If you've been following our reports on battery-swapping company Better Place, the news probably won't come as much of a surprise.

The company has decided to shut down its operations in the U.S. and Australia, to concentrate on its original markets of Denmark and Israel.

Loss-making Better Place will close its Palo Alto office, says the San Francisco Business Times, as well as its Australian base.

The former was set up to establish an electric taxi program linking San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland, saysForbes. These plans were changed to a small fleet of electric taxis operating out of San Francisco and San Jose airports, using Better Place's battery-switch scheme.

This too is now cancelled.

A similar fate has befallen Better Place Australia. Back in December, partner Renault delayed the roll-out of its electric Fluence sedan in the country, while a proper network was established.

Initial estimates put the delay at six to twelve months, with full availability of the Fluence by 2014. With Better Place gone, it's unclear what Renault's next move might be.

Better Place is taking a positive stance, saying it can now concentrate on Denmark and Israeli operations. U.S. CEO Dan Cohen was quoted as saying, "We need to prove to our customers, suppliers and investors that we have a sustainable, scalable model.

"To do so we are now focusing on realizing the full potential of what we have built, and that means concentrating our resources and energy in the near term, on Denmark and Israel, where we have customers on the road enjoying our switching and charging networks.

"At the same time, we had to make some difficult decisions on actions to be taken elsewhere in the world."

Last month saw the company's third CEO in four months part ways. Currently, the company is headed by Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer, who has brought nearly $300 million to Better Place, which has lost over half a billion since it started.

While concentrating on established markets is a better business move, one suspects we haven't heard the last of Better Place's struggles this year.


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