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Trailblazing Israeli electric car company to close

May 26, 2013 • Business


FILE – In this Sunday, Feb. 7, 2010 file photo, an electric car is seen during a demonstration of the California-based company Better Place in Tel Aviv, Israel. Better Place announced Sunday, May 26, 2013, that it is shutting down, less than six years after unveiling an ambitious plan that promised to revolutionize the auto industry by reducing the world’s dependency on oil. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit, File)

JERUSALEM (AP) — It was an audacious idea that came to symbolize Israel’s self-described status as “Start-Up Nation,” a company that believed it could replace most gasoline-powered cars with electric vehicles and reduce the world’s reliance on oil — and all within a few years.

But it all came crashing down.

The company, Better Place, started out as a source of pride and a symbol of Israel’s status as a global high-tech power, but it suffered from a local brand of hubris and overreach. On Sunday, it announced plans to liquidate after burning through almost a billion dollars and failing to sell its silent fleet of French-made sedans to a skeptical public.

“This is a very sad day for all of us. We stand by the original vision as formulated by Shai Agassi of creating a green alternative that would lessen our dependence on highly polluting transportation technologies,” the company said. “Unfortunately, the path to realizing that vision was difficult, complex and littered with obstacles, not all of which we were able to overcome.”

It capped a stunning fall from grace for Better Place and its founder Agassi, a former high-tech whiz kid who sought to change the world by building a revolutionary network of battery-swapping stations.

Agassi, 45, believed that in an era of global warming and rising oil Login to read more

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