In another blow to the struggling electric vehicle industry, one of its most ambitious projects has shut down.
On Sunday, Better Place, which hoped to create a network of battery-swapping stations to extend the range of electric cars and offer a greener alternative to gasoline-powered engines, said it would liquidate its assets after exhausting $1 billion in financing, the Associated Press noted.
The company began testing its battery-swapping stations in Israel, the home country of its founder Shai Agassi. Under a partnership with France’s Renault, Better Place acquired a fleet of Fluence sedans, modified to run on batteries. The project attracted high-profile support from the Israeli government and made Agassi a international business celebrity.
Despite Agassi’s predictions that 5,000 Better Place vehicles would be in use on Israeli roads by 2011, just 1,000 ever made it to the asphalt. Last year, Agassi was ousted as CEO.
Better Place received $850 million from a wide range of investors, including HSBC (HBC) and General Electric (GE).