By on May 27, 2013

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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16 Comments on “Another One Bites The Dust: Better Place Bankrupt...”

  • avatar

    The only way to make an electric car with this design succeed is if you have a totalitarian government who forces everyone to have this type of car and then implements an infrastructure based solely on this type of technology.

    People, deep down, don’t want their cars “taken apart” each time they need to recharge.

    The bigger problem is that unless you have a country or infrstructure designed solely around electricity production using solar, nuclear, etc – with charging points everywhere, no one really wants a small EV.

    My solution: BUY MORE TESLA STOCK.

    • 0 avatar

      @bigtrucksreview- Why don’t you get your head out of your ass long enough to realize just how stupid you sound?

      Keep on gloating when said companies fail.

      One day, we’re gonna run out of oil and the world is gonna be fucked. Oh right, we’re pretty damn close to that already.

      But keep on holding your nose high in the clouds and burning all the oil that you can.

      Frack it, ship through weak pipelines and watch the people grumble when those same pipelines leak, spill and destroy the drinking water for thousands, if not possibly millions of people.

      Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

      That’s TTAC in a nutshell. A dinosaur that steadfastly refuses to accept that we need alternate forms of energy. Instead, you spend hours upon hours pointing out failures of electric cars, hoping that you’ll be vindicated in your guiltless burning of countless gallons of oil.

      Dinosaurs, I say.

      • 0 avatar

        Mr Vice,

        You are among the long line of doom and gloom predictors of human demise going back hundreds of years – and yet we are still here and doing better than ever on most counts. Major westerns cities have cleaner air and water than at anytime in the last 100+ years, average lifespans are increasing everywhere, and instead of starving to death from a lack of food as many have predicted, we are battling obesity due to the vast amount of great tasting cheap foods that modern technology allows. Similarly, the gloom and doom types such as yourself have been predicting that carbon based fuels were “just about to run out” for over 100 years, and yet today we have more proven reserves than ever before. On the other hand, experts such as yourself have been predicting that we are 10 years away from mass-market electric cars since the 1960s, and they still aren’t here. You buy your Tesla stock and I’ll buy Ford stock, and we’ll see who is in the black in 10 years, but if I were you I wouldn’t count of that stock to fund your pension.

      • 0 avatar

        “bigtrucksreview” knows sweet FA about trucks, let alone ‘big ones’.

        Everybody with a clue knows that big commercial rigs are already running without human drivers in mines all over the planet. They’ll be on US highways soon, but ‘tard-boy will insist that it isn’t happening even while it is.

        He’s just another old-skool low-info who doesn’t have the iq points to understand or comprehend the future. It’s OK, I’m sure he’s got a Chrysler 300 and thinks it’s da bomb.

        More chlorine for the shallow end of the gene pool…

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Gordon

      Big Truck Series 28 April 2011:

      “I feel like my idea has been ripped off. I was saying for a long time that charging via cord was a stupid idea and it wouldn’t work well in many places – and that the best way to make EV’s would be a standardized battery that could be swapped like a Propane tank. I seriously thought I came up with that.”

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    The needs of the market change faster than the early adopters and math-challenged eco-weenies can breathe in the rainbow colored farts of the flying unicorns.

  • avatar

    Maybe they should sell them to the captive market in Gaza.

  • avatar

    Range issues aside, I thought that the (relatively) quick change battery module idea had more promise than the fixed battery concept. At least it solved the stand-around-for-hours-watching-your-battery-charge issue. Apparently the whole electric concept is still too novel. Given enough time the manufacturers will possibly accept standardization as they do with many aspects of ICE cars. You wouldn’t get very far trying to market a car that required a 19 volt battery that ran on a unique blend of fuel that had a copyrighted cloverleaf-shaped nozzle opening.

    • 0 avatar

      “I thought that the (relatively) quick change battery module idea had more promise than the fixed battery concept.”

      From Tesla’s Form 10-Q filed 10 May 13:

      “our capability to rapidly swap out the Model S battery pack and the development of specialized public facilities to perform such
      swapping, which do not currently exist but which we plan to introduce in the near future;”

      • 0 avatar
        Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

        I think Tesla would do better with Phinergy’s aluminum-‘burning’ range extenders than to have battery swapping (which would be quite tricky for batteries that have cooling plumbed into the car’s loop), but if they could get Better Place for 5c on the dollar…

    • 0 avatar

      I always felt the the BP model was a brilliant concept, but as Gslippy has often pointed out, a standard battery design was unlikely to ever be adopted across a wide range of vehicles/mfrs. The requirements for the battery packs are necessarily going to be specific to the vehicle design. It will be interesting to see if Tesla can make the concept work for their models, tho.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    There was a scathing story about Agassi, that argued that he was more of a snake oil salesman than a visionary.

  • avatar
    healthy skeptic

    The company is now in a Better Place.

    It had to be said!

  • avatar

    Better Place is bankrupt, as it should be.

    Bertel – I don’t get the logic of lumping lousy companies & products like Coda, Fisker, A123, and Better Place in with successful ones like Nissan and Tesla. This is not an “EV” issue, it’s a matter of execution. EVs can enjoy success in their niche.

  • avatar

    Today on “I Told You This Day One”…

    It was an untenable con-job with a huckster at the helm. That everyone couldn’t see that from his first radio interview (in the RF days when I told you he was headed for BK) causes me to lose more faith in humanity.

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