JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- The new CEO of electric car venture Better Place has stepped down just four months after a company shake-up put him in charge, officials said.
The news of Evan Thornley's departure is the latest sign that investors are unhappy with the California-based operator's sluggish sales. In 2009, Better Place and partner Renault committed to a volume of 100,000 electric vehicles in Denmark and Israel by 2016.
About 600 of Renault EVs are on the road in Israel and even fewer in Denmark, Alan Gelman, the Better Place's chief financial officer and head of operations in Israel, said on Wednesday.
Thornley, who replaced founder Shai Agassi in October, butted heads with Better Place's board over the focus of the company, Gelman said.
"We at times were too focused on turning into a global company and expanded too fast, but we have to focus on local operations and selling cars," he told Reuters. "Most time and effort will be on operations in Israel and Denmark."
Better Place's gasoline-free network, launched last year in Israel and Denmark with much fanfare, is made up of charging spots and battery swap stations that increase driving range. Gelman and his Danish counterpart, Johnny Hansen, will be running the company until a new CEO is found.
An earnings report published in November by conglomerate Israel Corp., which owns about 30 percent of Better Place, said the electric car company had an accumulated deficit of $561.5 million and that more losses were expected.
Gelman said that the company had turned a corner in recent weeks with large sales to fleets. "We have gained a lot of momentum of late and we are selling a lot more cars," he said. "The days of not selling cars are over."