• Jan 7th 2009 at 7:47AM
  • 22
Click above for a high-res gallery of the Aptera 2e

As expectant Aptera buyers are obviously aware, the company failed to meet its self-imposed end of 2008 deadline to start delivering vehicles. In fact it wasn't even close. The company does expect to have a "production-intent" vehicle completed by the end of next week but that one isn't leaving the company. In a letter sent to customers this week, management acknowledged that they waited until far too late in the program to actually give consideration to many of the things paying customers might want in a vehicle; the ability to grab some food from a drive-through window, for example.

Between the real-world compromises and the switch from rear to front wheel drive, management has acknowledged the delays along with the current economic environment. For the next several months, they say, a small number of vehicles will be built for internal testing. Volume production for retail deliveries is now scheduled for October 1, 2009. The company is also asking people who have paid the $500 refundable deposit to voluntarily convert it to a non-refundable deposit. This will let the company better gauge true demand for the vehicle and also give them access to the deposit cash which has been held in escrow until now. People who choose the lock-in option will get an extra $250 off the final retail price when they take delivery. The full letter from the company is after the jump.

Update: Aptera will not be accessing this money, it will remain in escrow.

[Source: Aptera]

Aptera email:

Dear Aptera Family Member,

By now you are likely aware that there are changes happening daily at Aptera. As one of our most loyal supporters and part of the early foundation of our future, we want to update you about some vital issues, including when your vehicle will be available.

Our most recent corporate commitment was that we would deliver the first production Typ-1, now known as the 2e, by the close of 2008. Despite our well-intentioned efforts, we were unable to complete that vehicle before the close of the year, so it's now slated for January 16. However, unlike prior plans, this vehicle will not be delivered to a retail customer. We will continue our builds but at a much slower rate starting with a small test fleet of the enhanced vehicles, then moving to our volume production launch on October 1, 2009.

For months we have been receiving important feedback from you, our depositor community, and we have come to realize there were flaws in our initial product assumptions -- specifically as it pertains to satisfying the needs of real-world consumers. Our greatest degree of learning came just a few months ago when we asked all of you to participate in a brief survey. This critical piece of research requested insights about your expectations for our company and our products, and we discovered a notable disconnect between our product plan and realistic expectations. Some modifications had to be made. For example, you helped us realize that some trade-offs for convenience (like being able to grab a burger in a drive-thru) might be necessary to make the ownership experience more palatable, even if it cost us a couple tenths of a point on our drag coefficient.

To navigate us through this process, we recruited a team of seasoned professionals from the automotive industry and the California tech sector. With a complete management team operating on one accord, we are now in a better position to resolve all of the fundamental product usage questions that have been brought to our attention by our initial depositors.

As we move closer to volume production in the face of this challenged economy, it becomes increasingly important for us to accurately forecast our first year's production volume. To date, we have tried to provide the greatest flexibility possible by maintaining all deposits as fully refundable, and now it has become equally important for Aptera to properly model our operations to meet demand. To address this issue, we have created a proposition, known as "Lock-in," to reward your commitment to this point and in the future. Lock-in allows you to voluntarily convert your deposit from refundable to a firm, non-refundable one and receive an addition $250 credit towards the purchase of your Aptera vehicle. In other words, we will give you an additional 50% return on your money for sticking with us and taking the extra step.

The Lock-in program is completely voluntary and no depositor will be penalized for electing not to participate, but only those who opt into the program will be eligible for the additional credit. As always, your deposit money will remain in escrow until you move to transact the purchase of your vehicle, which is when any and all credits will be applied. Aptera is not, and has no intention of using your deposit money to fund the company. We are prudently trying to plan our volume and capacity to assure we do not introduce waste into our system that could lead us down the unenviable path of some of our industry predecessors. And who knows, maybe Wall Street will see us as a role model for offering these types of returns on investments.

To participate in the Lock-in program, email family@aptera.com with your full name, reservation number and the simple message, "I would like to Lock-in". You will receive a confirmation email, and your name and reservation will be added to the credit list. It is that simple.

Our combination of automotive industry experience paired with the pervasive "why-not" attitude of the California entrepreneurial set will continue to make Aptera more effective in every aspect of our business. Our new team is teaching us fresh ways to listen to you and translate your comments and needs into the product, so here's our pledge: "We will manufacture the most efficient vehicle on the road and continue to apply the input we receive from our consumer." As we fly in the face of this challenged economy and write a new page in transportation history, we simply can't afford to cut corners. We are going to do what it takes to get it right, and we cannot get there without your help and continued support. You have stood with us faithfully and we promise that our vehicles will be worth the wait.

We look forward to sharing our dream with you as Aptera introduces the world to the most energy efficient solution for personal mobility.

Thank you for your support,

The Aptera Team

Aptera Motors 2008

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      This is a really cool toy for the wealthy, but I certainly would be skeptical of sending them any money.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Nonrefundable means that you are making a down payment and NOT a deposit.

      Aptera wants to show their backers BUYERS instead of "tire kickers".

      Yes, I too was wondering about that "fixed window" vs toll collector/drive through problem.

      I wonder what the redesign will look like and what other "modifications" Aptera had to make for their vehicle to be more "driver friendly" and how those "modifications" will affect the final retail sales price and delivery timeframe.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Sitting in my backyard rotting away is my 3-wheel HMV Freeway, 1981: 80mpg at highway speed. Biggest problem was that on highways with humped lane-centers (from deformation over time), the car would drift off the centerline. It then became an unstable bicycle-like vehicle, very difficult to compensate and quite dangerous. I suspect this is in part the rationale for front-wheel drive- to stabilize the handling under adverse road conditions at speed. I don't recall any problems with traction of the rear-wheel drive- it probably is advantageous to have all the weight over the drive-wheel. These vehicles are sufficiently light-weight that most people could push them out of a traction-jam; unfortunately not a traffic jam. Sometimes they cause the traffic jam.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I want one of these Apteras so badly.

      It's the only "car" I know of that reminds me that we're almost in the year 2010.

      I grew up back in the Sixties. I was just under 11 when we first landed on the Moon. "2001" promised me that Pan Am would take us to the Moon someday (soon). Jet packs seemed right around the corner ... Syd Mead's movie automotive designs gave me flights of imagination ...

      Now here I am at age 50 and it's like ... what happened?!?

      Do cars these days really look all that different to, say, 25 years ago in 1983/1984? Not to me they don't ... most everything is just an evolutionary crank-turn on designs that have been around for years ... boring!

      I had hopes up back in 1995 when I first saw the Ford GT90. Finally a car that looked like the 21st Century was upon us!

      Of course, it never came outta beta. "Concept Cars" are like the ultimate c*ck-tease. Promise, never deliver.

      I went to the recent LA Auto Show. I expected to see loads of Hybrids or Electric/Fuel Cell cars or promises of "soon come" in that regard. Instead, I saw almost nothing. Boring, overpriced crap.

      I will grant that Dodge had a decent-looking concept car (the EV) based loosely on the Lotus Europa. (Bet it never makes the production line. Even though I've seen spy shots of the "production" model - they're already ruining the looks of the concept model. Call me cynical.)

      I'm rooting for Aptera - but news like this doesn't make me very hopeful.

      • 6 Years Ago
      I would sure hope that someone who is environmentally conscious enough to purchase an aptera would not be concerned with whether or not they can stick their arm out a window for their Big Mac. this car and fast food simply do not go together.
      that said, i realize that other applications of drive through windows include banks and tolls, but you can always just park and go inside, and for tolls you can have electronic payment.
      • 6 Years Ago
      If they really want to gauge buyers interest just have an option of putting the whole amount down on the vehicle.

      Personally, I love the concept, and very glad they are making improvements to the original. Since I live in TX the point, unfortunately, is moot. So much for capitalism...
      • 6 Years Ago
      No way that I'd give a nonrefundable deposit to a company that is struggling with financing. Basically you're risking $500 to get an additional $250 off of a vehicle that may never be built.
        • 6 Years Ago
        According to the press release:

        "As always, your deposit money will remain in escrow until you move to transact the purchase of your vehicle, which is when any and all credits will be applied. Aptera is not, and has no intention of using your deposit money to fund the company."

        According to this statement, your money is not at risk. The article wrongly suggests that the money will be used to fund the company, in direct contradiction to the statement in the press release.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The *total* deposit money is trivial compared to how much they've raised in fundraising rounds, let alone any interest they'd earn on it (if they even actually earn interest, as opposed to the bank handling the escrow). There's $2m deposits, tops, while they've raised something like $25m in fundraising if I'm keeping track properly.
        • 6 Years Ago
        As always, your deposit money will remain in escrow until you move to transact the purchase of your vehicle

        Who wants to bet they are getting the interest off the escrow?
        • 6 Years Ago
        $500 times the number of people waiting is surely peanuts anyway.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The Big Three and the US airline industry are just about done... we can stick a fork in 'em. The time is now for innovative thinking in energy and transportation in this country such as the Aptera.

      Aptera today, tomorrow the flying version of Aptera (without airfoils of course), then we will have arrived into the "Jetson" future that was intimated on television years many ago.

      • 6 Years Ago
      They have big problems with the banks and state regulation and income tax because they change the dealing rules and prices list and associates list each day. If not this car and the eco-fueler and the think would have been on the market in real customer hands in the real streets doing real driving. The politicians govern by banks are suffuring from their past and actual guilty conscience having taxing any human activity since million of years and are dealing only with jesus and rejecting any humans ideas and projects that are not govern directly by secret banking activity. They unplug many sick robots-corpse in the past and they suffocate many sick humans-corpse in the past. All that is because they had argue with jesus in the past but never find any
      energy for their soul whatsoever. So they adopted the attitude of doing the contrary of jesus then after suffering from this, they get back to jesus. Jesus was the ancient leader of this nor dying civilisation.
        • 6 Years Ago
        WOW..I thought I had been drinking heavily for a min when trying to read your post...but after re-reading it I think I get the just of what your saying..I do hope this company meets the deadline and is successful at bringing their product into as many people's hands that want it. I will be very interested in getting one once I can sit in one and drive it around to see how I like it..until then I'm holding off in my $500 down...to all who have put in their deposits I do hope they stick behind this company..from what I have read they seem to be fair and honest in their financial dealings.

        I'm also glad to see ABG retract their statement that inferred Aptera would dip into the deposit funds..that's just irresponsible reporting on their part and all it accomplished is a feeble attempt to tarnish Aptera's reputation.

        I always wonder why it is so many seem to almost gleefully jump on the critical bandwagon against a company like this when they are trying so admirably to produce an automobile in a relatively short time frame given the resources they have vs. the big 3 automakers. Especially on a website such as this one.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Amen, gorr.

        WWJD = What Would Jesus Drive?

        I agree with you, it would be an Aptera.
        • 6 Years Ago
        WHOA! You lost me there.

        How about we just put some studded winter tires on that little 3-wheeler and call it a day? Front wheel drive? It's really not necessary...

        amen... brother!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Hop they can make it through these difficult times, since they have done such a fantastic job to help us change the way we see a car. It is really sad that creative people like them are stuck because of irresponsible financial managers who have put the whole financial system in this mess. Shame on them.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Aptera....RIP...THE DUDES FROM Detroit have already ruined this inovative company.....FWD,,,REAR VIEW MIRRORS....YOU THINK AN 8 TRACK WILL BE AVAILABLE? I HATE TO SAY IT ....BUT WILL NEVER SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY!
        • 6 Years Ago
        Absolutely. When they started bring all the dead weight of former Detroit execs, I thought the end was very near. This was a very interesting company with the original team, it seems to be heading the wrong direction. I'll be happy to eat my words if it succeeds.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Looking at the photos, I can see how that tiny roll down portion in the window can get really annoying really fast. I wonder how many Apter drivers end up slicing their arm off at the local McDonalds before they fix that.

      It's good they switched to FWD, driving the back wheel is a good idea in California, but driving a three wheeler, with the lone rear wheel pulling in the snow is probably a choice between suicide and just staying at home.

      Either way, I just wish they would get on with it. It'll still be years before we get these in other parts of the world, let alone California.
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