Report: Importer Literally Crushes Israel’s ‘Better Place’ Dreams

YERUSHALAYIM -
Offices of the Electric Car company Better Place are closed, near the Glilot Interchange in central Israel. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash 90)
Offices of the Electric Car company Better Place are closed, near the Glilot Interchange in central Israel. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash 90)

Israel’s dreams of clean, green, electric car transportation are being crushed – literally, a report on Channel Two said Tuesday. Footage has emerged of the last vehicles of the Better Place company that were still on Israel’s roads being crushed, as the importer responsible for the cars, Carasso Trading, seeks to buy up whatever Better Place vehicles are still around.

Better Place was formed nine years ago, with much optimism that the well-funded (to the tune of $600 million) company could make electric cars commercially viable – and make Israel a center of the technology. However, the much-anticipated Renault model vehicles sporting the Better Place engine turned out to be a major sales flop – with many blaming regulation and pricing models of the company for the debacle.

Only a few thousand Better Place vehicles were ever sold, and it is estimated that about 1,000 remain on the road, some in the hands of private owners, and some in the hands of leasing companies. After Better Place went bankrupt several years ago, the bankruptcy court ordered Carasso to continue supplying service for the customers who had bought the car in good faith – which required the company to maintain charging stations and supply and maintain exchange batteries, which drivers “flipped” at the charging stations.

Owners of the vehicles have been vociferous in demanding that Carasso fulfill its part of the deal, and have filed many complaints with the courts over what they claim are violations of the court order. As a result, Channel Two said, the company has been seeking to buy up the Better Place vehicles still on the road, paying full current value for them, and offering incentives for customers to trade in their cars. The old cars are being destroyed, the Channel Two footage showed.

Carasso declined to comment on the story.