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Manufacturing Savvy

Turns Out US Isn't a 'Better Place' After All

With great sadness, I read last week that the company called Better Place is limiting its operations in the U.S.

Better Place develops and sells battery-charging and battery-switching services for electric vehicles.

Three years ago in my blog I reported on how Shai Agassi, founder of  Better Place, had contracts in place to build prototype battery-changing stations for electric cars in Israel, Denmark, Japan and Canada. He also had agreements with Hawaii and with a nine-city alliance of communities in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Well it seems that Denmark and Israel are operational with commercial operations fully underway but the U.S. and Australia aren’t that far along.

The company said it “securing an orderly wind-down of its non-core activities in North America and limiting any further investment in Australia beyond its current commitments.”

On May 30 the company hit a milestone by logging its first one million electric kilometers from the electric cars operating on its charging infrastructure in Israel and Denmark.

The company also announced that in May it delivered 110 cars to new customers in Israel, averaging five cars per day. With a total of 55 Battery Switch Stations in both countries in the final stages of testing and certification, following 15,000 switches of batteries in the Battery Switch Stations, the company said it has expanded deliveries of the first Renault Fluence ZE electric cars with switchable batteries and Better Place mobility services to customers after successfully completing four months of network testing with employees, friends and family.

Building on this success the company wants to focus its efforts.  “We have demonstrated that Better Place works as a concept, said Dan Cohen, CEO of Better Place. 

“We need to prove to our customers, suppliers and investors that we have a sustainable, scalable model. To do so we are now focusing on realizing the full potential of what we have built, and that means concentrating our resources and energy in the near term, on Denmark and Israel, where we have customers on the road enjoying our switching and charging networks.

“At the same time, we had to make some difficult decisions on actions to be taken elsewhere in the world. We believe in the long term potential of both Australia and North America and are enormously encouraged by the enthusiastic response we get from all our customers. Therefore we will keep exploring solutions which will enable us to keep our long term options with regard to those markets open.”

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