Blog Post

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

2 Responses to “Electric car maker Aptera shuts down”

  1. I doubt seriously that you could build your own in 5 years… not even caring about your background or expertise. If it could be done, it would be. RQ Riley is trying to build his own and after two years and tons of investment is still trying to get it to fly right.
    “Passionate competition” is squelched before you can even get a few on the road by nay-sayers and just plain ignorant folks. The educated derelicts that believe they know better shun any enterprise and scoff at anything different than the “norms” of society. Look at the Triac, the NmG, the DUO, the ZAP, the GEM, the Zenn, the Cree, the Arcimoto Pulse… and countless others that have fallen by the wayside of main stream vehicles. Millions of dollars have been spent, numerous potential customers have been disappointed. Each and every one of us vote with our dollars and darn near everyone is filing their support for Asian technology and purchasing foreign vehicles in this “Global” Economy. No one wants to support the long term solution, investors all want immediate gratification by profits instead of having the insight to build something here in the United States. Greed is rampant and it seems that the only way to get anything moving is to sell your soul to the devil politics that blaze the path or set up roadblocks along the way.

    Been there, done that, got that tee-shirt, wore it out and threw it away.
    I am driving a three-wheel electric vehicle that I built.

  2. Oh, for crying out loud. I’ve been waiting for this car for almost 5 years. In that time, I could have built my own. How much do they want for the company?
    Somehow, I just knew that as soon as they brought in Detroit management, the car would never see the light of day. Fambro should have just kept building them in the garage and selling them as one-offs. At least then some might be on the road, and the concept could get main stream exposure and possibly take off. Never mind surveys and PR events. Put the thing on the road and let the masses decide. If they needed more capital, then simply let folks like me in Connecticut and other states, put a deposit down, instead of limiting it to California. That might have generated millions.
    Heck, I can even see partnering with another X-Prize competitor, like Edison, to combine resources. But, please bring some passionate competition to the e-vehicle market. The major car companies seem only at best only lukewarm to the idea.