Aptera electric vehicle startup goes belly up

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The now-defunct three-wheeled EV Aptera. Image: macntz/Flickr/CC BY

Aptera, the well-publicized electric vehicle startup, has decided to call it quits. A letter from the company’s president marked the official end of the tear-drop shaped, three-wheeled electric vehicle. According to the letter, the company was not able to raise sufficient capital to keep its doors open.

Remorseful announcement

The letter from president Paul Wilbur, a former Chrysler manager, said that the company was only able to raise $40 million of the proposed $150 million to make the company viable. The company has spent years developing the vehicle, and the tone of the letter reflected great regret.

“This is a difficult time for everyone connected with our company,” Wilbur wrote. “We have never been closer to realizing our vision. Unfortunately, though, we are out of resources.”

Close to government loan

The company was very close to obtaining a $150 million loan from the Department of Energy, but it was not able to raise the private investor funds required to secure the loan. The DOE loan would have been earmarked to manufacture a 5 passenger sedan version of the electric vehicle that would have been marketed for a modest $30,000.

CEO Marques McCammon said:

“We ran out of cash before we were able to get it done. We found a lot of investors willing to go in, but what were missing was the first deep-pocketed investor.”

An orderly dissolution

Wilbur has ordered the dissolution of the Carlsbad, Calif.-based company, which employed about 30 people. If it had secured the funding, the vehicle would have been manufactured at a former General Motors plant in Moraine, Ohio. The company planned to employ about 1,400 workers.

The launch of the Aptera has been delayed several times. Earlier this year the company stopped taking advance orders on the vehicle.

Strategic error?

Gigaom pointed out that Nissan and GM have already produced electric cars in the same price range as the proposed¬†Aptera, but with a far more mainstream platform. Developing the first prototype with a futuristic, streamlined three-wheeled carriage was, in the tech website’s opinion, perhaps a strategic error.


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