Blog Post Invests in Electric Car Startups

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Battery startup ActaCell wasn’t the only recipient of funding from’s RechargeIT program. Last night at the Plug-In 2008 conference,’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 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. also invested in lithium ion startup ActaCell through its RechargeIT program (which we wrote about here.) contributed to ActaCell’s Series A round, which also included DFJ Mercury, Applied Ventures and Good Energies, and totaled $5.8 million.

16 Responses to “ Invests in Electric Car Startups”

  1. Jay Rosenberg

    We are completing and intent to commercialize our green, high efficiency, low cost, low weight multifuel engine called RET. A RET powered Aptera or a Tata Motors 5 Passenger Nano will achieve 150+ MPG on diesel fuel. RETs can reverse the role of Electric Motors, ie, they can serve as a fueled ultra light weight mechanical engine plug in, versus a battery plug in. A RET-Plug-In can thusly extend the range of an EV indefinitely by a) recharging the batteries , and b) Supplying sufficient power to get to a fuel station, a recharging facility or “home”. Jay R, CEO, Sannerprojects, Inc USA [email protected]

  2. James Severen

    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.


  3. kerry bradshaw

    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.