Google.org-backed US-based electric car developer Aptera is closing down operations due to an inability to raise funds from private investors, chief executive officer Paul Wilbur announced in an e-mail Thursday last week. Aptera secured $24m in a 2008 series C round, garnering part of a $2.75m investment from Google under philanthropic unit Google.org’s RechargeIt initiative, supporting electric vehicles. Also contributing to the round were business incubator Idealab and Esenjay Investments. The bulk – $20m, according to Thomson Reuters – was provided by Idealab. Aptera also raised $9.8m, in April 2010, in a round supported by power generation company NRG Energy. In July, Aptera raised $2.2m in debt funding and had secured a $150m loan from the US government’s Department of Energy but was unable to raise any of the $80m from private investors which was conditional to the loan. A tear-shaped, mid-size sedan model, to be priced at under $30,000 was due to go into production, and Aptera was in discussions to re-open a disused automotive plant in Ohio to produce the five-door electric car. Wilbur said in a statement: "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 light weight 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 reprioritised our product plan to four-door sedans, which also cost us time." News provider peHUB reports Wilbur stating in an interview that Aptera will not file for bankruptcy, but will instead implement "an orderly liquidation", and that Aptera is currently in talks with prospective buyers to sell on some of its technology.
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Aptera sheds a tear as it powers down
Dec 8, 2011 • Robert Lavine
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