Israeli Vision for Electric Car Fades as Better Place Pulls Plug

Better Place LLC, the electric car venture backed by Israel’s President Shimon Peres as a way to wean the world off oil dependence, will shut down after failing to attract new investments.

Better Place, which in January 2012 started its first commercial roll-out with 100 electric cars to Israeli customers, filed a motion for liquidation with the Lod district court today, according to an e-mailed statement from the company. Billionaire Idan Ofer’s Israel Corp., the largest investor in the company with an about 30 percent stake, said in a separate statement its board decided against the investment.

“This is a difficult day for all of us,” said Dan Cohen, the company’s third CEO in just under a year. “Unfortunately, after a year’s commercial operation, it was clear to us that despite many satisfied customers, the wider public take-up would not be sufficient and that the support from the car producers was not forthcoming.”

The car’s low performance and relatively high price compared with conventional vehicles proved too big a hurdle as Better Place, founded by former SAP AG executive Shai Agassi, failed to attract enough customers. The Palo Alto, California-based startup was in partnership with Renault SA to build and operate electric-car charging networks and battery-exchanging stations and had raised $750 million since it was founded five years ago.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.