Shai Agassi Out As CEO Of Better Place Electric-Car Service

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Renault Fluence ZE electric cars in Israel, provided by Better Place [photo: Better Place]

Renault Fluence ZE electric cars in Israel, provided by Better Place [photo: Better Place]

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Shai Agassi, founder of Better Place, which provides electric-car services to customers in Israel, is no longer CEO of the company, the firm has confirmed.

In an official statement posted earlier today, the company said that Agassi has been replaced by Evan Thornley, previously CEO of Better Place Australia. 

Agassi will retain his position as a member of the Better Place board of directors, the company said, and will also continue to own his shares in Better Place. 

The firm’s official statement remains impartial and professional, but many headlines--including those from Israeli news sites--cast doubt on the reasons for Agassi’s departure. 

The Times Of Israel claims that “Better Place removed its founder from the company’s top job on Tuesday, as the firm struggles to gain a foothold in the automobile market,” citing financial problems

Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post reports that “Better Place dismissed Shai Agassi as chief executive officer.”

Better Place Battery Swap Station

Better Place Battery Swap Station

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As Globes reports, Better Place has lost a total of $490 million since it was founded.

One company, the Israel Corporation, owns 32 percent of the company, bearing some $160 million of those losses.

“Under Shai’s leadership, we’ve successfully achieved our goals in the first chapter of Better Place," said Idan Ofer, Chairman of the Better Place Board of Directors.

"We owe Shai our gratitude for turning his powerful vision into a reality."

“It is almost five years to the day since Shai launched Better Place," Ofer continued, calling the timing "a natural point in the company’s evolution to realign for its second chapter and for the challenges ahead.”

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Comments (8)
  1. That is big news.

    Though many companies in the EV marketplace have struggled, it seems like Better Place has particular challenges.

    Their revenue seems to come from the monthly battery fees which will not amount to much until a lot of cars are sold. They are working to have customers to pre-pay 4 years worth of fees to bring revenue forward. Let's just hope those customers are not left holding the bag if the enterprise collapses.

    I hope they pull through this moment of struggle.

  2. not good. looks like EV sales are simply not strong enough yet to support the EV charging infrastructure but at the same time, people need to know that they can get around without having to worry about whether they can make it or not

  3. Shai Agassi really was Mr. Better Place. His departure as CEO indicates that the whole initiative is unravelling at the seams. Always sad to see another EV initiative fail, but this one I wasn't to keen on from the start. It's just not a good idea to commit to such a specific concept at this early stage of EV development. I feel fast charging rather than battery switching is the future, but Better place would have been about as keen on the sort of battery breakthroughs needed for that as the oil industry currently is.

    It's amazing though how the Israeli's won't have any of it despite their economic/political situation.

  4. It is "chicken and egg" problem.

    Lacking infrastructure slows down EV adoption. Lacking EVs in great number will slow down the growth of the infrastructure.

    This is where the "governments" need to step in and make "long term" investment decisions...

  5. Sounds pessimistic I know, but I never expected Better Place to succeed, for too many reasons to list here. I suspect losing $490 million is the beginning of the (inevitable, in my opinion) end.

  6. I think reports of the demise of Better Place are a touch premature.

    I've written my full thoughts here:

    http://www.israellycool.com/2012/10/03/shai-agassi-out-of-better-place-or-is-he/

  7. I agree, most electric startups have had an executive shuffle for one reason or another. And you never can tell if it means trouble ahead or if it's no big deal.

  8. Great concept at first glance, yet highly unsustainable on a mass scale and destined to become obsolete as battery tech improved. Agassi would have been cut to pieces had he presented his dream to the investors on the Shark Tank.

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