A $770m investment by shareholders including HSBC Group and
General Electric in electric car company Better Place
has been questioned by leasing companies in its rollout market of
Founder and CEO Shai Agassi, who plans to make
the company fully commercial in 2012, put into effect a pilot run
in Israel, to the consternation of the market’s motor-leasing
A recent investment on Friday of $200m by General Electric and
UBS AG added to an existing $500m of investment by HSBC Group,
Morgan Stanley Investment Management and others, bringing the
company’s total valuation to $2.25bn.
“We’ve worked hard over the past four years to engineer and
build a technology solution that competes with oil-based
transportation,” said Agassi, whose Renault SA-made vehicles are
retailing at $33,000. “I believe that our investors should be
applauded for having the vision to finance the future of
However, Israeli rental agencies have showed concern that the
vehicles will quickly lose their value due to switchable batteries,
and the saving on petrol will quickly be outweighed by the constant
purchasing of electricity.
“In the beginning, those that move to the Fluence electric won’t
do it for economic reasons. They’ll do it for environmental
reasons, or to be early adaptors,” said Nitzan Avivi, editor of
Israel’s Auto magazine.
Better Place have confirmed 200 letters from Israeli fleet
operators that intend to include the ‘Fluence’ battery-powered car
as part of their fleets when it hits the roads.
“We don’t have a demand issue, we have a rollout issue,” Agassi
said. “The first year we are going to take care to have a carefully