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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!