Better Place car owners champion electric vehicles

The leaders of the association rallied for existing Better Place customers to join the cooperative, to promote electric car use.

June 8, 2013 20:30
2 minute read.
Supporters rally for electric car use.

Electric car rally 370. (photo credit: Sharon Udasin)

Some 200 Better Place electric vehicles – and their owners – gathered at the company’s Glilot facility on Friday afternoon and drove in a convoy to Hayarkon Park’s Hadar Yosef parking lot to promote the survival of electric car transportation in the country.

As members of the Association for Electric Transportation Advancement, the car owners announced plans to form a cooperative of customers. With the help of investors and of companies specializing in specific services, the cooperative intends to continue to run the car project and acquire the Better Place infrastructure.

The leaders of the association rallied for Better Place customers to join the cooperative in order to be able to continue to use their vehicles and to to improve the environment.

Better Place filed for bankruptcy on May 26 and announced it was closing its doors. The liquidators charged with breaking up and selling the company’s assets and paying off its obligations promised to keep its battery swapping stations open through June 13, but were still determining how many, if any, to maintain thereafter.

The company had less than $9 million in cash on hand when it filed for bankruptcy, while its expenses were $7m. a month.

Also in question is how Better Place’s patents and intellectual property – held in a Swiss company that is, thus far, outside the reach of the liquidator – will influence plans to maintain the charging infrastructure in Israel. Better Place only sold some 900 cars in Israel and 400 in Denmark.

Last Sunday, American-Israeli solar entrepreneur Yosef Abramowitz announced he would likely place a bid on the fallen company’s assets. While acknowledging that his offer was not a “fully cooked” done deal, he said that “the name of the ‘Start-up Nation’” cannot “be stalled because of the failure of Better Place.”

Abramowitz and his partners at Arava Power Company were responsible for the first grid-connected solar field in Israel, and the firm continues to develop a pipeline of solar projects in the country. He then decided to launch Jerusalem-based firm Energiya Global Capital, which is working toward establishing solar fields in developing nations around the world.

Abramowitz, known by colleagues as “Captain Sunshine,” attended the rally on Friday, showing up in yellow superhero cape and all of his customary accoutrements.

Abramowitz informed the car owners that he is advancing in talks over a $50m.

investment toward improving and rebuilding the electric car project as a more effective start-up. The investment would come with the assistance of the government, which would support the continued existence of electric transportation infrastructure in Israel.

Other participants in Friday’s event included Efi Shahak, chairman of the Association for Electric Transportation Advancement, Prof. Uriel Reichman, president of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, and Reuven Agassi, the father of Better Place founder Shai Agassi.

Niv Elis contributed to this report.

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