Wilbur said Aptera, of Carlsbad, Calif., was negotiating to use a former General Motors plant in Moraine, Ohio, to produce the sedan.
The company had talked with the labor union that operated the plant to discuss hiring 1,400 workers who had lost their jobs, Wilbur said. GM produced Chevrolet, GMC and Saab sport- utility vehicles at the Moraine plant until closing it in 2008.
He described the car as having an all-composite body and getting fuel economy equivalent to 190 mpg, with a 130-mile range.
Aptera's work force of about 30 employees was let go, he said.
Aptera had obtained support from Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., for the U.S. loan.
Issa is among Republicans who have criticized the Obama administration for issuing a $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra LLC, a solar-panel maker that filed for bankruptcy protection in September.
“With officials playing the role of venture capitalist and picking favorites like Solyndra, success for companies like Aptera that have to compete against others with government sponsorship can be especially difficult,” Issa said in a statement. “Aptera never received the taxpayer backing they sought, and perhaps the only good news” is that it failed “before federal funds were put at risk.”
Damien LaVera, an Energy Department spokesman, said that “Aptera did not receive a conditional commitment for a loan from the department.”
He declined to comment further on Aptera’s loan application.
The advanced-vehicle fund, one of three such programs the Energy Department administered for alternative-energy projects, has $4 billion remaining after giving loan guarantees to companies including Ford Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co. and Tesla Motors Inc.
Chrysler Group LLC has asked for $3.5 billion.
Aptera, which never produced a car, had planned to make a five-passenger sedan priced at less than $30,000 that would run on electric power. Electric cars made by General Motors Co. and Nissan sell for about $41,000 and $33,000 before a $7,500 U.S. tax credit.
Wilbur worked in product planning at Chrysler Corp. and managed the Jeep and Dodge car brands. He led Saleen Performance Vehicles. He also tried unsuccessfully to make ASC, of suburban Detroit, a builder of specialty vehicles.