Electric car venture Better Place Inc. is pulling the plug on its operations in Australia and the US, and will focus on Israel and Denmark.
In a statement, the company said, "Following the decision by Better Place to focus on delivering on its strategy in Denmark and Israel, where the complete infrastructure is in place and commercial operations are fully underway, consultations are underway with a view to securing an orderly wind-down of its non-core activities in North America and limiting any further investment in Australia beyond its current commitments."
Better Place will close its office in Palo Alto, California, where the company started out, and Tel Aviv will become its global headquarters. The measures are part of Better Place's recovery plan, but they are a bitter blow to its international prestige and global plans originally drawn up by Shai Agassi. Agassi lived in Palo Alto before founding the company.
Better Place's Palo Alto office was responsible for highly publicized ventures and exposure, such as the deployment of the company's battery recharging network in Hawaii, and collaboration with the San Francisco municipality, which included an electric taxi pilot, and plans to deploy a network of recharging stations along the US West Coast.
In Australia, Better Place planned to deploy a network of battery recharging stations in major cities, and a venture with GM Holden Ltd. to develop electric cars with replaceable batters. The fate of this joint venture is unclear.
These plans are apparently one of the reasons why Evan Thornley resigned as Better Place CEO in January, after just three months in the job. He previously served as CEO of Better Place Australia.
Regarding Australian and the US, Better Place added, "The company’s priority in those markets is to ensure that existing engagements to key partners, customers, and suppliers will be honored and Better Place retains the option to resume roll-out in these markets when circumstances permit.
"Better Place continues to make progress in its two core markets, Denmark and Israel, where sales of new electric cars are gathering momentum. Better Place is working with its existing and potential partners on a number of marketing and other initiatives which should further accelerate recruitment of new members."