Electric car pioneer runs out of road

A PIONEERING electric car venture once praised by Bill Clinton has admitted defeat on its plans to bring the technology into the mainstream.

Better Place, which also attracted acclaim from Israeli President Shimon Peres for its plan to create a network of stations at which electric cars could swap their empty batteries for recharged ones, yesterday announced it was filing for liquidation.

Founded in 2007 by Israeli entrepreneur Shai Agassi, Better Place initially raised about $850m (£562m) from various investors including HSBC and General Electric, and in 2008 agreed a tie-up with Renault.

The deal with the French car giant involved a commitment to put 100,000 electric cars on the roads of its test markets Israel and Denmark, but only about 1,300 made it.

Dan Cohen, chief executive of Better Place, said it was "a difficult day for all of us". He added: "Unfortunately, after a year's commercial operation, it was clear to us that despite many satisfied customers, the wider public take-up would not be sufficient".