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Summary:

Battery startup ActaCell wasn’t the only recipient of funding from Google.org’s RechargeIT program. Last night at the Plug-In 2008 conference, Google.org’s Director of Climate Change & Energy Initiatives, Dan Reicher, announced a $2.75 million investment in green vehicle startup Aptera Motors and ActaCell. (That’s $2.75 million […]

Battery startup ActaCell wasn’t the only recipient of funding from Google.org’s RechargeIT program. Last night at the Plug-In 2008 conference, Google.org’s Director of Climate Change & Energy Initiatives, Dan Reicher, announced a $2.75 million investment in green vehicle startup Aptera Motors and ActaCell. (That’s $2.75 million between the two of them). Last month Reicher told us at its plug-in conference in Washington, DC, that Google was planning on making investments in green car startups through RechargeIT this summer.

While Google.org has had its plug-in vehicle research program for over a year now, moving to investing in startups is significant. Like Google has done for Internet and wireless, and has started to do for renewable energy, the step positions the search company’s RechargeIT program as an EV incubator and venture capital arm for the next-generation of cleaner transportation. As Craig put it after attending Google’s plug-in conference in June, the search giant has now added transportation to the list of industries it will attempt to revolutionize.

Aptera is a Carlsbad, Calif.-based startup that has been building a three-wheeled electric vehicle called the Typ-1, which will have an electric and range-extended versions. In March Aptera said after two years of research and development, it was ready to move into production of the electric three-wheeler that it says has recorded 231 miles per gallon. The company is hoping to bring its first vehicle to market by the fourth quarter of this year.

In December Aptera CEO Steve Fambro told us he started working on the car’s teardrop streamlined design some five years ago in his garage. And he said he sees the problem with the world’s transportation as the fact that “cars are not designed to be aerodynamic, they are designed largely as furniture.”

The company previously raised funds from Bill Gross’ Idealab and Esenjay Investments, and Fambro told us in December that it was in the process of raising its Series C round. Fambro predicts that the company’s capital costs can be pretty low to build three-wheelers and told us “To do something like this you need under $20 million dollars.”

But don’t count it out as a niche three-wheeler just yet. The company is planning to sell the cars for under $30,000 and Aptera is also working on its next generation of more mainstream electric vehicles that the company hopes to offer down the road. Fambro says the company expects to be profitable once it has sold 2,000 vehicles, forecast to take place in the second years of sales.

Google.org also invested in lithium ion startup ActaCell through its RechargeIT program (which we wrote about here.) Google.org contributed to ActaCell’s Series A round, which also included DFJ Mercury, Applied Ventures and Good Energies, and totaled $5.8 million.

  1. [...] Google’s move to invest in a lithium ion battery company could also have benefits for their various projects in mobile electronics. Reicher said Google.org would be making multiple investments in plug-in cars so we’ll likely be seeing some more announcements over the summer, perhaps in smart charging and electric vehicle infrastructure. Next up, the G-Car? Update: Google invests in electric car startup Aptera. [...]

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  2. kerry bradshaw Wednesday, July 23, 2008

    Talk about investing in failure – the Aptera is a 3 wheeled vehicle meant to avoid US safety regulations
    by being classified fraudulently as a motorcycle. It also is not a viable alternaive to the gas powered car – it simply cannot provide the basic job of taling its owner where he needs to go, when he need to go there. At most, this is an expensive 2nd car that can’t accomplish anything that can’t be accomplished
    much more cheaply and conveniently by the Chevy Volt, and without the need to maintain, garage and use the energy and emissions to build a second car.
    The car is an oxymoron. It ‘s appropriate that brainless, monopolistic Google would want to back such an useless vehicle.

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  3. James Severen Wednesday, July 23, 2008

    With such a new story, why on earth would you publish this piece with such an OLD (and outdated) photo??

    go to the website to get a vastly updated pic

    oh and kerry bradshaw: you have NO clue what you’re talking about.. have you read how much effort and design is being put into safety in the aptera? the car isn’t an “oxymoron” in any sense of the word… but most assuredly, YOU are the moron –

    I have much more faith in Google’s decision making than yours, and the research I’ve read on the car is phenomenal. Keep up the great work Aptera.

    thanks

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  4. kerry, another point beyond James’, the company is also working on more mainstream vehicles.

    James, good point on the photo, I updated the image with a newer one. Thanks.

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  5. Won’t all Aptera drivers and passengers need to wear helmets?

    And Steve Fambro never worked on any teardrop design. The vehicle is a direct adaptation of MIT’s Aztec solar vehicle, which was itself an adaptation of Kelly Londry’s fusion.

    For pictures of the Aztec:

    http://www.evadc.org/aztec.html

    For pictures of the Fusion:

    http://www.recumbents.com/wisil/misc/londry/default.htm

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  6. [...] in a Series C round, which it will use to move its three-wheel electric Typ-1 into production. Google.org’s investment in the electric vehicle maker, unveiled earlier this week, is part of this round, which also [...]

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  7. [...] pilot found this at earth2tech.com from Yahoo Buzz: Battery startup ActaCell wasn’t the only recipient of funding from [...]

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  8. [...] invested in two electric car companies, Earth2Tech reports. ActaCell and Aptera Motors pulled in $2.75 million. Greentech Media reports that Aptera [...]

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  9. [...] behind Google’s foray into transportation has only recently started to become clear. Google just named the first two recipients of funds from its plug-in vehicle program: lithium-ion battery maker ActaCell and electric vehicle maker [...]

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  10. [...] foray into transportation has only recently started to become clear. Google just named the first two recipients of funds from its plug-in vehicle program: lithium-ion battery maker ActaCell and electric-vehicle maker [...]

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