Apparently A Better Place For Better Place Is In Bankruptcy (UPDATE)
A billion dollars doesn’t go as far as it used to.
With nearly that amount, $800 million to be precise, invested into Better Place, and after only selling about 2,000 cars and setting up a small network of battery-swap stations, the Israeli company
is set to file for bankruptcy next week has filed for bankruptcy today. (see company press release below)
Truth be told, this is about the least shocking plug-in bankruptcy story told to date. The only amazing thing was just how long it took to get here.
Better Place’s gravestone could certainly reflect their mastery at the press release, and their ability to always raise more capital, as opposed to say…anything to do with electric transportation.
Almost 8 months ago Shai Aggassi, the founder, and private capital-rain maker, was ousted as the Better Place CEO, and we marked that moment as being the company’s time of death; since then Better Place has:
- had a revolving door of CEOs
- abandoned key areas they earlier had targeted for the company’s expansion, like Hawaii and Australia
- attempted (and failed) to raise new capital
- posted a loss of $454 million in 2012
- got issued a “going concern” warning by its chief backer
And even more recently, had to watch Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn basically and state the company was done with battery swap technology:
“When you look at the overall trends, we must conclude that the replaceable batteries no longer the main track for electric vehicles. The main trail is flat batteries in cars with charging. We believe that people want flexibility in the technology, and we can see that demand is rechargeable standard batteries.”
Renault, the maker of the Fluence ZE, and Better Place’s lone supplier of battery swap cars, noted that they would still produce the vehicle with swappable batteries in the countries it was currently marketed in, namely Israel, Portugal and Denmark, but only if there was demand. Which, as we know, there is not.
Six years ago when the company launched, Better Place had hoped that a huge network of battery swap stations would be accepted as the logical companion for the coming electric car craze, which was brought on by huge price increases at the pump, and a new global focus on climate change and pollution.
Over the next years, as electric cars were actually produced and offered for sale to the public, we learned that the “great electric car revolution” was really more like the “gradual electric car adoption,” and the 100,000 cars Shai Aggasi said Better Place was going to buy off Renault, as well as the company’s 50% market share by 2020, turned out out to be wild fantasy.
UPDATE: It’s over. Better Place filed for bankruptcy, as expected. See below for a portion of the company’s press release:
“Against that background, the most recent fundraising round was not successful. In recent months, the management of the company did all that it could to keep the business operating. Today, in the light of our obligation to our staff, customers and creditors, we are applying to the court for the appointment of a temporary liquidator.”
“The management is requesting the voluntary liquidator once appointed to decide as quickly as possible to award compensation to customers and staff and maintain the functioning of the network.”
A video look back to ‘greener’ days – Shai Agassi announces the “order for 100,000 cars with Renault” (0:55) to the media in Frankfurt Germany in 2010, as well as offers his 50% by 2020 projections (6:38).