Bid by car owners to buy Better Place fails

Entrepreneur Yosef Abramowitz unable to make $1 million payment to Israeli electric car company’s liquidator

Charging a Better Place car in 2013. (photo credit: Roni Schutzer/Flash 90)
Charging a Better Place car in 2013. (photo credit: Roni Schutzer/Flash 90)

TEL AVIV — Israeli green entrepreneur Yosef Abramowitz failed in his bid to buy Better Place, the Israeli electric car company that declared bankruptcy in May.

One month ago, Abramowitz, in partnership with the Association for the Advancement of Electric Transport in Israel, won a bid to buy Better Place’s Israeli infrastructure and intellectual property for about $11 million.

But on Sunday, Abramowitz gave up the bid to buy Better Place after his company, Green EV Operation, could not make a monthly payment of $1 million to Better Place’s liquidator.

Abramowitz told JTA that his bid failed because the liquidator did not provide lists of drivers to bill for the company’s battery-swap stations, and because Israel’s Transportation Ministry would not release 350 Better Place cars held at port unless Abramowitz bought an import license.

“To this day neither the cars were released nor was there a functioning database from which to bill users,” Abramowitz told JTA. “This not only killed our cash position but was the deathblow for investor confidence in our business model.”

According to Abramowitz, the 900 Better Place car owners in Israel drove more than one million miles and had 10,000 battery swaps since Abramowitz bought the company.

The company will now be bought by Tzachi Merkur, CEO of Success Parking, an Israeli parking garage company, according to The Marker, Haaretz’s business publication. Merkur will pay approximately $3 million for Better Place.

Better Place, founded in 2007 by CEO Shai Agassi, aimed to revolutionize the electric car industry by selling cars with switchable batteries. The company declared bankruptcy in May after losing $850 million.

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