Better Place No Longer

Gary S. Vasilash

Earlier this week, Better Place, the company that came up with the idea that electric vehicle batteries ought to be exchanged rather than recharged (well, the driver would have the battery exchanged; Better Place would then recharge the battery so that it could then be replaced in another electric vehicle) filed a motion in court in Israel for “dissolution of the company and the appointment of a temporary liquidator.”

Better Place

According to a statement from the Better Place board of directors: “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. While he was able with partners and investors to overcome multiple challenges to demonstrate that it was possible to deliver a technological solution that would fulfill that vision. Unfortunately, the path to realizing that vision was difficult, complex and littered with obstacles, not all of which we were able to overcome. The technical challenges we overcame successfully, but the other obstacles we were not able to overcome, despite the massive effort and resources that were deployed to that end.”

Over the years, we had the opportunity to interview Shai Agassi—who had a seriously convincing way about him—and to witness the first functioning battery exchange system in Tokyo.

While it seems like a good idea, there were probably more technical challenges than the statement of the board would imply. For example, OEMs are selecting different battery configurations and battery chemistries. There isn’t something like a C-cell battery. What’s more, some OEMs are basically using the battery as part of the structure, so this isn’t something that is readily replaced.

Some people might perceive this as being another blow to the whole notion of electric vehicles, to their viability. Fisker. CODA. Better Place. Etc.

The streets are being littered with electrons, it seems.


Source: American Automobiles, a fascinating website worth spending some time with

Yet if we look back to the history of the auto industry in the U.S. alone, from the ABC to the Zentmobile, there were literally hundreds of companies that tried and failed, cries of “Get a horse notwithstanding.”