Business, Economics and Jobs

Electric car company Better Place, once valued at $2.25B, to close


Shai Agassi, founder and chief executive officer of electric vehicle services provider, Better Place, gets out of the world's first switchable-battery electric taxi in Tokyo on April 26, 2010. Better Place announced on Sunday that it had filed a motion in an Israeli court to wind up the company.



A trailblazing electric car venture, which aimed to expand the reach and capabilities of electric cars, announced on Sunday that it had reached the end of the road.

Better Place said it had filed a motion in an Israeli court to wind up and liquidate the company after failing to convince drivers to switch to its fleet of silent electric cars.

"This is a very sad day for all of us. We stand by the original vision as formulated by Shai Agassi of creating a green alternative that would lessen our dependence on highly polluting transportation technologies," the company said.

"Unfortunately, the path to realizing that vision was difficult, complex and littered with obstacles, not all of which we were able to overcome."

Founded in 2007 in Palo Alto, Calif., the company launched its first network in Israel and started out as a bright spot in Israel's self-described "Start-up Nation".

It partnered with French automaker Renault to build a network of charging stations and a battery swap system that was supposed to ease drivers' worries about the range of electric cars.

Better Place raised more than $850 million from top tier investors including General Electric Co., HSBC Holdings PLC and the European Investment Bank.

Just two years ago the company said it was valued at $2.25 billion, according to Reuters.

Founder and former CEO Agassi promised to have 5,000 of his cars on Israel's roads by the end of 2011 but failed to come even close to that.

Only about 900 Better Place cars are on the road in Israel, and about 400 in Denmark, the first two countries where it began operating.

The company said it still believes in the gasoline-free vision and remains "hopeful that eventually the vision will be realized for the benefit of a better world," the company's board of directors said in a statement.

"However, Better Place will not be able to take part in the realization of this vision."

Shai Agassi tells Bloomberg about his company's business model, strategy in 2011

More from GlobalPost: Electric car maker Tesla posts first quarterly profit with $11 million