Israeli electric car project goes into bankruptcy
If you read the Israeli press you would have heard of the sad fate of better place. If you don’t this important story may have generated a line on the financial pages, or not at all. I felt great disappointment and a certain amount of relief that I heard that this Israeli hi-tech icon has been forced into liquidation.
The negative feelings come because, in Israeli hi-tech, this company was the example to follow. Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle, a 2009 best seller by Dan Senor and Saul Singer began with the story how President Shimon Peres, of the Oslo Agreement (got that wrong, too) used his enormous influence to introduce then C.E.O. Shai Agassi to prospective investors/collaborators.
We should put this into perspective. Better place was a great idea but didn’t sell enough, attract enough investor capital or partners in the auto industry. It lost about $850 million dollars, enormous by Israeli standards. Start-ups sometimes, even generally, end-down, even in Israel.
By comparison the US federal government is expected to spend $7.5 billion on its own electric car schemes. Does anyone really think the Chevy Volt is a better ‘average Joe’ car than the Renault Fluence or that from a national perspective, it was value for money? Perhaps when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry finishes turning around the Palestinian total loss†economy he will turn his attention to turning electric cars from Edsel to at least Toyota?
Why is this important …?
… apart from the jobs lost, unsaleable cars, poisoned relationship with French giant Renault, damage to Israel’s reputation, etc.
Could the Oil Arabs and Iran maintain aggressive hostility to Israel; develop nukes; sponsor proxy wars without an ocean of oil under their barren sands? I think not.
The West’s insatiable thirst for oil subsidises those whose ultimate aim is the West’s destruction. I firmly believe that not-petroleum-products fueled cars (why does it have to be electrical?) will be a major weapon against the oil sheikhs and mullahs — and if in the process it saves the world’s environment; extends the availability of an irreplaceable natural resource and cleans up our skies, so be it.
However sorry I am that it will probably not be an Israeli company leading this revolutionary change reducing the world’s dependence on oil is an Israel advocacy issue.
So why positive feelings?
I was considering buying a better place electric car!
- Kerry’s Gas Field Plan Won’t Make Palestine a Better Place, Matthew Kalman, THE DAILY BEAST, 28 May 2013
- CBO: Government will spend $7.5 billion on electric vehicles. What are we getting back?
- Customers lament Better Place closure, Sharon Udasin, Jerusalem Post, 27 May 2013
- Better Place’s vision lives on, Jerusalem Post, 27 May 2013
† Just how much the Palestinians need this boost and how much is Kerry deluding himself that financial assistance will turn the Palestinians into friends of the USA is debatable. The West Bank together with Gaza has sustained a moderate rate of economic growth since 2008. A real GDP growth rate of 5.7% (2011 est.) is more than twice the United State’s 2.2% (2012 est.) and more than five times the United Kingdom’s -0.1% (2012 est.)