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Better Place Winds Down US Operations

In what appears to be the latest of Better Place’s mounting difficulties, the EV battery swapping company says it is winding down North American and Australian operations and will focus its efforts in Denmark and Israel.

Better Place says commercial operations are already fully underway in the company’s “two core markets,” Denmark and its home country Israel. Sales of new electric cars are also gathering momentum in the two countries, the company said.

In its other markets, however, Better Place says its priority 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. It says it’s limiting any further investment in Australia beyond its current commitments.

CEO Dan Cohen says Better Place works as a concept, and the company now needs to prove it has a sustainable business model.

The latest news follows several Better Place leadership changes in the last few months.

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.

When Thorley left, the company said Idan Ofer would assume the role of executive chairman and manage external relationships and alliances for Better Place, while Alan Gelman, global CFO, would manage day-to-day operations.

The statement announcing Better Place’s winding down of US operations lists Dan Cohen, the former vice president for strategic initiatives, as CEO. The company’s website says Cohen is the interim CEO of Better Place Global and Better Place Israel.

In his “Predictions for Cleantech in 2013” column for Environmental Leader, Dallas Kachan, managing partner of cleantech research firm Kachan & Co., says 2013 will show that EV supply chain companies have not accounted for the growing efficiency of fossil fuel vehicles, and says it’s a “bad time to be Better Place.”

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