Aptera awarded $21M grant from California Energy Commission to help bring solar EVs to production

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Solar electric vehicle startup Aptera Motors shared encouraging news today as it has been awarded a grant from the California Energy Commission (CEC) to the tune of $21 million. The grant comes as welcomed news for Aptera as it looks to reach scaled production of its namesake solar EV as one of the few startups left trying to successfully scale the sustainable technology for the masses.

While we’ve seen other solar electric vehicle startups shutter or pivot their businesses away from EV manufacturing, Aptera Motors continues to push forward with hopes of achieving what its competitors could not – scaled SEV series production.

Aptera’s long journey toward this goal made significant headway in January with the debut of its Launch Edition solar EV. While the technology set to debut on the Launch Edition Aptera looks beyond promising in unmatched range and aerodynamics, the company’s cofounders shared that massive amounts of additional funding were still required to reach production, which remains at least a year away.

One week later, the startup launched a crowdfunding campaign called Accelerate Aptera seeking to raise an additional $20-$50 million to help propel its technology toward production. The clever campaign asks its loyal community of reservation holders to invest at least $10,000 in the cause as part of a sort of funding contest, complete with a leaderboard that prioritizes first SEV deliveries to whomever donates the most.

To date, the Accelerate program has garnered nearly $8 million in funding and secured production slots for 544 reservation holders, with the current leader’s investment eclipsing $1 million. At the time of the crowdfunding announcement, Aptera’s co-founders also announced the company had received a grant for $21 million, but it was all but guaranteed since the process would not be completed until February or March.

Today however, Aptera has confirmed an official award of the state grant in California which, combined with its Accelerate program, will help the startup inch ever closer to scaled SEV production. Here’s the latest.

  • Aptera Production
  • Aptera Production

Aptera Motors SEV production progress accelerates

In a release today, the startup confirmed the award of the $21 million grant, which will support its Solar Mobility Manufacturing Project in California. The California Energy Commission awarded the money to Aptera in support of the project, which entails manufacturing components and vehicles in the state while lowering cumulative greenhouse gases (GHGs). CEC commissioner Patty Monahan spoke:

Aptera represents California’s innovative and entrepreneurial spirit when it comes to electric vehicles, harnessing the power of the sun to go further on truly zero-emission solar energy. The Energy Commission is proud to fund Aptera to manufacture the world’s first mass-produced, three-wheeled solar car. Meeting California’s goal to zero out pollution from transportation over the next 15-25 years will require innovation and thinking outside the box.

As we previously reported, the grant will operate as a reimbursement program, meaning Aptera must complete eligible purchases (production equipment, machines, etc.) up to $21 million with its own money first, then the CEC will pay the company back after. Still, fresh funding is exciting news for both employees hard at work at Aptera HQ and those reservation holders looking to get behind the wheel of one of the first production model SEVs. Co-founder and co-CEO Chris Anthony also spoke about the grant:

Working with the CEC enables us to produce grid-free, carbon neutral solar mobility, while creating new jobs for all Californians (targeting 10% in underserved communities). Our over-arching goal is to meet the demand for our solar electric vehicles to have real impact on climate change, sharing in CEC’s ultimate mission.

Looking ahead, Aptera Motors is already planning to bolster SEV production in California by moving its specialized in-wheel motor manufacturing over from Europe once scale has been achieved. The Accelerate Aptera program is scheduled to end on March 26, 2023. From there, we will get the final investment total from reservation holders, joining the $21 million already awarded.

The Aptera SEV is still available for reservations for only $100 down, $70 if you use this link.

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