Better Place Looks To Swap For Fourth CEO In Last Four Months

JAN 19 2013 BY STAFF 7

About four months ago, long time CEO and founder, Shai Aggasi was ousted by a disgruntled Board of Directors at Better Place (formerly known as Project Better Place), then Moshe Kaplinsky who replaced Agassi decided the job wasn’t for him either, and left a few weeks later.

Shai Agassi, Removed As CEO Of Better Place 4 Months Ago

Ultimately, the Board decided on Evan Thornley (formerly CEO of Better Place Australia) has their hand-picked guy to turn around the beleaguered battery-swapping business.

Unfortunately, that love affair did not last too long as BP continued to lose money, and there was reports (specifically by Alan Gelman, chief financial officer and head of operations) that Thornley and the Board were not seeing eye to eye.

“We at times were too focused on turning into a global company and expanded too fast, but we have to focus on local operations and selling cars,” Gelman told Reuters. “Most time and effort will be on operations in Israel and Denmark.”

Which read to us like, “the executive Better Place hired to bring the business to Australia, did not immediately abandon that market to focus on something else, so he was let go.”

Mr. Gelman, who runs things in Isreal, and Johnny Hansen, who runs things in Denmark, will temporarily run the company until a replacement is found.  In light of these changes, we don’t think it is too hard to figure out which two Board members were the most dis-satisfied with Mr. Thornley’s performance.

Israel Corp, which owns about a third of Better Place, said company had lost about $561.5 million top date and that more losses were expected.  To date the company has sold about 600 cars in Israel.


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7 Comments on "Better Place Looks To Swap For Fourth CEO In Last Four Months"

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Well.. this is one aspect of EVs I’ll be happy to see go under. I think the whole battery swap idea is a terrible idea for many different reasons. The only advantage is more driving range, but the disadvantages are many.. at least 10, and they all outweigh that single advantage.

And I think with the PHEV market growing, the whole range issue is going to disappear. I think the PHEV sales will be mainstream for the next decade or so while the charging infrastructure is built out..

David, why dont you list those 10 reasons so we can shoot them down one by one?..

OK.. Here’s some of the reasons I think it is a bad idea: 1) It would require all manufacturers to use a standard battery, which would virtually stop any technological advancements in future batteries. 2) It would require each vehicle to use the same size/capacity of battery, which again would be bad for innovation as many auto makers are still experimenting with which capacity is the best compromise between size/price/range. 3) It would require the car to be built “around the battery” instead of giving manufacturers the flexibility to put the battery wherever they want. Again – reducing innovation. 4) Running a battery-swap station would be nearly impossible to do for a profit. If you calculate the cost of keeping the batteries on hand, the cost of the property, the cost of the automated equipment to change it, maintenance workers, etc.. You’d have to charge customers several hundred dollars per swap just to pay the bills, that is assuming you could find several dozen people willing to pay that every day. At the current rate of usage, you’d probably need to charge each customer $1,000 a piece. Compare that to the cost of operating a quick-charge station. So the swap… Read more »

Of course, there are many more reasons. For example…

Because of the complexity, they will never be as reliable as simple charging. Especially during the winter, when the bottom of your vehicle is a block of ice and grunge. This lack of reliability will make swapping unappealing to customers.

With fast charging now becoming completely viable, there will soon be no valid reason to swap batteries.

Because of all these fundamental problems, most EV makers will avoid battery swapping like the plague, as they have been. So at best, Better Place will remain a small risky niche of the still small EV niche.

IMHO … all of the above problems explains why their CEOs are now dropping like flies. Once each CEO realizes they’re piloting a sinking ship … a ship that never should have launched in the first place … they quickly jump off. The two most impressive things about Better Place are how Shai was able to get this pig to fly, and how long he has been able to keep this pig in the air. But there is no question … the pig is about to crash.

You forgot:
It’s too expensive.

They’re CEO’s are like thier batteries. When one wears out, plug in another one!

Would be better/easier to just do a car swap. Sort of like Zip car. Take your car the station, plug it in, drive off on a different one that is fully charged. You could have the radio/music/seat settings stored in a USB flash drive.

Just a thought…