Electric car maker Aptera shuts down


Updated: Electric car maker Aptera has officially shut its doors, according to a letter from president and CEO Paul Wilbur (the letter is published in full on The Chronicle’s blog). The company is “out of resources,” writes Wilbur, after spending years developing three-wheeled and four-wheeled versions of its all-electric unusual tear-drop shaped car.

Turns out Aptera was pretty close to getting a $150 million loan from the DOE, though it wasn’t able to get enough private investor funds to actually clinch the DOE loan. Aptera says it got a letter from the Department of Energy indicating it would get a conditional commitment from the DOE’s Advance Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) for $150 million to build a five-passenger $30,000 electric sedan. However large private investors weren’t willing to invest the matching funds needed. Update: The DOE confirms with me that it did not give Aptera a conditional commitment for a $150 million loan. See new story on that here.

Aptera has long been struggling and delayed the launch of its inaugural three-wheeled car the 2e and earlier this year stopped offering potential customers a chance to reserve it. Earlier this Spring the company publicly discussed restructuring and moving its manufacturing out of California to cut costs and this Summer raised some debt financing.

Such an unusual three-wheeled electric car was never going to be a big money-maker, and using that as the launch car before building a four-wheeled car seems like a strategic error. Electric car makers are already hurting this year, as electric cars are very slowly being adopted. At the same time big automakers Nissan and GM already launched their inaugural electric cars this year that were in the same price range as Aptera’s, and are far more mainstream cars.

Aptera was backed by Idea Labs, power company NRG Energy, and Google.org.

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