Jan 29, 2013

Better Place in a worse one: CEO gone, local ops powered down

The local Australian operation of global electric car firm Better Place is in limbo following the departure of global CEO Evan Thornley. Dozens of staff have lost jobs and high-profile investors left out of pocket.

Andrew Crook — Former <em>Crikey</em> Senior Journalist

Andrew Crook

Former Crikey Senior Journalist

The future of Australia’s first large-scale electric car experiment is hanging by a thread following the departure of global Better Place CEO and former Australian chief Evan Thornley.

Thornley, the former Labor upper house MP who famously turned down the offer of a ministry in the Brumby government to pursue his electric dreams, departed the firm in mid-January after strategic differences emerged with the board of the Israel-based charging and battery swapping operation.

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4 thoughts on “Better Place in a worse one: CEO gone, local ops powered down

  1. Savonrepus

    As we head into the 21st century needing new ways to adapt to the fact of scarce resources, some strategies are going to succeed and some fail. In the emotion of an individual outcome sometimes the pursuit of the goal of the greater good can be forgotten.

  2. Recalcitrant.Rick

    To much imagination, not enough on the road, ahead of it’s time, sadly!

  3. John Bennetts

    Wake me up when an efficient, reliable battery with a long working life and fast charging rate comes along.

  4. Hoogs

    I’m sad about this for a friend who may lose his job. But there was always a funny smell about it.

    First there must have been barrels of snake oil used to shake US$1bn out of investors on the dream of an explosion in electric vehicle uptake after so many false starts. Year after year concept ev’s would be rolled out to great fanfare, never to be seen again. You didn’t have to be watching the industry too closely to see a vicious circle with reluctant or half hearted big manufacturers drip feeding R&D, consumers waiting for the tech to improve, and governments the buyers of last resort.

    Secondly it was essentially claiming prescience over the technology that would win out when electric vehicles inevitably take off. My interest was with guys like Elon Musk who were sweating to make the basic platform work. Now the Tesla Model S looks like the first serious consumer ev and Musk is rolling out solar powered recharging stations. There might be place for a Better Place one day, but its just too early to tell. Battery performance is still wanting and there is just too much innovation ahead.

    I want an ev revolution, but a lot of well intentioned folks were sold a thought bubble. Naive celebrities are one thing, but the RAC and ACT governments should have known better and I would be asking questions about my member fees/tax dollars. No doubt the aura brought to the table by the usual global banks (who will elbow their way to the head of the creditor queue) was enough to sway less informed investors.

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