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Israeli clean tech car firm folds

    Better Place, the electric car company that was once a poster child for the Israeli clean-tech industry, went into liquidation this week.

    Founded in 2007 by Shai Agassi, a former executive at leading software firm SAP, the company raised over £500 million in investments, but did not see the sales it expected.

    Mr Agassi had predicted that there would be 100,000 electric cars on Israel’s roads by the end of 2011 but, to date, only 1,000 cars which use their battery exchange model have been purchased.

    The company masterminded a system which revolutionised the way electric cars could be used. Instead of relying on slow charging, drivers bought specially adapted cars, and paid a monthly fee to have access to stations where they swapped a depleted battery for a fresh one.

    However, the only car manufacturer that signed up to create an adapted model was Renault — which made the Fluence Z E sedan — greatly limiting consumer choice.

    Better Place chief executive officer Dan Cohen said: “Unfortunately, after a year’s commercial operation, it was clear to us that despite many satisfied customers, the wider public take up would not be sufficient and that the support from the car producers was not forthcoming.”

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