Google's RechargeIT Invests $2.75 Million
Google's philanthropic arm, via its RechargeIT program, has just bet $2.75 million on two companies trying to make plug-in hybrids and electric cars a reality: Aptera Motors, maker of the three-wheeled two-seater Typ-1 (we wrote about their prototype here), and ActaCell, a spinoff from the University of Texas at Austin that is working on lithium-ion battery technology with "substantially longer cycle life at low cost while maintaining safety". We don't know what share of the $2.75 went to which company, but we know that ActaCell raised a total of $5.8 million in a recent Series A round, including Google's money.
The Aptera Typ-1 car (all pictures in this post are of it, since there are no photos of ActaCell's batteries yet) will be available in both electric and series plug-in hybrid versions. Fuel economy for the plug-in version is estimated to reach as high as 300 mpg if the car is plugged in every 120 miles (which is way more than what most drivers, even in the US, drive in one day). The Typ-1 has a drag coefficient of 0.11, compared with 0.19 for the record-holding EV1.
How Much for the Aptera?
According to the page where you can reserve your Aptera Typ-1 (deposit of $500), the all-electric model will sell for $27,000 and the series plug-in hybrid version will sell for $30,000.
ActaCell's Lithium-Ion Battery Technology
ActaCell is still in development phase, so not too much is know about it's technology. An interesting quote from GreenCarCongress:
Professor Manthiram’s lab at UT is developing low-cost, high-power cathode materials for HEVs and PHEVs, and nanostructured anode materials for portable and transportation applications. The group is pursuing stabilized spinel, nano olivines, and complex layered oxide cathodes as well as nanocomposite alloy anodes to enable next-generation lithium-ion battery technology.
Google's In House Plug-in Hybrid Car Program
As we wrote about a few months ago, Google has its own plug-in hybrid research program. They use modified Toyota Priuses and make a good portion of the data they gather public. That's good, but investing in outside companies is also a very good idea because at the end of the day, Google's focus is still not transportation. Their money can probably be used more effectively by funding the cream of the crop of startups that specialize in that field.
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More on Google.org's Investments in Aptera and ActaCell
ActaCell Press Release
Google.org Invests in Electric Car Startups
Google plugs cash into plug-ins
Google.org gives electric cars a push, with investments in Aptera and ActaCell
New Li-ion Spin-Off from U Texas Closes $5.8M Series A Financing; Google.org an Investor
Battery Startup ActaCell Charges Up with Google, DFJ