Green auto pioneer and entrepreneur Shai Agassi will hand over the CEO role to his head of Australian operations
Better Place founder Shai Agassi, a self-proclaimed advocate of "a world without gas," stepped down as CEO on Tuesday.
Agassi, who started the Israeli company in 2007, will remain on the board of directors. Evan Thornley, the head of Better Place's Australian operations, will take Agassi's place as the new CEO.
"I am proud of the Better Place people and the team that I am leaving behind who will take this company to the next chapter," Agassi said in a statement released by the company. Better Place told BloombergBusinessweek that the changeover came at a "natural point in the company's evolution."
BloombergBusinessWeek adds that Agassi and his board had divergent views on the future deployment of Better Place's battery-powered vehicles. According to the New York Times, the company's $477 million in losses since the beginning of 2010 may have also sparked Agassi's departure.
Better Place's business model targets the high price of electric vehicles.Better Place cars run on switchable batteries, rather than the fixed ones found in traditional electric cars. Separating the cost of the car from that of the battery allows customers to pay a monthly subscription fee for energy use, rather than paying for both up-front. Better Place first started delivering cars in May, to 110 customers in Israel.
Under Agassi's leadership, the company invested $500 million to design and rev up its battery charging stations in Israel and Denmark, notes Forbes. Investors including General Electric and HSBC poured $750 million into the company, which currently has more than 750 customers.
"We owe Shai our gratitude for turning his powerful vision into a reality,” said Idan Ofer, the chairman of Better Place's board.