• Nov 18th 2009 at 11:50AM
  • 21
If anybody is still wondering whether Aptera, despite the recent commotion, will deliver one of their flightless wonders by Christmas, they can officially cease speculating. They're not, and the release date has now been pushed back to some undefined time in 2010. Hopefully, the delay won't be a full year as it was the last time they announced delivery postponement. According to the company, fund raising efforts didn't keep pace with vehicle development and so they're taking measures to slow the burn, as it were. One of those unfortunate actions involved laying off an unspecified number of employees, though one of them, co-founder Steve Fambro, has said he will resume his role next year. Addressing the situation he said:
Right now my advanced work is a lower priority for Aptera. 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.
Sounds reasonable to us, and it's no doubt reassuring for patiently waiting customers to have official communication from the firm. However, one can't help but wonder why they didn't head this chaotic episode off at the pass by making this announcement in a more timely fashion. The emotional investment of nearly 4,000 reservation-holding fans might be just as important as seeking further financial investment. In any event, the official press release awaits after the break.

[Source: Aptera Motors]



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."

About Aptera
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

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Months Ago
      I assume if they don't get the DOE money that they'll be done by the middle of 2010. This is really unfortunate. I wanted to see the final specs and a road test of the 2e.

      @ ward00, I don't agree with your gloating. The CEO and founders already have their money. The people being hurt in this situation are engineers, designers, secretaries and other people who live paycheck to paycheck like many other hard working people.
      • 8 Months Ago
      There are at least 3 of them flying around the roads - I saw them in Menlo Park, CA last April (search YouTube).
      • 8 Months Ago
      Steve Fambro is the founder, CTO, and public face of the company. I would think that he should be part of the effort to close funding. The one giving the presentations, etc. His "stepping aside" likely has more to do with a managerial disagreement than anything else. This "On Vacation" stuff is clearly spin.

      If there is a real disagreement and he lost, it probably is best for the company for him to get out of the way so they can move forward. Hopefully Steve really will come back once Aptera gets their act together. But that doesn't seem very likely.
      • 8 Months Ago
      I blame the MBAs. I've watched a lot of these companies mostly take a bunch of deposits and then fail over the years - at least Aptera has actually built a couple working prototypes w/ a nice level of finish, that in itself is pretty exceptional the world of 3-wheeler companies. But they've also burned thru a LOT of cash, much more than most, and you can see a lot of it went to a lot of people who's only talent was attending meetings. Several overly-designed versions of the website, a huge vision of modern-art dealerships and just generally a huge focus on branding and typical corporate structure early on in the process, welware for unskilled white people as far as I'm concerned (and some big commissions for artists, too, I'm ok with that, just doesn't lead to finished cars). It's hard to do something different by doing everything the same, expensive, too.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Bawahaha - for all of you that are patiently waiting for this big white whale to ever show its face, I suggest you see how many of your $$$ are left in the bank by asking for you deposit back. From day 1 it was obvious that this motorcycle on three wheels was never going to see the light of day - now it is approximately day 1500. Wake up before you get fleeced of deposit in bankruptcy. Taking time off my ass, what CTO would ever do that? Bawahaha
        • 8 Months Ago
        I'm right about this monstrosity never seeing the light of day. I dare you to put a deposit down! I dare you to watch it go into the founders pockets. All the money they have raised so far and what do you have to show for it. CAD drawings and one working prototype that looks like a white whale. Remember when they started this show touting 300 mpg --- bawahaha - of course you don't you shill. - bawahahaha
        • 8 Months Ago
        Sound like you are enjoying their problems.

        I just find it sad that a unique product is being delayed yet again and calling into question the validity of this California based company.

        • 8 Months Ago
        What are you right about again? That being a start-up in a capital-intensive industry in a credit-weary climate is risky business? or that its a huge whale and since its electric its just like everything everybody said about some other sketchy car company? you sound like a dumb 12 year old.
        • 8 Months Ago
        I've been following this concept and company since the beginning. I whole-heartedly believe that the original founders wanted to bring something new and unique to market, but the Detrot crew they brought on board did not understand that an early launch was crucial to the success of this niche vehicle.

        To say that the whole thing was a scam from day one is false IMO. There was a lot of back-breaking work put into the first prototypes and I feel for the founders mired in this mess.

        Up until two months ago I had a deposit on one of these which was returned promptly. I didn't feel comfortable with the delayed launch dates and the lack of corporate communication.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Ralph, this company never should have been funded - it is and was a scheme to extract money, just as the ZAP electric car and company has done for umpteen years on end. I just hope that this ends sooner than later so the executive mucky mucks don't get any richer from it than they already have. Yes, I enjoy it when I am right!
        • 8 Months Ago
        You realize, ward, that when you're mass-producing something, it's as easy to make 1000 of them as it is to make 1. You just need to get over the hump of capital investment required to make anything at all in the first place.

        I remain cautiously optimistic about the company; hopefully they'll be able to get the DOE loan now that the rules have been revised.

        ...also, your sour grapes cynicism regarding the deposit money has been proven to be demonstrably false, given that Ralph received his money back easily in short order.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Guess I'll just have to buy an enertia instead.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Sad, isn't it?

        To think that Aptera went from a company that was able to go from the Mk0 to the Mk1 in just a couple months, to.... "this".

      • 8 Months Ago
      Look for more companies to fail in the process of building a new electric car market. There are a lot of forces with interests in maintaining the status quo and stand to lose money in the market blossoms into the next "big thing." We have depended on ICEs for over a 100 plus years and many people's welfare are tied directly to the products. These industries won't give up easily...bet on it!

      As far as the car is concerned: I like the space-age design; but, I don't see anything practical about a 200mph body on a 65mph car. My suggestion is to drop the idea of buying one, especially when it sounds like they are in financial trouble and will depend on tax payer money to bail them out.
      • 8 Months Ago
      You know what? This would be a revolution if they even released this baby

      Lets see you make a 300MPG vehicle ***hole.

      If it does and is everything its described as, then it literally is the future.
      • 5 Years Ago
      What people don't realize is that 'Aptera' no longer is 'Aptera'!!! Everyone who conceived of, designed and engineered the car we love has been pushed out the door. They should just go ahead and rebrand the company 'New Saleen' since that's whose in the company now. And why is nobody reporting on the fact that their CFO, Laura Marion, was fined by the SEC for running a scam at Delphi??? Or that they rigged their website yesterday to hide all bad news from their RSS feed??? HMM? I guess thats what it takes to make Aptera update their website!!!
      • 8 Months Ago
      BTW, These photoshop creations are great. Do you do these yourself, Domenick? These always seem to show up in your articles.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Guilty as charged.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Duke Nukem Forever Lives! Go DKF!
      • 8 Months Ago
      Ok, I never paid attention to the Aptera until this story, so then I checked out the website -- it appears that once you unplug a fully-charged Aptera you can go 100 miles before you better be back at home charging-up again. The car is a two-seater pitched to the commuter market. As a practical matter, that means the commute can be no longer than 45 miles each way, leaving a 10-mile cushion. If you need a car that can take you long-distance -- and a gas car is endlessly refillable, due to all the gas stations -- you must have a second car that is gas powered. Thus any buyer will have a second, gas car, which almost certainly could be used for the commuting. And that means the only real energy saving is the cost of gas saved from commuting, set against the cost of the electricity AND the entire purchase price of the Aptera. I'm not seeing any real environmental burden-lightening here.

      What if you have one, and then you decide to move to a place even farther away from the office, outside the 100 mile round-trip range? You won't be able to use the Aptera to commute. How many people are going to say "I'd like to move farther out from the city, but I can't because then I can't commute in my Aptera?" Not many I'd say -- they'll just commute in their gas car and leave the Aptera unused.

      Now, as to the design -- do the front wheels stick out farther than a regular gas car? Hard to tell from the photos. Most show them pretty wide; one, from the rear, shows them no wider out than the tail. Aren't drivers going to get a lot of dinged front wheels? Or maybe snagged -- on a passing car?

      Last comment: the commuter market is mostly office workers. There's a lot of conformity in that world, and the car you drive and put in the office building garage is taken as saying something about you. Fact of life to a big part of the commuter market. Does this car say to the bosses "Promote this guy -- he's/she's a good, solid, prudent, reliable manager" ? Regretfully, I don't think so.

      I personally like the design, and I'm not a commuter, I work solo. I would be delighted if this would work. But I just don't think this will. And I bet that is why the fundraising is so slow -- because the investor community thinks so too.
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