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September 3, 2015 / 19 Elul, 5775
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Why ‘Better Place’ Really Failed

It really failed because of Shimon Peres.

Israeli President Shimon Peres staring with mild shock at the excitable CEO of automobile manufacturers Renault and Nissan French Carlos Ghosn, whose companies teamed up with Shai Agassi's Better Place of Palo Alto, California.

Israeli President Shimon Peres staring with mild shock at the excitable CEO of automobile manufacturers Renault and Nissan French Carlos Ghosn, whose companies teamed up with Shai Agassi's Better Place of Palo Alto, California.
Photo Credit: Michal Fattal/Flash90

There are plenty of pundits and market experts explaining why they believe Better Place – Israel’s electric car company, failed.

I know the two primary reasons I didn’t buy/lease one, but I wouldn’t give those as the explanation as to why it failed.

I didn’t buy/lease one, because I need an electric minivan, not an electric car, so in terms of the car model, it just didn’t meet my needs at all.

The second reason is the pricing model.

One can argue back and forth with Brian of London as to whether there really was a price savings or not (I don’t think so, and definitely not one significant enough to convince me to buy one), but as the case proved, locking yourself into someone’s electric grid monopoly and very unappealing pricing model (lease, sort of lease, etc. whatever it was) with no alternative options, just seemed like a really bad idea to me.

But that’s not really why it failed.

It really failed because of Shimon Peres.

Peres did a great job getting everyone on board in terms of investing money in Better Place, but when it came to following up in the implementation of the idea, he dropped the ball and it failed.

Does our President have an electric car?

Is the President’s office car pool full of electric cars?

I don’t believe the answer is yes, to either question.

Because like other Shimon Peres schemes, its good for everyone else to suffer through his ideas, but he personally won’t be directly affected by it.

Remind you of anything else Peres has promoted?

For that matter, after granting Better Place a monopoly, was there any government agency that chose to use it and go electric? None that I’m aware of.

Nothing would have saved/grown Better Place more than a government contract to supply them with a fleet of electric cars.

Peres was great when it comes to getting money from investors for Better Peace, I mean Place, and getting them a government sanctioned monopoly, but when it came to following up and seeing if there are any real problems which he could have helped fix (such as lobbying the government to actually use it, and not just the citizens)… well, that’s far less interesting than meeting with rich investors, isn’t it?

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About the Author: JoeSettler blogs at The Muqata.blogspot.com and occasionally on his own blog at JoeSettler.blogspot.com.

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10 Responses to “Why ‘Better Place’ Really Failed”

  1. I prefer to blame Renault for pulling the rug out from under them

  2. Definitely a part: the government never showed the slightest sign of wanting this to happen here. There are many causes and no single cause is correct.

    The problem of the price is one of perceived value. Until people drive and live with electric cars, charged at home (even without switching networks) they don’t understand why those who have them value them so highly. It’s just a fact: those who use them love electric cars.

    I test drove a Prius Plug-in this week. Sticker price in Israel is ₪189,000 including no fuel and it doesn’t even have a GPS system built in. My Better Place car including 4 years of driving (I know, I won’t realise that all now) was ₪160,000. The only failure was to communicate that difference.

  3. i agree, but one questio always remained for me, that constituted a big disadvantage: why was it only possible to have the renault fluence and not other cars like the chevy volt or tesla as well?

  4. My perception – correct or not – was that BP didn't offer large cars for those with 4 kids or more and that because I live far from a city and all our driving is inter-city, the kilometers offered were not sufficient.

  5. Andrew Paul Stuart Hamilton says:

    Peres has certainly been very quiet. He should take some responsibility, but that's never been his style.

  6. The tight control of which models are brought to Israel is the fault of the car importing cartel of families who control the market. It is to the huge shame of Israel’s Government that this cartel system still exists and the barriers to break it down are so high.

    Better Place aren’t about which cars come to Israel and yes, of course, the world needs more options for EVs. But its a national disgrace that two years after launch the Chevy Volt isn’t here, or a host of other viable models.

  7. Stephen Leavitt says:

    Yisrael Katz's new proposition to allow other people to import cars should end that problem. But it still doesn't fix the real bottom line issue, which is price. Car prices are so high, not so much because of the importers, but because of the insane taxes on cars.

  8. Absolutely correct. Government was happy top collect taxes from bloated salaries paid to ex army ex government employees but did nothing to stop using gasoline.
    The other culprit is the gas-stations which charged exorbitantly for betterplace to rent space for its swap-stations. now we hear the main expense for keeping the swap-station open is rent! All of this is reflected in unappealing pricing.
    Finally its renault which never offered another car or van, despite making them, electric, but with a fixed battery.

  9. You will realize it, and more, locally, unless we get Yoseph Abramovitz to take over the operation of the swap-stations, without rent, taxes and all other extraneous expenses, net net net sales. Then we might be able to keep it running as it should

  10. Renault is to blame, but only as an accessory. They waited for 3 years to see it major sales justify tghe expense. They did not, they pulled out

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