The Aptera newsletters continue to talk about the good while staying silent about the bad. The latest example (available after the jump) mentions an update to the Department of Energy's Advanced Vehicle Technology Manufacturing Program loan request, how the vehicle will indeed be made with composites (with partner Energetx) and a bit of confidence building opportunity thanks to participating in the Auto X Prize ("they will tell you if we are 'full of it' or not"). What's not mentioned? Any discussion about the recent personnel problems.

Oh well. At least we learn that the company is might soon be closing in on a new production facility as a result of a new application to the DOE's AVTMP. The loan application asks for a 10-year facility plan, which meant Aptera needed to actually come up with such a plan. Aptera's production schedule "calls for more than 10,000 units in the first 3 years and more than 300 employees," so it is looking for a new place to build the cars somewhere in Southern California, specifically somewhere in San Diego County. If everything goes right, of course. Thanks to Richard H. for the tip!

[Source: Aptera]


Happy New Year!!!

Aptera News
A line into the present and future at Aptera Motors, Inc. Dec, 2009 - Vol 1, Issue 2
In This Issue
Aptera IS composite
You heard it here - facilities
Partner on composites
Join Our Mailing List!
Quick Links
Many of you have written us to inquire why we elected to restartproto body side mold the counter on the Newsletter asking the question, "Just what is the "New Constant Contact Newsletter?" The answer is that we have moved to a hosted newsletter service (Constant Contact). This is a change from our prior format that was designed and generated within our team. As you may have noticed, the new format has a much different graphical composition from the prior format. As such we elected to reset the count to show a clean break from the prior format to the new. We hope this clears the air.
Aptera IS composite

From the feedback we received from the last newsletter, we realized we needed to clarify that the developments in the Aptera body system have not moved us from our founding strategy of composite bodies, and we have no intention to do so. The body is still composite, but the composition of those composites has changed, along with the construction of the basic body structure. This work was the result of the efforts of Mr. David Oakley and his team. Mr. Oakley is a degreed Chemical Engineer and a subject matter expert in manufacturing operations with more than 20 years of experience in his field (including being the head of research and development for composites at Calloway Golf). The commentary offered on composites work in the prior newsletter was based on the test results and expert observations of the composites team, which was composed of automotive body engineering, fabrication, an experienced systems engineering, including a six sigma black belt (certified process quality expert). Sorry if we unclear.

-Marques McCammon
You heard it here first

Don't be surprised if you open up a paper to find that Aptera is looking for, or even closing on, a new facility. No, we haven't fallen and bumped our head. Not recently anyway.

As you all know, we applied for support from the Department of Energy's Advanced Vehicle Technology Manufacturing loan program back in December of 2008. At that time, our application was rejected due to the fact that our 2-series vehicles only have 3 wheels. Since then, the President has signed into law a bill (in October of 2009) that modifies the language and allows vehicles, like the 2e, to compete for funding. Within the month of January, our new application will be filed and we will be in the queue for consideration.

As a part of this loan process, we were asked to detail our facilities plans for the next 10 years. As you can imagine, this forced the team to start thinking in much greater detail about how our short term plans translated to our long term needs. We had to think through what Aptera needs tomorrow as a start up, and in the future, as a sustaining automobile manufacturer with annual production volumes numbering in the 10s of thousands of units per year. (Now that's an exciting thought!!!) . At those levels of production, one thing is clearly apparent; our current facilities are woefully inadequate. Now this is not exactly what you would call a revelation. Our current facility has only 4 dock doors and parking for less than 100 people. Considering that our plan calls for more than 10,000 units in the first 3 years and more than 300 employees, this is clearly a temporary solution and we knew that from the start, but the planning required for the loan application makes this fact more glaringly obvious. So the bottom line is Aptera is looking for a new production facility.

This new facility will be the replacement for our Southern California facility. Before you ask, yes the replacement facility will still be in Southern California, and yes it will still be in San Diego County. There are a lot of good reasons for San Diego, but our personal favorite is because we really, really (really, really, really) like it here. So San Diego County is and will continue to be home to our corporate headquarters. At some point in time we will have another facility that is dedicated to manufacturing, but that is fodder for another day. For now you have a sense for where we are going.

We have a partner in composites

S0 frontWhen Aptera first set off in the development of our manufacturing plan, we were under the impression that we would do all of the body manufacturing in-house. In fact, when we moved out of our old Loker Avenue facility in Carlsbad and into our Vista plant, we re-purposed Loker into a composite body facility. It was a good interim plan. The challenge was that in order to capitalize the facility to a capacity where we could even satisfy the pre-ordered vehicles it would have cost the company several millon dollars in invested capital. Additionally, there were the expenses associated with recruiting and training a manufacturing employee base to understand the nuances of building a composite body with quality. Then there were the space constraints in the facility that would limit our capacity to such a level that it would take several years just to build out the depositor list (for example - Loker only has one loading/unloading dock). The bottom line is we all new something had to change.

A stroke of good fortune came in March of 2009 during our first visit to Washington DC. On that trip Aptera executives were introduced to entrepreneur and businessman David Slikkers, president an CEO of Energetx composites. The introduction came by way of one of the many members of Congress that we met during the visit.

Energetx is the surname given to the company that was formerly known as Tiara Boats (a small to midsized premium yacht manufacturer). I say formerly because as yachting is a leisure activity, much of Tiara's core business had been adversely impacted by the recent economic changes. Seeing those changes on the horizon, the leadership at Tiara had repurposed parts of their business to focus on other technology sectors that could benefit from their nearly 50 years of manufacturing and composites experience. In particular they have focused their business on various sectors of clean tech. This new focus is what created Energetx Composites.

As Energetx, Slikkers' company has earned contracts with wind and solar power providers, commercial transportation and U.S. government contractors. All of these new technology clients, along with the company's proven quality production systems helped to develop Energetx quality and system controls to levels that were unmatched in many of the other companies that the Aptera team had reviewed (and we review a lot of companies). The end result was an engagement, between Aptera and Energetx Composites. As an entreprenial, high tech, composite manufacturer with proprietary manufacturing and process technologies, we thing Energetx is ideal to work with Aptera.

Energetx was an interesting find. As a family owned business (presently with about 300 employees),S0 front Energetx makes use of more than 50 years of manufacturing experience and technology, and reapplies it to a wide variety of other high tech, business sectors. The company has a strong dedication to quality and continuous product and process development. Consequently, Energetx has committed millions of dollars to outfitting their nearly 1 million square foot facility with most of the systems and equipment necessary to manufacture products, like the Aptera body, in high quality, high volume, and at low cost. These were the very same systems that we would have had to purchase and develop from scratch. Instead, we will make use of the talent and experience of their team, as well as the tremendous capital investments they have already made. That is, with a little bit of our secret sauce sprinkled in for good measure, of course.

Interestingly, the team at Energetx has never supplied to an automotive company before, but what we like is that it hasn't intimidated them one bit. In fact, it seems to inspire them. That, in turn, shows us that they have an entrepreneurial vision that is not unlike the one that founded Aptera. They believe they can do it. And, at this point, it is pretty safe to say that we agree with them. So, you guessed it, Energetx Composites is supplying the production bodies, beginning with the 2e.

As a part of the agreement, we share our proprietary composite construction system with Energetx and they return to us completed Aptera bodies. Their first test is underway now as Energetx works to deliver our first production intent body in just a few short weeks. This new body will feature all of the structural and dimensional changes that we have told you about, and will marking the official beginning of our process development cycle.

Xprize - The race for humanity

PP4 at the XprizeAs many of you may know, Aptera is among the nearly 50 teams now in contention for the Progressive Automotive Xprize. The Prize is a competition put on by the Xprize Foundation to inspire innovation in the automotive sector. In particular, the prize looks to grant a monetary award to the team that can deliver a commercially viable vehicle (which means that it must be able to be produced in high volume, meet government requirements and demonstrate market demand) that is capable of delivering at least 100 miles per gallon equivalent.

From our perspective, the Xprize offers our team and our company the opportunity to demonstrate to the world that our claims of radical efficiency and dynamic range are indeed real, and to do so with a third party endorsement. The judging team for the Progressive Automotive Xprize is comprised of subject matter experts from the automotive industry, America's leading national labs, and the Department of Energy, to name a few. This group of accomplished professionals is charged with providing documented evidence of (or refuting) every claim from every team included in the competition. In other words, they will tell you if we are "full of it" or not. At Aptera, we think this is a perfect way of proving the values of lightweight and extreme aerodynamics to the whole of the auto industry.

The competition officially started back in November (2009) just prior to the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show in Las Vegas. So far, the competition has been a technical evaluation where the judges test the validity of our designs. The real competition starts in April, and we are planning to go for it. Now I know what you are thinking...'Sounds like a distraction'....right? Well to be honest, initially we thought the same thing. That is, until we saw the details of the competition.

The team at the Xprize has crafted the competition to emulate the test and development schedule of a typical production vehicle build. Tests for key elements like high speed maneuvering, safety system integrity, braking, cornering, and much more, have all been included in the competition outline. For Aptera, these are all test that we conduct on our own vehicles. So when the team looked at it objectively, we found that we could test our vehicles, get a fresh eye's view of our technology, and compete in the competition all in one fell swoop. It is a win-win-win. So like I said, we are going for it. And there may even be a way for you to get involved....Stay tuned!

The Marketing Team
Aptera Motors Inc.

Share This Photo X