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Australian takes top job at Better Place

Fast charge: Better Place Australia CEO Evan Thornley has been appointed global chief of the company.

Founder out and Thornley in as Better Place brings in Aussie to run the show

General News logo3 Oct 2012


BETTER Place Australia chief executive officer Evan Thornley has taken over as CEO of the global electric car-charging infrastructure company, replacing founder Shai Agassi.

Mr Thornley was asked by the board to take the reins immediately after a meeting at its world headquarters in Tel Aviv yesterday, and will now spend much of his time in Israel running the multi-national business.

Better Place Australia chief financial officer Antony Cohen will step up as acting CEO of the Australian subsidiary pending a decision on a permanent appointment.

Mr Agassi will remain on the global board and continue as a shareholder, according to a statement issued by Better Place Israeli media reports suggest Mr Agassi was asked to step down by board of the company, which reportedly has lost about $477 million since the beginning of 2010.

Better Place is rolling out car charging and battery swap infrastructure in various countries, including Denmark and the Netherlands, in anticipation of wide-spread take up of electric vehicles in future.

 center imageLeft: Better Place founder Shai Agassi.

Mr Thornley made his fortune as an entrepreneur in the dot.com boom and then served briefly in Victoria’s state Labor government before jumping ship to head up Better Place Australia in 2009.

“Four years ago, Shai asked me to join the Better Place mission and bring it to Australia,” he said.

“It has been my pleasure to lead that effort along with my colleague CEOs in Israel, Denmark and now the Netherlands.

“Today, it is an honour for me to step up and lead this fantastic global team on a day-to-day basis.

“We have the only fully integrated charge network platform in the world that’s live and operating and serving satisfied customers.

“We start the second chapter with a tremendous strength of global investors and management team.

“Our relentless focus now is to grow and satisfy a global customer base and build powerful industry partnerships.” Better Place Australia spokesperson Felicity Glennie-Holmes said it would be business as usual at the Australian operation, which is working on a number of partnerships to expand its car-charging network.

Better Place chairman Idan Ofer said that in his four years as CEO of Better Place in Australia, Mr Thornley had built an impressive track record, “particularly around establishing a strong set of industry partners there”.

“Evan brings the right combination of entrepreneurship and coalition and team building to take Better Place to the next level.” Among those partnerships is EV Engineering – a consortium of companies that have developed rear-drive all-electric Holden Commodores for evaluation – and a Canberra fast-charge network.

The Canberra network so far has 16 charging points, with a further 100-odd around Australia.

Better Place also has entered into a joint program with Holden to provide customer charging services for its Volt ranger-extender electric car.

The company says it still expects to build its first battery swap station in Australia when the Renault Fluence ZE arrives in this market late this year.

The Fluence ZE so far is the only mass-produced EV capable of accommodating the battery swap system in the Australian market.

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