Bankrupt Better Place Sold For $4.9 Million, Will Keep 15 Battery Swap Stations Open

4 years ago by Jay Cole 8

The Newly Re-Born Better Place Will Keep 15 Of 37 Existing Swap Stations operational

The Newly Re-Born Better Place Will Keep 15 Of 37 Existing Swap Stations operational

After raising (and subsequently losing) about $800 million dollars, a consortium of BP electric car owners called “Association for the Promotion of the Electric Car” and Sunrise Ltd lead by Yosef Abramowitz have been approved to buy Better Place.

The price?

According to Globes – 18 million shekels, which is about $4.9 million US dollars.

A Israeli Fluence ZE Gets A Swap

A Israeli Fluence ZE Gets A Swap

As well as acquiring Better Place Israel’s assets, the group has the option to buy BP Switzerland’s intellectual property for 25 million shekels more (around $6.8 million) subject to approval in that country.

Interestingly, the company still lists about $9.5 million in tangible assets after showing a loss of $454 million last year.

Why the low price then?

As reported by Army Radio, the new group headed by Yosef Abramowitz, said they would operate the company as a “going concern,” while agreeeing to retain at least 50 Better Place employees as well as keeping 15 of the company’s 37 battery exchange stations nationwide for at least to years.

Officially the three reasons this offer was chosen over a competing bid were:

  • the money was not conditional and will be paid this quarter
  • the offer has the support of Better Place customers
  • the commitment to continue battery swap station operations

Those swap stations were estimated to cost well in excess of $500,000 a piece just to get off the ground.  Given Better Place only found about 1,000 customers to purchase the NIS 160,000 ($44,000 USD) Renault Fluence ZE sedan with the battery swapping option, it is easy to see why the company was unprofitable.

Efi Shahak, one of the Better Place car owners in the successful group said (Via Times Of Israel:

“We see in this a national infrastructure worth hundreds of millions, and which is one of the most advanced in the world.  It’s an unbelievable number of working stations. This is [on the cutting edge of] the current technology of electric vehicles, and Israel is the only place that has it: 37 stations, 2,000 curbside [charging] stands and 1,000 cars. It doesn’t make sense to throw it out.”

Source: Globes, Times Of Israel

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8 responses to "Bankrupt Better Place Sold For $4.9 Million, Will Keep 15 Battery Swap Stations Open"

  1. Josh says:

    Ouch!!! That is 0.6 pennies on the dollar for investors (creditors).

  2. Assaf says:

    Good news for the car owners.

    Better Place set up a “pilot” that was in the wrong country, and was not really a pilot – rather, a full-scale national network before the customer base justified it. That, besides a zillion other cardinal mistakes and faux-pas.

    But those brave 1000 or so drivers (many of them, I presume, former employees who now have also lost their jobs) are not to blame. They have stuck with the electric car concept through thick and thin, and I’m glad that the court had the good sense to approve this arrangement. Hopefully their driver experience will help the switchable-battery concept find those niches in the EV world where it’s best suitable for

    1. kdawg says:

      I believe that is why Tesla is going to roll out swap stations based on demand.

      1. Assaf says:

        Yup, Tesla has a pretty straightforward economic thinking, while Better Place’s business model was always convoluted and creepy.

  3. Cavaron says:

    Those stations would be great “bases” for a Fluence ZE Taxi-Fleet…

    1. Assaf says:

      Hopefully.

  4. Schmeltz says:

    Wow. When I saw “$4.9 million” in the headline, I thought there was a typo, and the decimal place was off! Ouch! Investors took the mother of all baths on that one.

  5. Ocean Railroader says:

    The question I have about the future of this system is that are they still selling cars that still have swappable batteries for these stations. Such as is their the possibility that the numbers for this small system could they keep growing if the models of cars swappable batteries being sold.

    At least with Tesla they are making 400 new cars a week that can have swappable car batteries which in away is like a steadily growing customer base for any swap system they have planned.