Better Place’s New Owner Looks to Sell Remaining Fleet of Electric Cars

Troubled electric car infrastructure firm did not manage to clear the fleet through customs before going bankrupt; though never used some are damaged due to neglect.

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The company that acquired the financially troubled electric car infrastructure firm Better Place has begun the process of selling off the company’s stock of Renault electric cars.

The new owners, Success Assets, have set a NIS 80,000 selling price for the company's new cars, stored at Ashdod Port and a Renault factory in Turkey. The price does not include charges related to the electrical supply for the car, which are billed separately. The stock of vehicles up for sale were purchased by Better Place, but it did not manage to clear the cars through customs before going bankrupt.

The cars still cannot clear customs, because Better Place has to post a guarantee enabling it to reinstate its importer's license. Although the cars slated to be sold have never been driven, some may have sustained damage due to the lengthy period they have been out in the open. Some are also more than a year old.

Better Place is therefore required to title them in its own name and sell them to members of the public as used cars.

The company also has a stock of other cars to sell as used that were driven by Better Place employees, leased out or used as demonstration models, but the prices on those cars has yet to be set. Better Place no longer has a franchise to import cars from Renault, and once the current inventory of new cars is depleted, it will no longer be able to sell new cars.

"We are carrying out a series of examinations related to the price for the cars in our vehicle inventory and will shortly advise regarding their price," Better Place said.

Based on information on the Yad2 website (a selling platform for a range of items, including used cars), the oldest electric cars, from 2007, sell for around NIS 80,000. The price of electric cars being sold as new on the site starts at NIS 121,000.

Founded by Shai Agassi, Better Place established a network of electric car charging and battery replacement stations in addition to selling Renault electric cars. Agassi was ousted by the company board last year and it subsequently filed for bankruptcy.

Tzachi Merkur, who owns Success Assets, bought Better Place at the end of August for NIS 11 million after another buyer - Yosef Abramowitz's Green EV - didn't manage to come up with the funds to acquire the company. Merkur owns real estate and parking facilities. At one time he bought the Eurotrade real estate firm and was also involved in high-tech startups, including the information security company Applicure.

Merkur's plans for Better Place are still not clear. Over the past couple of weeks the company's 18 battery charging and replacement stations around the country have operated normally, but the company has only committed in court to the continued operation of 15 of them. Merkur's company recently released data showing that the Better Place stations on the road to Eilat had particularly low customer volume. They may therefore be closed.

The monthly operating cost of Better Place's charging stations is estimated at about NIS 100,000 each, and their availability is indispensable to owners of the electric cars the company has sold. In the absence of charging stations, the cars can only be driven 100 kilometers before requiring a long-term charge.

A previous attempt to introduce electric cars to Israel failed when the Better Place company faltered.Credit: Emile Salman

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