Better Place Battery Swap StationEnlarge Photo
Battery-swapping Israeli-based electric car network Better Place might have found a buyer, following its bankruptcy filings last week.
Solar entrepreneur Yosef Abramowitz hinted on his Facebook profile that his company had offered to assume Better Place's assets from the liquidator.
He wrote on Sunday, "Non-update update: cannot confirm or deny that this morning Captain Sunshine submitted to the Better Place liquidator an offer to assume the company’s assets, in the interest of making sure Start Up Nation is not stalled by the current failure of Better Place."
Following this, he later posted in response to an article on The Jerusalem Post, "It's worth a try. The owners/drivers are driving this, and am happy to play a supporting role. It has become clear now how much Better Place failed not only on the business front, but on the political and regulatory front. Could have been avoided. Good luck to everyone!"
Abramowitz has experience running "green" companies in Israel before. His nickname is "Captain Sunshine"--alluding to his solar power venture, the Arava Power Company.
Arava was reponsible for overcoming Israel's bureaucracy to open the country's first 4.95-megawatt solar field two years ago. Since then, Abramowitz and his partners have launched Energiya Global Capital, aiming to set up solar fields in developing nations worldwide.
That said, he says neither company has anything to do with the latest bid for Better Place.
“There are a lot of good people who are trying to come together right now to resuscitate the idea of [an] electric vehicle network in Israel,” he told The Jerusalem Post.
“The drivers love the car – it reminds me of early Apple computer fanatics.”
Despite this, he hopes renewable energy will become a bigger part of Better Place's operations--Abramowitz has not yet bought an electric car, over concerns the current grid isn't yet clean enough.
He's also cautious in his approach--still "crunching numbers" to see if a deal can be done. He's also looking to get feedback from the owners of Better Place vehicles--the fleet of Renault Fluence electric sedans compatible with the company's quick-drop stations.
The project would involve two or three "strategic partnerships" and be modest in scale--Abramowitz says the plans would be basic at first, growing organically.
The Jerusalem Post reports Better Place had just $9 million in cash when it filed for bankruptcy--barely enought to cover its $7 million monthly expenses.
There are also concerns over the future of Better Place's fleet of Renault vehicles--the French automaker has distanced itself from the company's bankruptcy and doesn't intend to produce any more models compatible with the battery-swapping format.
Supporters of Abramowitz will be keen to see what happens, though. His main motive for buying Better Place is simply to "give it a try" to see if it'll work--making Better Place a greener company, and preventing Israel's name being tarnished by a high-profile business failure.