Evan Thornley, the Australian chief executive of Better Place, the company behind rechargeable batteries that can be swapped in and out of electric vehicles, has resigned from the role after just three months in a sign that all is not well at the high-profile company.

Earlier this month, Tel Aviv-based Better Place said Thornley, appointed in October after founder Shai Agassi was sacked as chief executive by the board, would be replaced with immediate effect by chairman Idan Ofer and global chief executive Alan Gelman.

Thornley, who made his fortune by founding and selling search engine LookSmart and later became a Victorian MP in the Brumby Labor government, joined Better Place as head of the company’s Australian operation in 2009. In an email to staff published by, Thornley says differences about strategy led to his January 16 removal from the top global position.

“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,” he writes. “I do not wish to be a barrier to that unity and so will step down.”

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