And Now The End Is Near

Better Place customers gather at short notice to talk to the press - Saturday 25th May - Photo: Brian of London

Better Place customers gather at short notice to talk to the press – Saturday 25th May – Photo: Brian of London

This morning Better Place filed for bankruptcy in a court in Israel. I knew on Friday afternoon this would happen and that various press reports over the weekend were broadly correct.

We don’t know what this means for customers at this stage. All the ones I know are fanatical about the service and their cars. Many will be sad just at the prospect of going back to driving petrol cars aside from any financial costs they may incur.

We had an impromptu gathering of customers in the car park of Ikea in Netanya yesterday afternoon where various people spoke to the major TV and newspaper journalists. I spoke to the Jerusalem Post as I was driving to Jerusalem in my Better Place Renault Fluence ZE this morning.

There will now be endless speculation on what killed Better Place. I’m keen to see the numbers which come out of the receiver: when I know the operating expenses versus the income for Israel I’ll be in a much better position to talk with some degree of authority about what has happened.

I’m going to also write a lot more about the ways in which the State of Israel failed to capitalise on an amazing privately funded chance to lead the world and what a monstrous failure that is for the government and institutions of Israel.

As to what this means now for owners, we don’t know. I take some comfort in the fact that the switching station worked this morning and I’m parked in Jerusalem with enough power to roll down the hill to my home. The lights were working on my home charging station and, I suspect, home charging will remain possible for some time to come.

I am also pleased to read this final paragraph in Better Place’s press release:

Against that background, the most recent fundraising round was not successful. In recent months, the management of the company did all that it could to keep the business operating. Today, in the light of our obligation to our staff, customers and creditors, we are applying to the court for the appointment of a temporary liquidator.
The management is requesting the voluntary liquidator once appointed to decide as quickly as possible to award compensation to customers and staff and maintain the functioning of the network”.

They didn’t run this thing into the ground at full speed and, who knows, maybe there is a $500m+ asset waiting to be bought for pennies on the dollar and to turn into one of the world’s great successes. It’s happened before. There are aspects of Better Place’s service (besides the battery switching) that nobody in the electric car world has but are hugely valuable.

A final word for those people who brought me in to Better Place and led me to ownership: I have absolutely no regrets. I’m hooked on driving an electric car and will do all I can to continue owning and using one. I am forever grateful to you all for opening my eyes to electric driving and nothing would make me change this last year and half. Thank you!

About Brian of London

Brian of London is not the messiah, he's a very naughty boy. Since making aliyah in 2009, Brian has blogged at Israellycool. Brian's interests include electric cars, world peace and an end to world hunger. Besides blogging here, Brian of London now writes at the Times of Israel. Brian of London also hosted Shire Network News

comments

  • Gil J. Yashar

    As a more recent owner of a ZE I want to second your “no regrets” statement. If the service of the switch stations ceases, I hope that clause 8.4 of the contract will be implemented and I will be refunded my advance proportionate to the length of ownership (I assume 70/72 x NIS 19,900). If only the range between charges was 200 kilometers I would keep the ZE even without the availability of change stations.

  • Abu Zibby

    Better Place failed on the free market. I don’t see how the State of Israel is to blame when the market just said no to a product.

  • Jim from Iowa

    Brian, I hope, at the very least, that they allow you to keep your complimentary key chain as a memento of better days past for A Better Place. If it’s any consolation, I’ve already completed the seven stages of grief and have leapt right into good-natured mocking.

  • JB Segard

    For those of you who speak French, please have a look at this link : http://www.automobile-propre.com/breves/ep-tender-le-range-extender-sous-forme-de-remorque/

    It’s about the idea of mounting a range extender on a small tender of the E. It would in effect be a module available through a rental service, and give you the same convenience as en ICE car, for the occasional long distance trip.

    This video shows a demo of the mechanism used to guide the Tender (trailer) without knife jacking. http://youtu.be/KtKmCIJC4Vo

    What do you think of this approach ? Would you want your Fluence ZE to be equipped ?

  • L. King

    Michael Dell managed to put together a enough money to attempt a buy back of Dell Computer that failed. And Sergei Brin and Larry Page of Google are known to be interested in energy management solutions. Not to mention that WAZE is in play and the owners are up for a billion $ buyout, but the timing on that one isn’t quite there yet.

    Maybe some calls need to be made.

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  • ffinder

    Better Place to close battery stations

    http://www.globes.co.il/serveen/globes/docview.asp?did=1000848227&fid=1725

    Better Place electric car owners’ worst fears are to be realized, after the electric car venture’s liquidator told the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee today that it would stop operating its battery replacement stations and recharging points on June 13. The company will also close its customer service, and call centers.
    On Sunday, when Better Place announced that it would petition the courts to be liquidated, Guy, who had bought the company’s Fluence ZE electric car, told “IDF Radio” (Galei Zahal), “I am sure that it will continue operating the battery replacement. There’s a contract and contractual commitment to continue providing the service in any case. If the replacement stations stop operating, drivers will be limited to a range of 120 kilometers.”
    Better Place’s liquidators also began firing employees. 160-170 employees will lose their jobs today, out of the 209 employees slated to be fired, leaving the company with 111 employees.

    Published by Globes [online], Israel business news – http://www.globes-online.com – on May 30, 2013

    • http://www.israellycool.com/author/brianoflondon/ Brian of London

      I haven’t had time to write but the Globes reporter (who wasn’t at the Knesset: I know because I was) is full of shit.

      The Receiver said the operation was court ordered to continue to June 13 and that she would try to keep it running because she realises the value drops instantly if it is switched off.

      • B Mario Blanco

        Please let me know if there is any schedule meeting of car owners.
        I don’t know how to be in contact with others affected by Better Place liquidation

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