrupt Mon, 27 May 2013 12:07:49 +0000

Better Place “filed a motion in an Israeli court to wind up the company, bringing an end to a venture whose battery charging network had aimed to boost electric car sales,” Reuters says.

Better Place, founded by former SAP executive (he never was SAP CEO, as often reported,) said it had the answer to three big problems of the electric vehicle: Charge time, range, and cost of the expensive battery. The idea was to swap the battery quickly, in many swap stations, and with batteries that are financed like a smartphone on a plan. Good idea, but it did not work.

The idea missed two important ingredients: Supply and demand. Sales of electric vehicles did not take off as hoped, and car suppliers did not want to standardize on batteries that can be changed like a AA cell. Better Place always talked up its “partnership” with Renault, which supplied the first batch of Fluence cars with a swappable battery. That partnership remained one-sided. Off the record, Renault executives kept their distance from the project and refused to mass market a car with a swappable battery.

Better Place said it wanted to move 100,000 of the Fluence ZE in Israel and Denmark by 2016. However, “just over a thousand cars are on the road in Israel and Denmark, the first two countries where Better Place began operating,” says Reuters.

Founder Shai Agassi was removed as CEO in October, his successor was replaced just four months later. Rapid changes at the top of a startup usually is a sign of impending passing of the company.

Founded in 2008, Better Place attracted $850 million in investments, which can be written off by names like Israel Corp., HSBC and Morgan Stanley. In a November earnings report published by Israel Corp, which owns about 30 percent of Better Place, it was said the company had an accumulated deficit of $561.5 million with more losses expected.

Coda, Fisker, A123, now Better Place: This hallowed publication always has been a bit doubtful when it came to the prospects of battery-operated locomotion. This hesitation is not driven by ideology. I am on record that I am strictly nondenominational when it comes to powertrains. I won’t argue if a two-cylinder fueled by woodchips is found better for the job than a turbine. But if someone tries to sell me on a car that takes eight hours to fill up, a car that needs an eight hour fill-up again when it barely got going, a car that costs double of what a comparable OTHER car would cost, then I will be a very reluctant customer.

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Ghosn Deals A Blow To Better Place Wed, 15 May 2013 17:14:35 +0000 swapstation4-450x300

Beleaguered EV start-up Better Place faced yet another blow this week, as Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn declared that rapid-charging, not swappable batteries, will be the predominant charging technology for EVs.

Israeli business outlet Globequotes Ghosn as saying

“When you look at the overall trends, we must conclude that replaceable batteries are no longer the main track for electric vehicles…The main trail is flat batteries in cars with charging. We believe that people want flexibility in the technology, and we can see that the demand is for rechargeable standard batteries.”

Ghosn stopped short of completely writing off Better Place and their battery-swap technology, but Ghosn made it clear that the focus would be elsewhere. Commercial fleets were one area where Ghosn identified potential demand for swappable batteries, due to a lack of downtime with charging the vehicles.

“There may be cases where people prefer replaceable batteries – as we have tried to include Israel and Denmark. Here we will continue to offer the Fluence with replaceable batteries. There may also be large companies, where they have a huge fleet of cars, and do not want to wait for charging. But it will not be the majority of the market, and going forward, our focus is on the charging technology, among other things look at our new Nissan Leaf.”

Increasingly efficient rapid-charging technology and a lack of demand for EVs has led to a downward spiral for Better Place’s fortunes. The company recently shuttered their American and Australian operations and gave founder Shai Agassi the boot.


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Shai Agassi Ousted From Better Place Wed, 03 Oct 2012 19:59:57 +0000

Shai Aggasi, the visionary behind the Better Place EV battery swap network, has been ousted, with Better Place Australia’s CEO replacing Agassi as global CEO.

The news comes from Just-Auto, which carried Better Place’s official statement on the management change. Agassi will stay on as a board member and retain his stake in the company. Better Place has lost nearly $500 million since its foundation in 2007.

BetterPlace customer IsraellyCool has some interesting takes on the company from the perspective of an Israeli customer. While their product, customer service and lease deals are second to none, their marketing is apparently second rate.

TTAC has long followed the progress of Better Place, with Ed-Emeritus Niedermeyer being a particularly enthusiastic fan. But recent shifts in the world order have struck a blow against EVs, whether it’s the newly accessible supply of tight oil and natural gas or the abandonment of EVs by major OEMs like Toyota. Better Place isn’t yet ready for the grave, but in the five years since it was launched, the climate has changed significantly (no pun intended) and the change in management may precipitate deeper structural changes as well.

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