Better Place Signs With New Company to Manage, Expand Electric Car Recharging Network

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Tzachi Merkur, who acquired the electric car infrastructure company Better Place in August, announced Tuesday that he would be expanding his network of charging stations in Israel, and from now on will do business as DRiiVZ-Better Place. DRiiVZ is the name of the company Merkur has hired to manage the network of stations as well as to provide customer service and billing for Better Place.

The management of DRiiVZ is Israeli and currently does business in the United States and Europe. It plans on providing a Hebrew-language cellular telephone application for Better Place customers here that would provide a map of the network of stations, navigational tools for travelers and information about which stations are available without a wait. The system is designed to replace the information system that Better Place cars are currently equipped with.

Founded by Shai Agassi, Better Place established a network of electric car charging and battery replacement stations and sold Renault electric cars. Agassi was ousted by the company board last year and it subsequently filed for bankruptcy. Merkur's Success Assets bought Better Place 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. 

Among the new DRiiVZ electric car charging stations that are planned, some will be located at parking facilities owned by Merkur. The total number of new stations in the works is not clear. Merkur promised the court that he would maintain at least 15, but it is not certain for how long. DRiiVZ CEO Doron Frenkel said his company plans on directing its efforts toward expanding the network of charging stations at optimal locations.

Better Place also plans to sell its inventory of unsold Renault Electric cars at NIS 80,000 each, not including electricity costs, which are billed separately. Prior to Merkur's acquisition of Better Place, the company had purchased 350 vehicles from Renault that it did not manage to clear through customs before going bankrupt.

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.

A charging station for Better Place's electric car. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

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