Better Place raising $100M more in the wake of Agassi departure

Better Place, the startup building an electric car charging network in Israel and Denmark, is raising another $100 million from investors, with much of it coming from Israel Corporation, according to Forbes, citing an Israel Corp. filing. The funding, which could include $67 million from Israel Corp., comes in the wake of Better Place’s charismatic leader CEO Shai Agassi leaving the company earlier this month.

The funding news is positive news for Better Place, indicating that the company’s major investor Israel Corp is willing to double down on its investment in the startup despite losses. According to an article in Israeli business paper Globes earlier this month, the Better Place board removed Agassi and replaced him with Evan Thornley, CEO of Better Place Australia, after Better Place wracked up losses of $490 million. As of earlier this month Israel Corp. owned almost a third of the company and held a $160 million loss.

Better Place has already raised more than $750 million, and had just raised a round in late August of $50 million loan (€40 million) from European Investment Bank to finish building out its networks in Denmark and Israel. The roll out of cars in Israel has been slower than expected — NPR reported as of August that 300 cars were sold in Israel, fewer than the company would like.

Better Place spokesperson Julie Mullins told me that in Denmark and Israel, Better Place has 750 customers combined, and that more than half of the infrastructure is deployed in both Israel and Denmark — there’s 24 out of 38 stations operational in Israel and in Denmark 12 out of 18 are operational, said Mullins. On top of that there are 2 to 3 stations being added each week in both countries, she said.

Better Place installs both charging stations and battery swap stations to create a network that enables its users to drive electric cars with the same convenience of gas cars. Better Place partners with utilities and governments in countries to provide subsidies to make the cost of the electric cars to its customers very low, and partners with car companies like Nissan to make the vehicles’ batteries swappable. The customer then pays a subscription service for driving and charging the electric car.