Aptera closes its doors

An e-mail from the CEO details the reasons the electric car startup decided to fold.

Liane Yvkoff
Liane Yvkoff is a freelance writer who blogs about cars for CNET Car Tech. E-mail Liane.
Liane Yvkoff
2 min read

A few months ago the electric car startup stopped taking orders and returned customer deposits for its three-wheeled vehicle, and today Aptera closed its business for good.

Aptera CEO Paul Wilbur sent a mass e-mail explaining the company's decision to shutter its doors. The e-mail explained that the company was tantalizingly close to obtaining a $150 million Department of Energy (DOE) Advance Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan that would enable them to open a manufacturing facility in Moraine, Ohio, creating 1,400 jobs. However, Aptera couldn't find matching funds from the private market to execute on those plans.

With its curvy body and pointed tail, the Aptera 2e was one of the more visually striking EVs slated to enter the market. Made of a space-age composite that was reportedly so strong you couldn't dent it with a sledgehammer, the vehicle was expected to have an electric range of 206 miles, according to simulated EPA testing. However, rather than greenlight the funky electric car that garnered deposits from approximately 2,500 prospective customers but little interest from investors, Wilbur revealed that the company intended to manufacture a more mainstream-friendly five-seater midsize electric vehicle that would be priced around $30,000.

In the e-mail Wilbur wrote:

"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...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."

The Aptera has previously been the darling of EV aficionados, but the vehicle failed to perform as well as expected in the X Prize EV competition.