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Aptera pulls plug on its electric car business

Consumer Reports News: December 05, 2011 03:08 PM

Aptera, a California startup electric carmaker once favored to win the Automotive X Prize, announced Friday that it is closing its doors after failing to secure a government loan. The company has received a commitment letter from the Dept of Energy for a $150 million loan, conditional on Aptera securing matching funds, according to Being unable to raise the money, Aptera has pulled the plug, stating that it is out of resources.

“It is especially disappointing since we were so close…,” said Aptera President Paul Wilbur in a released statement.

The three-wheeled Aptera was a darling of California electric-car fans in 2007 and even had hundreds of deposits from customers eager to own the distinctive green machine. The company claimed a range of 100 miles from the aircraft-designed electric car, and it had plans to develop a plug-in hybrid version with a longer range, as well as a five-passenger midsized sedan.

Last winter the company had to return the deposits, which starved Aptera of development money. Aptera was planning to buy a shuttered car factory in Ohio to build its little two-seaters that looked like wingless Cessnas.

The Aptera 1e made some great video in our testing at the X Prize competition in Michigan. But it was also the best-finished car in the competition, since it had already undergone years of development work before the competition even began. In validation testing following the competition, the Aptera posted the equivalent of 206 mpg at Argonne National Laboratory.

In the competition, the two-seat 1e was a finalist in the competitive side-by-side alternative class. In the final race, however, it overheated and had to retire.

Perhaps that’s a metaphor for Aptera as a whole. The company and car were filled with such promise, it is sad to see that in the end, the plug was pulled when the e1 was so close to hitting the streets.

Eric Evarts

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