Troubled EV charging pioneer shuts down U.S. and Australian operations
By: SGN Staff
Quick Take: Much hyped Better Place has turned out to be a worse place at the end of the day. After sucking in more than three-quarters of a billion dollars in venture funding, the firm is retreating to Israel and Denmark in a last-ditch effort to survive.
The firm is the latest reminder that venture investors are not necessarily any smarter than the rest of us. Better Place was founded on an idea that was dead stupid â€“ namely, to swap out electric car batteries at service stations to give EVs a more extended range. As you might expect, it was virtually impossible to get major automakers to agree to standardize on a battery size and location, so Better Place's automated stations work only in countries where standards have been mandated.
Read the story below. But don't take this failure as the death knell for all electric vehicles. Cars such as the Tesla Model S and the Chevy Volt suggest that EVs will gradually improve in capability and grow in popularity. - Jesse Berst
Better Place, the once high-flying EV charging and battery swapping station company, is scaling back operations in the U.S. and Australia. While the company says it will honor existing commitments to partners and customers in those regions, it plans to focus its business elsewhere: Israel and Denmark. It's not a huge surprise considering the company's chronic cash flow problems.
Better Place's recent history seems to have set the stage for the U.S. and Australia cutbacks. CEO Shai Agassi was replaced in October 2012 and his successor stayed at the helm for only a few months.
Under Agassi, the company had raised about $800 million but was losing money faster than revenues were replacing it before and at the time of his departure, according to an earlier Smart Grid News report. That and only one car maker, Renault, has agreed to build cars that are compatible with Better Place battery swapping stations.