This spring, one year after rolling out an extensive vehicle charging network in Israel, electric car company Better Place filed for bankruptcy. Better Place was the first major electric car maker in the world to use interchangeable batteries, which could be swapped out at charging stations, enabling car owners to drive long distances without needing to stop and refuel. This week, an Israeli court allowed a group of investors to purchase Better Place for less than $12 million, giving the company a second chance.
Better Place partnered with Renault in 2008 to create a business model in which car owners would own the cars, but Better Place would maintain ownership of the batteries. When the battery runs out of juice, drivers would be able to drive up to charging stations to swap them out for fully-charged ones, enabling them to drive long distances. The public didn’t buy into the program, though, and Better Place was forced to file for bankruptcy in May.
But the recharging network won’t go to waste, as a consortium of American and Canadian businessmen partnered with electric car owners to purchase the company for a fraction of its estimated $2 billion valuation. “It may look like this is a low price for a luxury boat, but you need to remember that this ship sank,” an attorney told Haaretz.
The investment group that purchased Better Place is led by solar energy entrepreneur Yosef Abramowitz, who will try to refocus the company to include a variety of electric vehicles. “Our vision is to transform the charging network into an open, national technology and service platform for all current and future electric vehicles,” Abramowitz told Reuters. “We look forward to Israelis soon driving and charging Teslas and other electric vehicles that will save money for both drivers and government, fight climate change and keep our air clean.”