Aptera Motors Closes

Aptera Motors

Aptera Motors, a Carlsbad, California-based company that was developing an ultra-efficient vehicle, recently announced that it is ceasing operations.  The following statement was issued by Aptera CEO Paul Wilbur last week:

After years of focused effort to bring our products to the market, Aptera Motors is closing its doors, effective today.  This is a difficult time for everyone connected with our company because we have never been closer to realizing our vision.  Unfortunately, though, we are out of resources.

It is especially disappointing since we were so close….

Aptera executives had been engaged in exhaustive due diligence with the Department of Energy (DOE) pertaining to an ATVM (Advance Technology Vehicle Manufacturing) loan. Our business plan was examined from top to bottom by internal agency representatives, independent consultants and experts in academia.  They did an amazing job of vetting us and they tested every possible weakness in our plan. And after nearly two years of discussions, we had recently received a Conditional Commitment Letter for a $150 million loan.  

The ATVM loan would have provided funding for the development and commercialization of a five-passenger, midsized sedan (similar to a Toyota Camry) that would be base priced at less than $30,000 and deliver more than a 190 mile per gallon equivalent.  The concept of this vehicle had been in place since the very beginning of Aptera, and we had been wholly focused on its development for the last year.  The last remaining hurdle was finding new funds to match the DOE loan.

We were so optimistic that the company would move forward that we were in discussions to reactivate a mothballed automotive plant in Moraine, Ohio. In the past months we had engaged with the labor union that operated that facility to discuss the hiring of 1,400 new job opportunities. These jobs would have reactivated talented workers who had been dismissed when the facility was closed.  

During the same time, we continued development of our patent-pending composite manufacturing system that enables energy efficient vehicle production by drastically reducing vehicle weight (by as much as 30%) while tripling its strength. This same patent-pending system allowed us to finish the surface of our composites without manual finishing and without the high capital cost of a typical automotive paint shop. In all, the process would save nearly $750 million versus a typical volume auto assembly plant startup.

We were well on the way to satisfying the vision of efficiency on which the company was founded and we are confident that with time and capital we could still achieve our goal. The Aptera formula: aerodynamics plus lightweight design (through composites) delivered efficiency of 206 EPA miles per gallon in tests at Argonne National Labs. That wasn’t a simulation; it was real measured performance. Despite that promise of efficiency, this challenged market — specifically, large private investors — did not have an appetite to lead an investment for the perceived low-volume return of our three-wheeled vehicle. So we reprioritized our product plan to four-door sedans, which also cost us time.

We remain confident, even as this chapter closes, that Aptera has contributed new technologies to build a future for more efficient driving. Through the dedicated staff at Aptera, our board and suppliers, we have touched this future. All that remains is for someone to grab it. We still believe it will happen.  

Paul Wilbur
President and CEO
Aptera Motors

Prior Green VC coverage of Aptera Motors is available here.

Aptera Motors Raises More Than $24 Million in Series C Funding

Aptera Motors

Aptera Motors, a Carlsbad, California-based company that is developing an ultra-efficient vehicle, announced on July 24th that it raised more than $24 million at the close of its series C round of financing.  The company said that the funds will be used to start initial production of its Aptera Typ-1 vehicle and for a new manufacturing facility located in Vista, California.  Aptera Motors’ investors now include Idealab, Esenjay Investments, The Simons Family, The Beall Family Trust, and Google, Inc.

"We’re excited that the tremendous demand that we’ve received from the thousands of individuals who have pre-ordered their Aptera Typ-1 has been matched with a strong endorsement from our investment partners," said Steve Fambro, founder and CEO of Aptera Motors. "The vehicle is exciting, the timing seems perfect and the market is eager to buy one of these first built units. These new funds will be instrumental as we pursue our goal of bringing the Typ-1 to market later this year."

"With energy prices and oil prices where they are, we feel dramatic increases in the efficiency of transportation, like the Typ-1, are greatly needed," said Bill Gross, chairman and CEO of Idealab. "The Aptera Typ-1 is designed to be the lowest energy way to transport two passengers safely from point A to point B. Clearly, our expectations for this first vehicle and this company are very high."

According to the company, the Aptera Typ-1 will be "the most efficient passenger vehicle in the world."  The first production models are scheduled for release in December 2008.  The all-electric version will achieve up to 120 miles per charge, and the hybrid version (which will be available 12 months after) will achieve nearly 300 MPG.  The following video, from the September 2007 Aptera launch party, provides additional information on Aptera Motors.

For more information:

Aptera Motors and ActaCell Receive $2.75 Million from Google.org


In June, 2007 Google.org launched its RechargeIT Initiative to speed the adoption of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and vehicle-to-grid technology.  At that time it issued a $10 million request for investment proposals (RFP).  Today, Google.org announced its first investments from this RFP — a total of $2.75 million to the following two companies:

Aptera Motors
Aptera Motors is building an ultra-high efficiency vehicle based on improved aerodynamics and composite materials.  The company’s first prototype achieved more than 230 miles per gallon during testing, and it is developing all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles based on this design.  The following video provides additional information on Aptera Motors:

ActaCell is working to commercialize lithium-ion battery technology developed at the University of Texas at Austin. The company’s technology aims to improve battery cycle life and lower costs, while maintaining a focus on battery safety.

For more information: