It was an audacious idea that came to symbolize Israel's self-described status as "Start-Up Nation," a company that believed it could replace most gasoline-powered cars with electric vehicles and reduce the world's reliance on oil — and all within a few years.

But it all came crashing down.

The company, Better Place, started out as a source of pride and a symbol of Israel's status as a global high-tech power, but it suffered from a local brand of hubris and overreach. On Sunday, it announced plans to liquidate after burning through almost a billion dollars and failing to sell its silent fleet of French-made sedans to a skeptical public.

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