After a tumultuous few months, the fate of the Australian division of electric car infrastructure startup Better Place is now clear, with confirmation there will be an “orderly wind-down” of the local business after the global parent company revealed on Tuesday it would shutter its North American business and stop investing in Australian operations.
In a statement on Tuesday, newly installed Better Place CEO Dan Cohen said that, following the company’s decision to focus on operations in Denmark and Israel, consultations were underway “with a view to securing an orderly wind-down of its non-core activities in North America and limiting any further investment in Australia beyond its current commitments.”
Better Place Australia has since confirmed that it will start work towards its own “orderly wind-down” of operations, including a management team that boasted former Holden executive Alison Terry and former Champ private equity boss David Jones.
“Our priority will be to manage this process appropriately and fulfil our obligations to all our stakeholders, including plug-in drivers who are using the Better Place network of charge spots,” said a company spokesperson in an emailed statement to RenewEconomy this morning. “We continue to believe in the transformational nature of Better Place and its potential in Australia in the long-term, and we leave the door open to growing the business in Australia after proving scalability in Denmark and Israel.”
Cohen, in his statement, echoed this confidence in the “long-term potential” of the Australian and North American markets, but said some tough decisions were required, and this meant narrowing the company’s focus to Denmark and Israel, where the complete infrastructure was already in place and commercial operations fully underway – and where, says Cohen, “sales of new electric cars are gathering momentum.”
“We have demonstrated that Better Place works as a concept,” Cohen said. “We need to prove to our customers, suppliers and investors that we have a sustainable, scalable model. To do so we are now focusing on realizing the full potential of what we have built, and that means concentrating our resources and energy in the near term, on Denmark and Israel, where we have customers on the road enjoying our switching and charging networks.”