Shai Agassi's faith remains strong. The Better Place founder, who was removed as the company's CEO in October, still believes that a company that powers electric vehicles with swappable batteries and a subscription-based revenue model can be successful ... if operated properly.

While declining to disclose the details behind his departure, citing a confidentiality agreement, Agassi told GigaOm that he didn't "have an issue with the model, I had a problem with the company." He also noted that Better Place's electric vehicles account for about one out of every 200 new cars in Israel, making him optimistic about the concept's future.

Earlier this week, Better Place said it was shuttering its US and Australia operations to focus on Israel and Denmark, which the company considers its "core markets." The company has reportedly racked up well over a half-billion dollars in losses since Agassi founded it in 2007, though it did raise $100 million in December, mostly from its largest shareholder Israel Corp.

Agassi was pushed out as CEO in October and replaced by Better Place's Australia chief Evan Thornley, who himself stepped down in January.


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  • 16 Comments
      Ryan
      • 1 Year Ago
      The only time I want to ever pay per mile is in a taxi, and it just so happens that Better Place would work great for most airport, train station, and inner city taxis around the world.
      Marcopolo
      • 1 Year Ago
      Better Place just keeps getting weirder and weirder ! I have never been able to figure out if Shai Aggassi is a scamster, or just delusional or both ! Evan Thornley, is a former Australian leftist politician. Previously he and his wife made a considerable fortune as founders of internet search company Looksmart Ltd. He then joined Better Place and underwent a transformation, converting to a sect of the Jewish faith, eventually moving to Israel. Better Place has always seemed to be run more like Amway, or a cult than a real business. It's business model is based on an old 1950's magazine article, and it's publicity releases, and claims have always been largely fantasies. Better Place chairman, is Idan Ofer, son of Israel's richest man (deceased) . Idan Ofer and his brother Eyal are Israel's Koch brothers ! The Ofer family fortune is a result of such activities as buying state assets at discounted prices, damaging the Dead Sea and selling an oil tanker to a front company for Iran. In creasing publicity about Illegal oil deals, shadowy dealings with disreputable PRC oil corporations, have inspired Idan Ofer to invest abroad as a safety net against possible political backlash in Israel. Better Place seemed to be a typical Ofer style tactic to gain control of the Israeli car market, in conjunction with the monopoly power corporation. Like I say, weirder and weirder.....
        Spec
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Marcopolo
        They were just delusionally optimistic. You can pick a bunch of random facts and weave a conspiracy theory that doesn't make it so.
        Giza Plateau
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Marcopolo
        Marco, I think you are bringing the weird to Better Place. What's your source on Evan turning jewish?
        EVnerdGene
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Marcopolo
        I wish I had this guys money to run around the world and tell people how they should build stuff and live. There's at least ten plug-in EVs on the market right now, and no two have interchangeable battery packs. Not even close. In over a hundred years of building gas cars, there has never been an interchangable gas tank used by two manufacturers (unless really the same model underneath like Pontiac Vibe and Toyota Matrix).
          Spec
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EVnerdGene
          All the cars use the same gasoline though, right? Their real arrogance was in thinking they could do this all alone. You just can't do that because no one wants to be locked into a single supplier. And you need wide adoption of an open standard to really get something moving. A single-company proprietary standard was a non-starter. They should have known better.
          Marco Polo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EVnerdGene
          @ EVnerdGene Yeah, Better Place was always a daft idea.
      Giza Plateau
      • 1 Year Ago
      It was a bad call Ripley, it was a bad call.
      • 1 Year Ago
      A shame this is not working for Better Place. EVs that require the owner to charge the battery will never be as cost efficient as the battery changing station (BCS) model. Those batteries can be charged at a much lower cost, especially if the BCS took advantage of solar or other "free" sources of energy. Do people realize how much electricity is required to charge a battery? I have to believe it would be more than running an air conditioner, and an air conditioner is only run on hot days, Your car will have to be charged every day. IMO, the BCS idea was a great idea, and still is. it will likely catch on just like the cell phone industry caught on. Remember the "free phone with a two-year agreement" model? Well, when fewer cars need gas, one has to believe that Mobil, BP, Valero, and Citgo, at a minimum will toss their hat into the ring and become the Verizon, ATT, T-Mobile, and Sprint of the auto industry. And when they figure out how to partner with the Sears, Pep Boys, Jiffy Lubes, and Mavis Tires which all can likely be retrofitted to swap batteries. thee will be changing stations everywhere. I haven't figured out why Better Place was building their own changing stations as opposed to taking advantage of the existing infrastructure - and, yes, it does exist - to quickly create BCSs. Besides, I see the benefit in buying enough battery life for 15,000 miles per year, while you may only need 12,000 miles per year, so i might pay $150 per month for my "service plan" and you might pay $120 per month for your "service plan". besides, i saw the Telsa S this weekend. I mean they are setting up at malls to sell the concept and vehicle. Who's dropping $80,000 - $100,000 for a vehicle that's not proven, had a terrible review recently, and can only be serviced at a Telsa dealer. i guarantee you that if you got stuck in Boise or Tallahassee you won't find a Telsa dealer to work on your vehicle. If Better Place doesn't run out of money, they will make a great impact on the EV industry, probably second to only Toyota and the work they've done on the Prius.
      Giyad
      • 1 Year Ago
      no doubt this is a great idea... but its all about timing man, its not the right time. Good thing hes trying though!
      Spec
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm sure he owns a pile of (soon to be worthless) stock in BP and has an agreement saying that he will not speak ill of the company. So why would anyone expect him to say anything but good things?
      Giza Plateau
      • 1 Year Ago
      Given how intelligent jews are in general (I mean other than obvious blinds spots like inability to see similarity between how they were treated in WWII and how they treat the palestinians) then howcome so many jews gathered in one place can't figure out how to make some efficient EVs. It's beneficial for fuel import and for exporting cars.
      bluepongo1
      • 1 Year Ago
      A zombie business model because of the Tesla Superchargers.
        SublimeKnight
        • 1 Year Ago
        @bluepongo1
        And just Level 3 charging in general. Any car car charge to 80% of its capacity in about 30 minutes. How much time would a battery swap save? 10 minutes? Time for Better Place to go to a better place.
          Spec
          • 1 Year Ago
          @SublimeKnight
          You save 26 minutes and you could get a 100% charge instead of 80%. There is merit to battery swapping in that you can very quickly provide a 100% recharge to a car this way with no damage to the battery. However, it is just not viable at this point. Maybe 15 to 20 years down the road and if you can get an industry standard. It is just much too early for the EV biz to try something so big.
      me
      • 1 Year Ago
      His ideal is like the betamax or hd dvds ... wireless charging or fast charging is here or on the way....
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