California-based car maker Aptera Motors, builders of the super-aerodynamic 2e EV, is pulling the plug, handing over the keys, gliding off into the sunset…and draining the battery (an important safety measure).
CEO Paul Wilbur made the sad announcement on Friday. “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.”
Aptera was founded in 2005, and had raised around $40 million from private investors. The company was hoping to score a $150 million-dollar loan from the Department of Energy, but was unable to line up the necessary matching funds, and that seems to have been the final blow.
Not everyone was writing sympathy cards. Online comments like “is anyone surprised?” came not only from the usual oil-enamored trolls, but also from a few serious commentators, who feel that outlandish-looking vehicles like the Aptera 2e tend to stoke the public’s perception of EVs as impractical toys. In fact, Aptera seems to have figured that out, and had recently shifted gears to concentrate on a five-passenger, mid-sized electric sedan. It was the conventional-looking sedan that the DOE’s 150 bananas would have financed. But it was too late.
Company spokesmen blamed a capital market that they said had become cool to EVs. However, at a time when Tesla’s stock is soaring, Smith Electric Vehicles is planning an IPO, and Fisker just secured a fat new pot of VC money, it seems more likely that it was the company itself, or at least public perceptions of it, that caused investors to burn out.