The fortunes of the Better Place electric car and service network company, which began going downhill when founder Shai Agassi was fired from being international CEO in October, have not improved much despite receiving a $100 million investment boost by the Israel Corporation, its main shareholder last month. The start up company created a large amount of media buzz with its unique concept of opening networks of EV car battery switching stations in Israel and elsewhere to give the car’s lithium battery packs more driving range.
Engine compartment of a Better Place Renault Fluence ZE. What will happen now to those who have already purchased these cars?
This concept has more recently allowed the company to explore the idea of becoming more of an EV car gas station which could enable other types of electric cars to use the company’s recharging posts or stations.
The beleaguered company’s fortunes may now may retreat even faster following news in the Israeli Globes newspaper that the builder of Better Place’s 51 proposed battery exchange stations, the Baran Group, an international engineering, technological and construction consortium, is becoming ” very anxious” concerning the debt of more than NIS 54 Million ($ 14.25 Million) owed to Baran for constructing these stations around Israel.
This amount, according to the Globes article, is a third of the total amount needed to build all of the stations. Baran’s board of directors are now concerned as to whether Better Place will be able to meet its proposed business targets and told Globes that the situation is “under review” . Baran’s board told Globes that “as the situation changes, the company’s management and board of directors will review it and make the necessary decisions.”
The ultimate future of this company, and its EV service network concept and overall fortunes may work out better if outsourced to countries where electric car concepts are better received by both the government and the general public.
One such country, China, is itself developing electric cars as a way to cut down on air pollution due to the large numbers of new car owners taking their cars on Chinese motorways. As for the future of Better Place in Israel and for the more than 550 persons who have purchased these cars in Israel to date , two of whom we interviewed recently, seeing large numbers of Better Place EV cars on Israel’s streets and motorways is still a long way off from being a plausible reality.
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