Does it look like an egg, a blade-free helicopter or a sperm on wheels? No matter: the one thing we do know is that the Aptera 2e won't be looking good on your driveway any time soon. The all-electric car - which we first wrote about back in September 2007 - was meant to go into production this year, but Aptera have announced that will actually now take place in 2010. Somewhat ominously, the two co-founders are either stepping aside or taking a "leave of absence" until Aptera can scrape together some more cash.
"[W]e'll begin volume production vehicles once our current series of private funding has closed or when we secure financing through the Department of Energy's Advanced Technology Vehicle loan program, whichever comes first" company statement
When we say "scrape together", we obviously mean "wait for a government hand-out" since Aptera seem to be leaning heavily toward an ATV loan of the sort that Tesla gobbled up. That leaves those 4,000 people who've put down a pre-order deposit for a 2e twiddling their thumbs, basically (though Aptera have said they can whip out their money at any time, if they so wish).
It's a shame, as the 2e certainly manages to be distinctive along with promising a top speed of 90mph and 0-60mph in under 10 seconds. What remains to be seen is whether the US government decides that an oddball monocoque composite bubble on three wheels is ripe for investment, or should be allowed to go off like an egg left at the back of the fridge.
FIRST ALL-ELECTRIC APTERA 2e PUSHED BACK TO 2010
Co-founders Fambro and Anthony step aside from day-to-day operations
VISTA, Calif. (Nov. 18, 2009) — In September 2008, when fledgling vehicle manufacturer Aptera named Paul Wilbur president and CEO, the 27-year Detroit auto executive set forth a series of financial goals and product deadlines. "Aptera's production and delivery will be tied directly to funding," said Wilbur.
During the past 12 months, the company's initial offering – the aerodynamic Aptera 2e, an all-electric, three-wheeled two-seater that gets the equivalent of 200-plus mpg – has evolved from concept to near reality. Companies including Google and IdeaLab have made significant investments in the southern California auto manufacturer, and numerous potential private and public backers are in the process of doing their due diligence. However, according to Wilbur, the vehicle development progress has been outpacing the rate of fundraising.
"We're making significant progress every day with product refinements, the completion of engineering and design details, and securing meaningful strategic partnerships," says Wilbur. "However, we now have to adjust our production schedule to align with financing realities. Properly managing the resources of the company means we'll complete our first vehicles in 2010, not by the end of 2009 as previously projected.
"Aptera management is being a prudent steward of all resources to ensure future viability for the company and strong returns for its stakeholders. Therefore, we'll begin volume production vehicles once our current series of private funding has closed or when we secure financing through the Department of Energy's Advanced Technology Vehicle loan program, whichever comes first."
The aerodynamically-inspired Aptera 2e goes from zero to 60 in under 10 seconds, tops out at 90 mph and has already received nearly 4,000 deposits, which are fully refundable and remain in an escrow account. The production vehicle includes enhanced safety features, a redesigned interior cabin that is airy and user-friendly, a monocoque, structural composite body as well as a telematics and infotainment system.
"I'm as disappointed as any of our depositors and loyal followers around the country that we're delaying initial production," says Wilbur. "There's no one who's more anxious than we are to put the 2e on the road.
"Because of this production delay, we've unfortunately been forced to lay off some hard working employees. It's a strategy to streamline our spending to hone in on the items that advance our fundraising and completion of our first vehicle.
"Additionally as part of this plan, co-founder Chris Anthony is stepping aside from day-to-day activities to concentrate on his two other companies, Epic Boats and Flux Power."
Aptera's other co-founder, Steve Fambro, who started tinkering with the idea of building an aerodynamic vehicle five years ago, is taking a short leave of absence and will re-engage with the company in the new year.
"Right now my advanced work is a lower priority for Aptera," said Fambro, the company's Chief Technical Officer who directs all advanced concept development activities. "We've got to be wholly focused on funding and getting the first 2e on the road.
"Paul's leadership and (chief engineer) Tom Reichenbach's talent have led to changes in the vehicle that are spot-on. They've made the vehicle safer, it's better handling and more comfortable. Once we get through this stage, we'll begin mass producing the 2e – the most aerodynamic and efficient vehicle in the world."
According to Wilbur, "Building and launching a new car company is the challenge of a lifetime – even in the best economic times. At Aptera, this is especially true because we didn't start with an existing architecture for our vehicle. The 2e was designed from scratch, which is why we're focused on properly, and painstakingly, creating a foundation that can succeed over time; it's a chance for everybody working at Aptera to reshape the automotive world for the next generation."
Aptera Motors (www.aptera.com) was founded in 2006 to develop and build the safest, most energy efficient commuter vehicles on the road. Utilizing streamlined aerodynamic design, lightweight composite structures and unique drive systems, Aptera (which means wingless flight) delivers vehicles that are attainable and efficient. The company operates two Southern California facilities in north San Diego County, where it designs, engineers and manufactures the vehicles and their composite systems to create an exceptionally strong, sleek body.