Report: Apple might challenge Tesla with an electric minivan

Hundreds of Apple employees are working on an electric car that resembles a minivan, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. It’s possible the car will never make it to market, but the WSJ’s sources said the company has been meeting with manufacturers in Austria.

Apple CEO Tim Cook gave the car project, known as “Titan,” the go-ahead a year ago, according to the report. The team, which may grow to 1,000 people and has Apple vice president and former Ford engineer Steve Zadesky at its helm, is researching robotics, metals and materials. Apple has also hired Mercedes-Benz Research and Development North America lead Johann Jungwirth and industrial designer Marc Newson since the department’s formation.

The report indicated it will be several years before the car is completed and certified, and the minivan design is only the current iteration. The car’s battery and other electronics could also find their way into other Apple products.

Unlike Google’s car, Apple’s vehicle would not be self driving, the WSJ’s sources said.

10 ways Chinese investors are dominating cleantech

Chinese investors and the Chinese government are starting to aggressively fund U.S.-based cleantech startups. There’s been a half dozen of these deals in recent weeks and months, so I thought I’d put together this list to point out the 10 big ones I’ve been watching:

Battery maker Ener1 looks to restructure in bankruptcy court

Some good news and bad news for the beleaguered battery maker Ener1. On Thursday, the company announced it’s filing for Chapter 11 in New York, but has done so under a pre-arranged restructuring plan that includes commitments for up to $81 million from investors.

Better Place delivers first electric cars in Israel

Four years after Better Place CEO Shai Agassi announced the startup would build out its first electric vehicle charging network in Israel, this past weekend, Better Place delivered its first 10 cars in Israel to employees at businesses.

Aptera raises $2.25M in debt, restructuring

Three-wheeled electric-car startup Aptera has already delayed the launch of its car and has discussed restructuring and moving its manufacturing out of California. But it looks like the company is not completely down for the count: According to a filing, Aptera has raised $2.5 million in debt.

Electric bus maker Proterra raises $30M from Kleiner, GM

Electric bus maker Proterra announced Monday morning that it has raised $30 million from investors including Kleiner Perkins, GM Ventures, and Mitsui. Founded in 2004, Proterra makes drive components and energy storage systems for electric and hybrid buses, delivery vans and other commercial models.