The company declared bankruptcy in May, but today an Israeli court awarded the liquidation of its Israel-based assets and Swiss-based intellectual property to Yosef Abramowitz and a union of Better Place car owners, who are determined to continue building an open, national technology and serve platform for all current and future electric vehicles.
Better Place founder Shai Agassi had a great vision when he set out to bring both electric vehicles and state of the art battery charging systems to Israel.
He raised an extraordinary amount of money to realize his vision, which culminated in the construction of 37 charging stations, 2,000 curbside charging stands, and 1,000 electric vehicles driving around.
But it was expensive to build what is currently the world’s largest network of EV battery switching stations. Each cost $500,000, such that by the time the company called it quits, they had lost $800 million, according to the Times of Israel.
Plus the management team had lost site of its own vision and nobody, nobody being government officials, was willing to work with them.
Abramowitz, who founded Arava Power and Energiya Global in order to spread good will and solar energy as far and wide as possible, explained to the paper that Shai Agassi was trying to build a monopoly, instead of a national network that would benefit as many EV owners and developers as possible.
And with the country’s richest man, Idan Ofer, at the helm, the government was unwilling to offer any tax breaks. So they failed.
First Agassi was fired from the company he started, and then Better Place officially declared bankruptcy in May, after which the court swiftly appointed a liquidator to find a buyer for the company’s assets.
In the meantime, the 900 or so EV owners who had purchased a $44,000 Electric Renault Fluence from the company were very happy with their purchase and decided to form a lobby or union just before the company’s fall in order to protect not just their financial interests, but also the company’s original ideology.
If they are eventually charged with energy produced by the renewable energy, which is what Abramowitz proposed when Shai Agassi first got started, EV’s could go a long way to reversing some of the environmental damage we have done with gas guzzling cars.
“We are committed to maintaining the 2,000 charging spots and basic battery swap services for all current and future EV drivers in Israel,” said Efi Shahak, Chairman of the EV Drivers Association. “We thank the Court and liquidators for giving Israel a second chance to get it right.”
Whereas Agassi seemed to hoard his idea, Captain Sunshine and Shahak want to bust it open so that it functions as a cooperative that benefits not only Better Place cars, but all electric vehicles that will inevitably enter the country.
“Our vision is to transform the charging network into an open, national technology and service platform for all current and future EVs,” said Abramowitz.
“We look forward to Israelis soon driving and charging Teslas and other EVs that will save money for both drivers and government, fight climate change and keep our air clean.”
They have inherited a broken system, but they have also inherited a lot of intellectual property and investors have already committed to giving them 25 percent of the funds they will need to keep the company running for the next two years.
But they will need more.
“The Company is currently seeking new investment of up to $36 million (USD) by offering both equity and convertible debt participation. We are saving a dream here, so the valuation and terms will be investor-friendly,” said Abramowitz, who will co-chair the Company along with Shahak.
Already so well connected with government officials with whom he has cooperated to get his solar energy projects off the ground, Abramowitz is keen to help build a system that aims to do good, instead of a system whose main goal is to make money.
They expect to break even within 24 months.
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