How Battery Technology Killed Better Place
With EV battery swapping company Better Place filing for bankruptcy over the weekend, don’t expect to see other startups pursing battery swapping infrastructure, says Dallas Kachan, managing partner of cleantech research firm Kachan & Co.
“When Better Place was founded, the jury was still somewhat out regarding battery swapping and fast charging,” he told Environmental Leader. “Well, the verdict is in, and charging infrastructure has clearly won.”
Tel Aviv-based Better Place filed a court motion in Israel on May 26 to liquidate the company. Despite its efforts over the past six months to secure funding and streamline business, Better Place’s revenues remain insufficient to cover operating costs, the company said. The board of directors called it a “very sad day,” but said the continued negative cash flow left it with no other option than to shut down the company.
Kachan, who sounded a death knell for Better Place in January, says EV battery swapping wasn’t well considered from the start.
“Expensive custom robots removing and replacing car batteries didn’t seem to make sense when batteries have been constantly getting faster to charge and holding larger and larger charges,” Kachan says. “Better Place bet against improved battery technology. Because batteries continue to get better, we don’t expect any other battery swapping plays.”
In February, Better Place said it was winding down North American and Australian operations and focusing its efforts in Denmark and Israel, the company’s “two core markets.” At the time, the company said it would retain the option to resume roll-out in other markets when circumstances permit.
This followed several Better Place leadership changes in early 2013 and late 2012. In January, CEO Evan Thornley left the company. He had taken on the leadership role just three months earlier in October 2012, after the departure of founder Shai Agassi.
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