Better Place closes up shop in U.S., Australia

The electric car infrastructure company, whose founder envisioned a network of battery-swapping stations, is turning its attention toward two core markets.

Electric car infrastructure company Better Place is winding down its U.S. and Australian operations to focus on its two core markets: Israel and Denmark.

Better Place will close its U.S. headquarters, located in Palo Alto, Calif., and says it will limit any further investment in Australia beyond its current commitments. The company indicates it could resume its battery-swapping infrastructure plans in these markets when circumstances permit.

Better Place was founded in 2005 by Israeli entrepreneur Shai Agassi to solve the limited range of battery-powered electric vehicles. As I've noted before, the limited range of today's batteries has resulted in range anxiety , the fear an electric vehicle will run out of juice and leave its driver stranded. It's been one factor that has slowed EV sales.

Agassi's vision was to build up a network of EV charging spots and battery-switching stations, which would allow drivers to swap out a depleted battery for a new one within minutes and extend the car's range.

The idea has gained traction in markets like Israel and Denmark, where EV sales are gaining momentum, said Better Place. But it never really took off in the United States.

The company, once a darling among investors that was valued at $2.25 billion at the time of its last funding round, also has gone through several leadership changes in recent months.

Agassi was replaced as CEO in October by Evan Thornley, who, at the time, was CEO of Better Place Australia. Just three months later, Thornley was ousted and Idan Ofer, chairman of the company's board, assumed an executive chairman role. Alan Gelman, global CFO for Better Place was supposed to manage the day-to-day operations. However, today's statement from Better Place listed Dan Cohen, the former vice president for strategic initiatives, as its CEO.

Photo: Better Place


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