• Nov 16th 2009 at 11:03AM
  • 42
Aptera 2e final design rendering - Click above to enlarge

While Aptera has yet to respond to our request for a comment about about the reported turmoil there, Darryl Siry has apparently been able to talk to some people close to the situation. Reporting in Wired, Siry confirms that founders Steve Fambro and Chris Anthony are out, along with a number of other staffers.

In many respects, what is happening at Aptera parallels the situation at Tesla in late 2007 when an idealistic founder butted up against the realities of actually delivering a product to paying customers. When auto industry veterans like Paul Wilbur were brought in to help bring the 2e to fruition, they realized that the constraints put on the vehicle by the original designers would make it much more difficult to sell beyond the cadre of early adopters. The design changes that were pushed through delayed production by over a year and, with it, any revenues from sales.

At the same time all of this was happening, the ability to raise further cash from the capital markets had evaporated and, while new legislation passed last month makes companies like Aptera eligible for ATVM loans, that money has yet to be approved or disbursed. As we all know by now, regardless of what the energy source is, the auto industry runs on cubic miles of cash.


[Source: Wired]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 42 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      This 'necessary changes' stuff is such total bullsh*t. They had 4000 pre-orders! Make 4000 of the existing variant, and sell them! 4000 units in the field means revenues, extended use customer feedback, visibility.... who the hell cares that the windows don't wind down??? Because the early adopters sure as hell won't, they know what they're buying and I doubt windy windows are on their list of key purchase criteria.
      The modifications can be made in the second release, and Paul Wilbur can have all the windy windows he wants, as can the mass market. In the meantime a revolutionary vehicle could have made it to production.

      Instead, it's being delayed by certain individuals who would rather spend the companies existing capital on their own salaries than risk it trying to meet the companies actual goals.

      The only possible justification for delaying the release is if the car was flat out unsafe. Frankly I think Wilbur is either incompetent or completely self interested and is killing (or has killed) the company.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yeah, sell 4000 cars at the price point of Ferrari and you have a viable business. Sell 4000 at the price point of an Accord and you...are headed for bankruptcy.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Regardless of all the turmoil, I'd love to see this car on the road. It represents a lot of forward thinking and I believe it would be a step in the right direction for personal transportation. Let's get this thing done and out the door people!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Just a minor point. I work at a parts department at a car dealership and I always hear that automakers are "required" to make parts for ten years. Well, I can't tell you how many times I've had cars that are less than ten years old that have had parts discontinued. Not just trim, either, but wiring harnesses, electronic modules, etc. Obviously, you have to make parts for a while after production ends, but I've never seen any proof of this mythological "ten year law" that people are always talking about.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I don't think it is law. But it IS part of every manufacturers business plan to support the customer for 5 years or more.

        And I think since automobile insurance costs factor in the price and availability of replacement parts.

        What would happen to the company if 4,000 folks got Apteras but couldn't drive them on public roads because the insurance wouldn't cover them unless the car was paid in full. The finance/lease company wouldn't pay for it unless you got collision coverage. And you couldn't get collision coverage without some type of repair process. Unless they are forced to "total" the car for every minor accident. Good luck paying that premium.

        It makes more sense to just not build them at all. Luckily, they haven't yet so the money isn't wasted. You guys are talking about them wasting A LOT of money and potentially bankrupting the company just to satisfy the small fanboy group who paid a whopping $500!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Playing the Devil's Advocate:

      "People who paid $500 aren't going to convert to buyers at any appreciable rate." -LS2LS7

      Exactly, $500 is not a down payment by any means. Even if it were not refundable (which it is up until production), it is not a considerable amount enough to think that many wouldn't walk away from it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Oh, and I'm not sure where people get the idea that there's some regulation that automakers have to provide parts for ten years; Ford, for one, is utterly notorious about discontinuing parts after five, six, seven years.

      Obviously there's contractual commitments (the need to service the product through the warranty period) and what's reasonable and customary in the marketplace, and there's emissions-warranty requirements for specific components, but that's all I can think of.
      • 5 Years Ago
      looksweirdlooksweirdlooksweirdlooksweird

      "Yeah, but--"

      looksweirdlooksweirdlooksweirdlooksweird!

      "Well, sure, but it's--"

      looksweird!looksweird!LOOKSWEIRDLOOKSWEIRD!!! LOOKS!!!!! WEIRD!!!!!!!!

      "Okay, whatever. You're right. It looks weird. You win. Screw innovation."
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's a pity that this kind of drama is seemingly inevitable for green motoring startups.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hello,

      I wonder if an open source super efficient vehicle would be a better way to go? I've been advocating this sort of thing for a while now, and here's a little blurb from my blog: http://neilblanchard.vox.com/library...formation.html The idea is already out there -- they just mentioned it on the 'On Point' radio show about the renewed energy of inventors and tinkerers.

      http://www.onpointradio.org/2009/11/...and-innovation

      The idea is the most important thing, and spreading it around means that you get the input of everyone who uses the information.

      Sincerely, Neil
      • 5 Years Ago
      " When auto industry veterans like Paul Wilbur were brought in to help bring the 2e to fruition, they realized that the constraints put on the vehicle by the original designers would make it much more difficult to sell beyond the cadre of early adopters."

      What constraints? As near as I can tell, the original designers were going to offer a vehicle that had everything the 4000+ early adopters wanted. That's cash flow.
      It seems Wilbur and the Detroit crowd have wasted a year to add Big Gulp cup holders and fully-roll down windows (as opposed to a split window) and increasing drag and vehicle weight.
      Seems like Wilbur & co have thrown the founders AND 4000 early adopters into one ditch while driving Aptera into another.
        • 5 Years Ago
        well put. I also object to the wording 'they realized'. instead it should be 'some erroneously concluded'. I also object to the articles premise that the autoindustry must be expensive. In the case of Tesla, Musk made it expensive when Eberhard wanted to keep it simple. it turned out Musk should have listened to Eberhard. same here, douche man Wilbur insists on spending huge money at great delays only to fuck it up completely, a vehicle people would have loved as it were. so you have to open the door a bit at mickiD and toll booths. big deal. it's a good excuse for when the coppers pull you over : ) sure you'll get shot when you open the door but that's part of the experience :) either way it is certainly not worth 24$m, a year's delay, loss of a year's sales, production experience and good will and possibly destroying the company in the process. when it could have been introduced as second gen if it was a must. people liked the vehicle for its extreme nature, not for how it could be made to look and operate like cars of the past.
        satan keeps obama too busy to follow the details but if I were Obama I'd tell Aptera to go fuck themselves until Wilbur is hung from a yard arm and Fambro reinstated. unless what actually happened is not what it appears to be.
        It turned out that Eberhard was right and Musk wrong and I think it will turn out that Fambro was right too but in this case Wilbur doesn't have 2bn dollars of his own money with which to smooth over his whopper mistakes.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I can't tell which is more unlikely, me getting my hands on an Aptera or me getting my hands on a Volvo V50 DrivE in Pennsylvania.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Still playing the Devil's Advocate here:

      "Make 4000 of the existing variant, and sell them!" - T-rex
      "sell it to them*, and then make the *next* generation more mainstream." -meme
      "much more difficult to sell beyond the cadre of early adopters" -Sam A

      Lets try to think like your running a Auto Manufacturing business here...

      Will the Aptera be handmade or assembly line made?
      If hand made, it will take WAY too long to satisfy the 4,000 orders.
      The Aptera needs to be in full production to become a REAL business.

      To produce even 4,000 units, a factory assemby line will need to be built and fully tooled SPECIFICALLY FOR THAT MODEL. So they if the invest all of their money in this assembly process, build the 4,000 units, sell the 4,000 unit, then what? The demand goes down because it didn't satisfy a large enough market share. Fewer and fewer orders come in during then next few months after initial release. Then what? Scrap the assembly line tools that only produced 5,000 units. Purchase more equipment to build the next generation? What a waste.

      So they require much more than promises of a few thousand early adopters to warrant the investment.

      This is why it is difficult to be an Automaker start-up. It isn't silicon valley making software guys! You can't just patch the previous version. This is real hardware that cannot be tweaked to produce a upgraded product. It requires millions and is not very flexible.
      • 5 Years Ago
      People who paid $500 aren't going to convert to buyers at any appreciable rate. They put that down mostly sight unseen. And when you see and drive the car, you often change your mind, even with a car where you largely know what you are getting. And this isn't one of those.

      Heck they'd lose half the people just because the buyers don't have any way to charge it at home and no way to install it either.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Where did I say it's ugly?"

        In every other thread on the subject. What, you think we have no memory?

        "The key is it's not a practical car. If you haven't seen it in person you wouldn't necessarily know this."

        I have. I fell in love with it all over again when I got to see it in person.

        "And this is before the issue of people who want to own an EV but cannot because they cannot charge it at home because they can't get 220V to their carport/parking spot/apartment garage. This really put a hurt on the EV1, why do you think it won't hurt Aptera?"

        Aptera charges 100 miles range at 75mph in 8 hours on 120V. One of the advantages of being so efficient.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The people who've gotten to see and ride in this car have turned into its biggest supporters.

        Look, we get it. You're among the 50% who think it's ugly. We get it. You can leave now.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Where did I say it's ugly?

        The key is it's not a practical car. If you haven't seen it in person you wouldn't necessarily know this.

        And this is before the issue of people who want to own an EV but cannot because they cannot charge it at home because they can't get 220V to their carport/parking spot/apartment garage. This really put a hurt on the EV1, why do you think it won't hurt Aptera?
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