An Israeli court has approved the sale of bankrupt Better Place’s assets to a consortium led by solar energy pioneer Yosef Abramowitz, also known as Captain Sunshine. The group also includes Canadian investment banker Henry Shiner, and the non-profit EV Drivers Association. It will pay 18 million shekels ($4.9 million) for Better Place’s Israeli assets, and will also pay 25 million shekels for the intellectual property of Better Place Switzerland, Abramowitz told Reuters.
The new owners plan to open the company’s network to different EV models, and give it a new name. Abramowitz said that his group has secured 25 percent of the funds needed to operate the company for the next two years, and is seeking new investment of as much as $36 million. The group plans to retain 50 of the company’s employees.
Noam Grissel of the EV Drivers Association said that the company should break even on its investment in 18-24 months. “Our vision is to transform the charging network into an open, national technology and service platform for all current and future electric vehicles. We look forward to Israelis soon driving and charging Teslas and other electric vehicles that will save money for both drivers and government, fight climate change and keep our air clean.”
Abramowitz is the cofounder and president of Arava Power, which built a 4.95-megawatt solar field at Kibbutz Ketura two years ago. Like kindred spirit Elon Musk, he combines nationalism and environmentalism with his entrepreneurship.
“[I believe] Israel can be a platform to solve global issues. This my friend Saul Singer has taught me,” Abramowitz told The Jerusalem Post, referring to the co-author of the book Start-Up Nation. “Dependence on fossil fuels for power and transportation is killing our planet and poisoning our children.”
“We are committed to maintaining the 2,000 charging spots and basic battery swap services for all current and future EV drivers in Israel,” said Efi Shahak, co-chairman of the new company. While a number of the battery swapping stations unique to the Renault Fluence ZE will remain open, Abramowitz said that battery-charging infrastructure will be capable of working with other electric vehicles, and that the charging grid will eventually be powered by renewable energy sources.
“We have been cheering on Elon Musk and Tesla Motors, and view Elon’s recent announcement in regard to…battery switching capabilities as a validation of our battery switching technology,” said Henry Shiner. “This is our core overall vision for the EV industry, and we look forward to working together with Tesla in a win-win relationship, which will look to model what a national EV charging network should look like for the rest of the world.”