Author Topic: Trailblazing Israeli electric car company to fold  (Read 515 times)

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Offline Cincinnatus

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Trailblazing Israeli electric car company to fold
« on: May 26, 2013, 03:49:12 PM »

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israel's trailblazing electric car company Better Place announced Sunday that it is shutting down, less than six years after unveiling an ambitious plan that promised to revolutionize the auto industry by reducing the world's dependency on oil.

Better Place was perhaps Israel's best known clean-tech company and a leading symbol of its "startup" nation status. Israel, along with Denmark, was the company's test market for developing nationwide networks of charging and battery-swapping stations that it hoped would eventually spread globally. But the company experienced repeated delays in getting off the ground and experienced weak demand for its cars after burning through millions of dollars.

The announcement that the company was filing for liquidation comes less than eight months after company founder Shai Agassi was forced out. The project won the support of Israeli President Shimon Peres, received generous financial incentives from the Israeli government and made Agassi a dynamic celebrity CEO.

The company's vision of drastically reducing oil dependence, cutting carbon emissions and blazing a trail for more environmentally friendly means of transportation won it worldwide praise and high-profile endorsements from people such as former President Bill Clinton. But it also faced skepticism from industry insiders who warned of technical pitfalls, such as limited battery range.

Yeah, endorsements from the likes of Billy but no word he invested in this project, nor did gazillionaire Al Gore, and praise God the article doesn't state Obama "invested" our taxpayer dollars as a gesture of friendship and approval.

Israel was a particularly ideal laboratory, thanks to high fuel prices, a supportive government and its dense population centers. In Israel, 90 percent of car owners drive less than 45 miles, or about 70 kilometers, per day and all major urban centers are less than 100 miles apart, making the use of battery operated cars more feasible than in countries with longer average commutes.

For people making longer trips, the country was dotted with several dozen mechanized battery-swapping stations, where a new battery could be placed in the vehicle in just a few minutes. Green cars were also particularly attractive to Israel, which hopes to weaken the political clout of its oil-rich enemies.

But fewer than 1,000 cars made it on to the road and the company's distinctive charging stations remained largely empty. French automaker Renault has sold a sedan, the Fluence, which was customized to use the stations and was priced in Israel at roughly $32,000, on par with other sedans. The fate of the fuelling stations is now unclear.

Sorry to see you folks go along with the money of Israeli taxpayers, but nowhere in the article does it say why this latest environmentalist folly went belly up despite what appears to have been ideal conditions for success.

We shall never be abandoned by Heaven while we act worthy of its aid ~~ Samuel Adams

Offline Oceander

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Re: Trailblazing Israeli electric car company to fold
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2013, 10:51:25 PM »
These things will never reach economic viability until the governments of the world stop wasting taxpayers' money on boondoggles and let private enterprise figure it out; when private enterprise has its own skin in the game (rather than having the taxpayers' skin in the game courtesy of a government), it usually figures things out:  either (a) that there is no way the subject-matter will be economically viable, or (b) how to make it economically viable.  When governments run auto companies, you get the Trabant; when private business runs auto companies, you get things like the Prius (in addition to all of the much more useful products the private auto industry puts out).

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