Better Place’s Australian operations in limbo after high-profile chief Evan Thornley steps down

Global electric-car firm Better Place could shut down or downsize its Australian operations following the departure of its Australian chief Evan Thornley.

Thornley ceased working at Better Place only three months after he was promoted to the position of global CEO, taking over from founder Shai Agassi.

“In recent times, strong and honestly-held differences have emerged at the most senior levels of the company about how we best take the company forward,” Thornley wrote in an email quoted by the Financial Times. “I do not wish to be a barrier to that unity and so will step down and let the company transition to new leadership.”

The Australian arm was recently described by Better Place as an “important front and an attractive market”, but LeadingCompany’s sister site, Crikey, understands the local Australian operations hang by a thread due to the company’s global cash drain and a lack of interest from Australian institutional investors.  This follows unnamed “company insiders” telling a similar story to a political gossip site.

The global operation of Better Place posted a loss of $US64 million in the last quarter, and $US132 million last financial year. It has lost $490 million since it launched.

Thornley famously left a ministerial position in the Victorian Labor party in 2009 to head the Australian operations of Better Place. Previously, Thornley was the founder and CEO of search engine LookSmart, and a management consultant at McKinsey and Co. 

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