Third Better Place CEO In Four Months Departs

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Better Place Battery Swap Station

Better Place Battery Swap Station

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Better Place, the battery-swapping network operating in Israel and Denmark, didn't have an easy 2012, and 2013 is looking little better.

Indeed, Reuters now confirms the departure of their current CEO, Evan Thornley.

Better Place founder Shai Agassi was ousted last October, following losses of $490 million since the company was founded.

Agassi was replaced by Moshe Kaplinsky, who walked out only a month later. Since then, the company has been led by Evan Thornley, previously CEO of Better Place Australia.

Now Thornley has gone too, suggesting investors are still unhappy with the loss-making company, with total losses now understood to be $561.5 millon.

Better Place partnered with French automaker Renault in 2008, whose Fluence Z.E. electric car has been designed to work with Better Place's battery-swapping system. Sales have been slow however, even in the Israeli market, where only 600 cars have been sold.

Renault had to delay its Australian roll-out of the Fluence Z.E. last month, owing to delays at Better Place in setting up its network. Back in 2008, Better Place had committed to an order of 100,000 Fluence electric cars--a number looking increasingly optimistic.

Acting CEO Alan Gelman, along with Johnny Hansen, believes Better Place has tried to expand too fast, but the company will now put more effort into success in the initial markets of Denmark and Israel.

The company's position looks ever more precarious, though spirits have been recently buoyed by large fleet sales.

For the time being though, Better Place seems as adept at swapping CEOs as it does swapping batteries...

[Hat tip: Brian Henderson]


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Comments (8)
  1. "Better Place seems as adept at swapping CEOs as it does swapping batteries..." Well played sir [tips hat]

  2. It almost seems like once they're in, they realize that the company is going down so they run out again to avoid going down with it.

  3. What do you know, turns out fast charging is the future after all. Who knew...

  4. There is a lot more to electric cars than simply being green. And by "green" I am referring to replacing petro with electrons. There is also the idea of being more self-sufficient. Energy is energy, whether it be "Big Oil" or "Big Electricity." Many of us want to be more free from "the man." Residential solar and wind at every opportunity is a "good" future. Trading out the old boss for a new boss is not and in fact seems a bit anachronistic considering what stage we are at in the currency meltdown. It is time to truly aspire for a "better place."

  5. I think they are having a hard time making the transition from swapping batteries to a charging network. The idea was good but impractical. They need to redefine themselves as a charging network. That will take time and a clever CEO.

  6. Agreed. BP should have gone for that other Renault solution:on board fastchargers in combination with a network of simple power outlets that are relatively cheap to install making a much denser network possible than would ever be practical with cumbersome and expensive swapping stations.

    Offering subscribers the guarantee never to be more than 10 miles away from the next fast charge opportunity might have been the ticket to success.

  7. Agreed re quick-charging in general, but I don't see adding the cost and weight of a large on-board charger to every vehicle as an effective solution.

    The cheapest stand-alone QC is 15k$, very attractive when you factor in the number of vehicles it could serve each day.

    Most of the cost of a QC install goes into the hefty electrical circuit they need, and the red-tape surrounding it (engineering, permitting, inspections) -- burden that "simple outlets" for on-board fast-charging would have to bear just as well.

    Also, those "simple" power outlets wouldn't be as cheap as one might hope after adding some required protection (GFCI etc), authorization (card-reader? touch-screen?), metering, telemetry for billing, demand response etc...

  8. This report is inaccurate
    Kaplinsky was never Better Place international CEO. He was the Israel Better Place CEO. I met him several times in the run-up to the public introduction of the BP network, and did not like him at all. A former Brigadier general it was thought he could bring the Armed Forces on board, starting out with thousands of cars.
    Thornely, BP Australia CEO wanted to trim down investment in Israel and Denmark, and move the bulk of the investment to Australia, so the rumor goes. A ridiculous notion because Israel is the proof-of-concept test-ground ideal for a variety of reasons. Alan Gellman is the Israel CEO, he is staying put, and has made major changes to the marketing strategy.
    Agassi is a visionary, not a salesman

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