Better Place, the Palo Alto, Calif., company that aimed to change the world with a global system of cars powered by switchable batteries, is going to -- well, a better place.
The electric vehicle venture, which raised $750 million since its founding five years ago, filed a motion for liquidation with an Israeli court after failing to attract new investors.
The chief fundraiser was founder Shai Agassi. "We want to save the auto industry," he said in 2011.
It wasn't to be. Last fall, Better Place abruptly dismissed Agassi as CEO. Agassi, who made Time magazine's 100-most-influential list in 2009, planned a network of stations at which drivers could exchange depleted batteries for new ones or charge existing batteries.
Partnering with Renault-Nissan, Better Place sold Renault's Fluence electric cars with switchable batteries in Israel and Denmark. In 2009, the companies said they aimed to sell 100,000 cars in the two countries by 2016.
The partnership included the QuickDrop service that allowed Fluence owners to switch the battery in less than five minutes.
But Renault has sold only 1,000 Fluence cars in Israel and 240 in Denmark. The car's low performance and relatively high price proved tough hurdles.