Electric car maker Aptera Motors announced late yesterday that it has raised more than $24 million 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 included investments from Idealab, Esenjay Investments, The Simons Family and The Beall Family Trust.
An engineer with Google.org’s RechargeIT green car program, Rolf Schreiber, told us Google is interested in Aptera because its vehicles go “to the extreme of high-efficiency,” and are overall “cool,” and “modern.” Schreiber headed up Google.org’s recent plug-in vehicle driving test that found the company’s plug-in Prius’ achieved over 93 MPG.
The Carlsbad, Calif.-based startup will use the funds to start manufacturing the Typ-1s in nearby Vista, Calif. In March Aptera indicated it was close to production, and sent out a to-do list to supporters, saying the company planned to hire new employees, move to a bigger facility, crash test more test vehicles and fine-tune the production process. Though, “secure funding” must have been the biggest production milestone not named back then.
Aptera says it expects the first round of electric vehicles to start rolling off the line by the end of the year, with production ramping up through 2009. At the end of 2009, the company plans to start production of its hybrid model; down the road will work on more mainstream vehicles, Aptera CEO Steve Fambro told us in an interview in December.
Aptera already has a sizable following — the startups says it already has over 3,300 orders from California customers for what it claims will be the world’s most efficient passenger vehicle. The all-electric version will get 120 miles to the charge while the hybrid is estimated to get 300 mpg.
Aptera share Google’s $2.75 million investment with lithium-ion battery startup ActaCell. ActaCell announced Google’s investment as part of a $5.8 million involving DFJ, Applied Ventures and Good Energies as well.