'No return' tip for outlay on electric cars
A Better Place recharge station. Photo: Supplied
Electricity retailer ActewAGL says it "unlikely" to see a return on its $2 million investment in the international electric car company Better Place.
The company's Australian operation said on Thursday that it expected a "wind down" of its operation after a similar statement from the Better Place parent organisations.
Better Place launched its scheme in 2011 for a network of 16 re-charge points around Canberra.
But only 13 of the promised 16 recharging ports have materialised around the capital, despite a power giveaway deal announced last month.
ActewAGL was one of several investors to take part in Better Place's $25 million capital raising exercise in 2009.
Canberra's dominant power retailer also had a $60 million, 10-year deal with Better Place to supply electricity for the network.
The news comes in the wake of ActewAGL's failure to land a $16 million contract to supply electricity, with the deal going instead to a Queensland company.
ActewAGL's general manager business development and strategy Dianne O'Hara said the development was disappointing and a lost opportunity for Canberra.
"Given the current circumstances, it is not likely that ActewAGL will see a return on its investment in Better Place Australia," Ms O'Hara said. "However, the investment that ActewAGL made in Better Place Australia has yielded a number of positive results.
"For example, we have gained important technical understanding of how best to meter and bill electric vehicle customers in the ACT.
"Better Place Australia has also made headway in raising awareness of electric vehicles in the Australian market.
"ActewAGL is disappointed by the news that Better Place Australia will wind down its operations in Australia and sees this as a lost opportunity for Canberra.
"However, this does not mean that there cannot be other ways to roll out an electric vehicle network in the ACT.''
Better Place spokeswoman Felicity Glennie-Holmes said the wind down of Australian operations would be "orderly".
"We anticipate that Better Place will begin working towards an orderly wind down of our operations here in Australia," Ms Glennie-Holmes said.
"Our priority will be to manage this process appropriately and fulfil our obligations to all our stakeholders, including plug-in drivers who are using the Better Place network of charge spots in Canberra.
"We continue to believe in the transformational nature of Better Place and its potential in Australia in the long-term, and we leave the door open to growing the business in Australia after proving scalability in Denmark and Israel."