• Strategy
  • CFO.com | US

Charging Toward an Electric-car Future

Better Place CFO Charles Stonehill describes the grand plan of his venture-backed company to be a major factor in the move to battery-powered vehicles.

We were talking recently to one of the major [original equipment manufacturers], who confirmed that the one production line  they did not intend to make any cutbacks in was the electric vehicle line.

You spent 30 years in investment banking. What led you to make this career move?

Better Place has a reputation and a strong following those who have always been attracted to new technologies and new markets. I was aware of Better Place and [CEO Shai] Agassi, and I began talking a few months ago about the need to bring some financial expertise into the company. Now that we’re operating in multiple different countries around the world we need to have a financial plan to work in tandem with the roll out plan.

What are your challenges ahead?

The main challenge is not the proposition, which I think people find extremely attractive. The main challenge is the dysfunctional capital markets.

What skills from your investment banking career do you expect to benefit you in this role?

One is my experience in raising capital in many parts of the world, and working with governments and private sector companies all over the world. We are in a business that’s going to take us all around the world, where we will have to raise money along with private-sector and government-sector partners to build the required infrastructure.

Do you drive an electric car yourself?

I haven’t yet moved to Palo Alto, but it’s my intention to. I would love to drive an electric car, and I’ve been waiting anxiously to buy one with a range-extendable battery. I drive a motor bike currently.

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