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Florida-based Avera Motors is beginning to part the veil of secrecy surrounding what the company has been up to for the past few years. The KGB is a downright chatty bunch compared to the start-up automaker, and until now, we've only had one very info-light web site and a handful of rumors to give us an idea of what to expect from Avera. We knew that CEO RJ Scaringe had assembled a team of engineers who had worked on projects like the Ford GT, Dodge Viper and Koenigsegg CCX and that the company was planning to build a new take on the efficient automobile, but beyond that, it was anyone's guess.

Now the company has released a teaser of its first operational prototype – a yet-unnamed, rear-wheel-drive hatch (?) powered by a direct-injection, turbocharged gasoline engine mounted amidships. Scaringe and the rest of the Avera Motors crew are hoping that the vehicle will be able to best every hybrid in the game in terms of fuel economy and driving fun simply by reducing weight as much as possible. We were able to spend a few quick minutes with Scaringe to find out a little more about the vehicle and his company as a whole. Hit the jump to see what we learned.

[Source: Avera Motors]

History hasn't exactly been kind to new comers in the automotive scene, but with his background in automotive engineering from MIT and the benefit of some very good timing, Scaringe believes Avera Motors is in a good position.

"If you look at the auto industry, there have been so few periods of time when it's been possible to really start [an automotive] company," Scaringe said. "Customers are asking for different products that aren't being offered."

Avera MotorsCombine that pent up longing for fuel-efficient vehicles that are both stylish and fun to drive with a market that's flush with suppliers willing to make a deal to move product, and suddenly you've got the bones for the company's prototype. Avera Motors says that its first offering will cost somewhere around $25,000. Scaringe won't go so far as to come out and say exactly who Avera is working with in terms of components to keep costs down, but did say that one of the key principles behind the prototype is lean manufacturing – working at every level to increase value for the customer while decreasing waste.

"You look at the vehicle and the way we build vehicles, and it's a process that we've been using for quite some time," Scaringe said. "What we're doing here is basically rethinking the entire process so that you can dramatically reduce the amount of capital required."

Scaringe says that he and his engineers have redesigned the typical manufacturing facility to suit his company's needs and to keep the initial investment as low as possible. The theory is that doing so will allow Avera to produce a high-quality, low-buck vehicle.

Avera says that the prototype under the sheet will provide drivers with a quick 0-60 time, excellent handling and a five-star crash rating across the board. That aluminum space frame is a big part of that recipe, but Scaringe also says the engineers have examined the entire vehicle system to come up with ways to reduce weight and strip cost. How much will the thing weigh? Avera Motors is keeping that figure as well as the rest of the prototype's specifications to itself for now, though we're promised more information in the near future.

For now, Avera Motors has unveiled a new web site to promote its prototype. The company says that it will unleash a preproduction fleet in 2012 with full-scale production ramping up in early 2013. While it's easy to brush the company off as another element in the vaporsphere, Scaringe's infectious enthusiasm for his project and his decision to headquarter the company in the same community that used to employ a number of workers involved in the space shuttle program seem to hint that we may actually get behind the wheel of one of his company's products in the near future.

Here's hoping.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      Look at the hips on that thing! Hope it's a sexy alternative to the boring high-efficient models out there (Leaf, Volt, etc) and more like the Fisker.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Looks like a Chop Top Toyota Matrix or Scion XA with super wide wheel arches.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "a team of engineers who had worked on projects like the Ford GT, Dodge Viper and Koenigsegg CCX ... to build a new take on the efficient automobile"

      Yeah, sounds like the recruited some people with a lot of experience designing efficient vehicles.

      I keed, I keed. In all honestly, I would love to see a bunch of pure motorheads answer the efficient automobile question. An aluminum framed, mid-engined, RWD, DI turbo charged vehicle sounds pretty nice to me.
      • 4 Years Ago
      27 year old kid with a recent PhD in engineering wants to start a car company.
      Any automotive industry experience? Any management experience? Any work experience?
      No, No, and Little. But, he's lucky; a rich dad that puts up seed money.

      Another silver spoon advantage: His dad's biz Mainstream Engineering is expert at getting government grants and contracts for R&D and obscure projects.

      They're already in line at the DOE and for other Stimulus funds with hat in hand.

      Sounds similar to Fisker:
      rich guy, wants to build rich boy toys, but thinks he deserves taxpayer money to do it.
      If they have a great idea, the private markets would invest.
      That's the way it used to be done in the USA, and it worked well for over 200 years.

      $25K for a limited production car? Sounds like a plan (uncle) Sam.

        • 4 Years Ago
        I strongly agree EV nerd Gene. What do a 27 year old CEO know about real world? Team of young engineers who has not been there and done that, think they could come up with a nice car with only good styling? Don't know what is under that cover.

        Are you sure they are going to DOE? Our Government just gives away money to guys like these, who don't know what they are doing. I hope they are smart enough to CHECK if the guys are qualified enough and see the credibility of their management, before they decide to give away People's money. Anyone with connections in DC can get millions of dollars in Government Grant these days. This is unheard of elsewhere in the world. Even for a bank loan of about $100,000 rest of the world makes sure that they do all kinds of verification. Only in America, things are so messed up!

        I read somewhere that, these guys have already influenced Space Florida and have got few millions. If you have local republican support, they just give away money without veryfying the capabilities. This is insane.

        $25K car with such high efficiency claimed will only have an useless engine and junk interior and probably manual windows and seats. This is not an IT networking idea for young minds to give ideas! It is nice to see new entrepreneurs, but inexpereinced ones with an eye on Government money should just be shot down; no questions.

        We'll see how they can fool DOE and the public in the coming months!

      • 4 Years Ago
      The KGB *was" a chatty bunch. They haven't existed for 19 years. Today, the KGB's successors are the secret police agency FSB and the espionage agency SVR.
        • 4 Years Ago
        That depends on your dialect of English.

        American English tends towards treating an organization as an individual - which is also codified in our laws, treating corporations as citizens.

        British English tends towards treating an organization as a group of people.

        So, in en_US, "the KGB was a chatty bunch" is correct, in en_UK, "the KGB were a chatty bunch" is correct, and vice versa is not correct.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Here's hoping it makes it to production it sounds interesting to say the least. And just by the way the covers are draped it kind looks like a CR-Z?
      • 4 Years Ago
      It's the original Honda Insight with wide fenders, AKA the new Honda CR-Z.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Hey AB, where do you get that it's going to be a turbo gas engine? This article pulled from their site says it's a diesel hybrid:


      Looks and sounds like it will be sweet, it will be awesome to have a vehicle that can prove that hybrids can be sporty as well as fuel efficient. I didn't know that RJ was only 27 either, that's pretty incredible.
        • 4 Years Ago
        After reading that article, "impressive" seems an understatement. I really like the fact that R.J.'s not just talking up a concept to talk it up. He's got actual engineers and an actual background in engineering background, not to mention a background in thermal control and energy-conversion. And to top it off, he's not trying to go after the pie-in-the-sky supercar market. If they can bring it under $25,000, I honestly wouldn't mind plunking down my money on it.

        On a side note, that's a helluva windshield rake. Though I kinda wish it were front-mid mounted and RWD for cargo space in what appears to be a hatch, I understand having the driveshaft absorbs some of the efficiency vs. piloting the rear wheels more directly. Four seats, rear drive and a presumed 80mpg is promising and actually not very far-fetched at all. I wonder what kind of numbers they're looking to produce to bring in under $30,000. 100,000 units? What kind of infrastructure? Existing, partnership, or ground-up? There are many questions to be asked. Here's to hoping they deliver.

      • 4 Years Ago
      I like where their heads are at!!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Very true! All these big manufactures have lost sight. The combination of great fuel efficiency and fun to drive should be the new goal. Add affordability and you've got a real winner. Can't wait to see what this car looks like, especially with a talented roster of designers seeming to be in the mix.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Very short comment, but it perfectly describes my point of view. I've always said that it's easy to produce a $100,000 head-turner. Do the same for $25,000, though, and you've got my attention...plus, probably, the attention of the masses. And mass appeal will be key to the survival of a newcomer.

        Too many boutique automakers whose products you've never seen in the wild. I want to start SEEING the innovation out there.
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