Following Sunday’s news that Israel’s Better Place has declared bankruptcy we have to ask: what is going to happen to the 900+ car owners who signed on for the electric deal, one that promised switchable batteries at 37 stations throughout Israel? We speak to one car owner to find out.
Turns out it is still a waiting game: Just how are Better Place car owners reacting to the bad news? One of them, David Rose, who lives in the Galilee region and was one of the first to purchase an electric car said that like other purchasers, he is still waiting to deal with the company liquidators.
He also said that the service network, including the 37 battery exchange stations are still operating normally: “I don’t know for how long this will be, but we have been told that we will receive advance notice otherwise,” he adds.
He said that he and his wife a have put over 48,000 km on their car since receiving it in early April, 2012; including driving twice to Eilat. “Driving to Eilat in this car is a real dream drive. It’s too bad the Israeli public didn’t catch on to the idea of this unique driving network,” he says.
Rose doesn’t believe that Tesla Motors will come to Israel, as recently rumored on Israeli TV, especially under the present circumstances. “Don”t hold your breath regarding Tesla coming in and taking over the Better Place service network. Tesla cars are too expensive for Israel and won’t sell any better than the Renault Fluence cars offered by Better Place,” he tells Green Prophet.
How did this problem roll out? Better Place bankruptcy signs were on the wall late 2012 when its “Steve Jobs” Shai Agassi was fired. It took about half a year, this past Sunday for a bankruptcy announcement.
In the aftermath of the bankruptcy announcement by Better Place’s management, speculation by media commentators and journalists began to appear regarding the future of the company and its existing service network of battery charging “stations” and 37 battery swapping locations, now in place.
One Globes article quoted an official receiver Prof. David Hahn, who was appointed to deal with creditors owed money by Better Place. Prof. Hahn said: “Better Place’s condition means that there is no choice but to appoint a liquidator for the group’s companies.”
He went on to say that Better Place lost $454 million in 2012 and has a cumulative loss of $812 million. These amounts are against revenues of only $7 million earned in 2012, combined with a “negative cash flow from operations.”
Another Globes article stated that spokesmen for the Renault Group suppliers of both the car model sold by Better Place as well as the expensive lithium battery pack that supplied the car’s power included a lien of Euros 65 million against the company for money it claims is due.
It will be hard to imagine that the 37 electric battery switch stations will keep operating under these dire circumstances. Better Place car owners are invited to comment below on service levels or claims. They may have a legal case in getting money returned to them.
Read more on the demise of Better Place:
Can Tesla Take Over Israel’s Better Place Recharging Stations
Better Place Bankruptcy is a Sad Day for Electric Car Industry
Renault Gives Up on Israel’s Better Place Swappable Car Batteries