Update: In a followup to my previous post on electric car maker Aptera shutting its doors, I’ve confirmed with the Department of Energy that it did NOT give Aptera a conditional commitment for a loan of $150 million. Aptera CEO Paul Wilbur said in a letter this afternoon announcing that the company will close shop that: “after nearly two years of discussions, we had recently received a Conditional Commitment Letter for a $150 million loan.”
But not so much, according to a DOE spokesperson. This is just speculation on my part, but the process of applying for a DOE loan and loan guarantee involves many layers of back and forth, including drafts of term sheets and negotiations, and companies that do receive loans and loan guarantees first receive an official conditional commitment and then later the official loan or loan guarantee. But Aptera did not make it past that first hurdle, which is the conditional commitment, the DOE says definitively.
However, it should be noted that California Republican congressman Darrell Issa previously requested an expedited DOE loan for Aptera (via Bloomberg) and California Republican congressman Brian Bilbray pushed to change the law so that Aptera would be eligible to receive a DOE loan (it was previously excluded because the car had three-wheels not the standard four). Both Issa and Bilbray have been staunch critics of the DOE’s loan guarantee for now-bankrupt Solyndra. Think Progress previously reported that the Beall Family Trust is an investor in Aptera and Don Beall is a Republican donor in California.
Update: I spoke with Aptera co-founder Steve Fambro this weekend and he said that Aptera received a “draft conditional letter from the DOE some time ago, but the DOE went to great lengths to explain that the draft is not a conditional, and that Aptera can’t use that draft to fundraise, or even talk about it. Also, there was probably $50 million of work that needed to be done by Aptera to answer all of the DOE’s technical questions before the DOE would even consider a conditional approval.”