Just two years ago, Shai Agassi’s innovative battery-swapping electric automaker/infrastructure builder Project Better Place was valued at around $2 billion. But this past May the company filed for bankruptcy as sales for their special Renault-built, battery-swappable EVs failed to materialize. This week an Israeli businessman bought Project Better Place for just $450,000, a sad final footnote in this ambitious but flawed company.
Project Better Place seemed to be everywhere, with testing facilities in Isreal, America, Denmark, Japan, and even Australia, but nowhere did the battery-swapping Renaults really catch on. So despite investing billions in innovative infrastructure programs and launching a monthly driving membership program, Project Better Place never really brought in money like it needed to.
There seemed to be some hope for a second act when Israel’s “Captain Sunshine” was going to buy, and attempt to rebuild portions of Better Place’s business. But that plan fell through, and the new plan by new owner Ran Eloya, of Gnrgy, is to operate the companies some 1,800 changing stations across Israel as a separate business. Better Place sold less than 1,000 electric vehicles though, and the business case for separate charging companies is less compelling than it was just a few years ago.
Another big green business flop, though the battery-swapping idea lives on in the Tesla Model S. It wasn’t a bad idea, just terrible execution.
Source: The Mercury News