Aptera Staff Smash Prototype Electric Cars As Company Folds

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At the end of last week we broke the news that Aptera, the company responsible for the futuristic three-wheeled electric car known as the Aptera 2e was closing down

Now a series of YouTube videos have surfaced showing people we assume to be Aptera employees wilfully destroying Aptera body shells with a forklift truck, presumably so they could not be reused following the company’s closure. 

In a move reminiscent of the scene in the 2005 remake of Fun with Dick and Jane, the video shows several unidentified workers destroying Aptera body shells.

But the destruction wasn’t like the clandestine desert crushing of the EV1 by General Motors shown in the documentary Who Killed The Electric Car? Instead, the shaky cellphone videos are  reminiscent of an alcohol-fueled sophomore college prank.

The four videos show the ultra-lightweight composite Aptera shells being destroyed in a variety of ways, including getting dropped from a great height through to being rammed into a wall by a forklift truck. 

Throughout the process, those destroying the body shells laugh and joke with one another.

Aptera Body Shell Crushed As Company Folds

Aptera Body Shell Crushed As Company Folds

“You just need to replace the whole body, and you’re good to go,” jokes one voice after watching one shell get smashed into a concrete wall, while another laughs “No animals were harmed in the making of this movie!”

Another asks "How much do you think these videos are worth?"

According to various sources, Aptera had been planning on unveiling a four-door, five seat family sedan similar in size to a Toyota Camry, but when the company failed to raise private investment to match a $150 million Department of Energy loan offer it had no choice but to declare bankruptcy.

Even though the videos were posted yesterday, they have already started to create a stir on electric vehicle fansites

Steve Fambro, Former Chief Technical Officer and co-founder of Aptera motors, was among those who were aghast at the apparent wanton destruction of perfectly functioning vehicles. 

“These were beautiful, fully functioning vehicles,” wrote Fambro on the ApteraForum yesterday. “Two of them my small, small team (me, a guy, some interns) created while I was CTO. My gas Aptera 2g and the Series hybrid, ACP pp5 (detuned to 75kW) could drive over 100 mph all day long (as long as there was gas in the tank or quick charge available). In particular, PP5 would push you back in the seat all the way till it reached the RPM limited top speed of about 105-110mph. It was an exceptional EV to drive.”

Aptera 2e

Aptera 2e

Enlarge Photo

Fambro left the company in 2009 after he tried to regain control of the company in a failed coup attempt, and has been unable to talk much about his experiences at the firm until its bankruptcy last Friday.

We’re not sure why the cars were destroyed, but last week, Fambro made a post to the Aptera Forum suggesting that the “idea of Aptera” could be restarted if there was significant interest from the electric car community.

Fambro is visibly upset.

“They were gutted, perhaps damaged in the process, and destroyed,” he wrote. “Can’t tell if the roll structures were removed either. There is no viable or logical reason for this to have been done, only to prevent the founder from ever seeing their functioning [cars] work again.”

Even after its closure, the plot of the Aptera story has more than its share of drama and dismay. We sense that perhaps it's not over yet. 

UPDATE: Later news reports cite Aptera management claiming that the body shells being disposed were flawed, and were discarded when Aptera vacated its Oceanside facility earlier this year. Management also claims that the employees damaging them were not doing so maliciously, but in an impromptu demonstration of the shells' strength. We've reached out to Aptera and ex-employees, and will report any confirmed information to that effect.


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Comments (25)
  1. I hope that the original founders can get hold of the intellectual property and reproduce these in kit form; they won't take on Ford, GM, et. al. but, I see a great weekend kit project.

  2. Michael, I fear the odds equal to GM releasing EV-1 intellectual property. I don't think under our present paradigm, that's how capitalism works. Hope my fears are groundless and my understanding of capitalism is wrong.

  3. THats what I was thinking. What asses.

  4. That is just plain disturbing. Wow........................what a waste : (

  5. I watched each video and my take is not that they were being destructive for the sake of just being destructive, but it was a group engineers, frustrated that all their hard work was for naught, and they wanted to show the world that these shells were pretty damn strong. Since it was unlikely they would get a full IIHS test to validate their work, the forklift was their next best bet.

  6. Jim: The people doing the destruction were not the ones who built them. Team B was destroying Team A's work. And, FYI, there was a 35mph frontal crash test; the vehicle did just fine.

  7. This is quite sad -- these three chassis are probably what was left of fully functional prototypes: a 2g (gasoline engined), a 2h (serial hybrid) and a sport version of the 2e with a 150kW motor; which was very fast.


  8. Are you talking about the hybrid powered by the lawn mower motor, or the gas car with the engine that ran so rich that you would smell like you had swiming in gasoline just from standing next to it. You really need to stop following what you are told so blindly and do some research for yourself.

  9. It was often suggested in the discussions that followed the demise of Aptera that Paul Wilbur quite deliberately ran the company into the ground, living the high live while burning through the cash ($40 million...)the founders raised for the project, forever tinkering with the design while never actually delivering a product to the people on the waiting list. These disturbing video's seem to underwrite that theory. Clearly the project was taken over by a bunch of imbeciles.

  10. You call the team a bunch of imbeciles, but you seem to ignor the fact that the force of the forkligt pushing the body into the wall is less than 1/3 the force of a normal 30 mph crash. Do the math and look a the fact that the body slit open like a clamshell. Is that the car that you want to drive? They may be imbeciles but I think you have to be equally as stupid to build a vehicle that way.

    The other piece of logic that I am lost on is why you think that they could build a car company for $40million when Telsa spent 3 times that much to put batteries in the back of a lotus and sell it for $120K. I mean come on... really?

  11. Actually the Aptera body seems to hold up quite well in this crash with a very heavy vehicle that could well be quite a bit heavier than the numbers you seem to be making up while you go along as I suspect you did with your date claims of the video's. I mean these things didn't really go on while Aptera was still in business did they? If so "bunch of imbeciles" may actually be the understatement of the year. Anyway, the announced interview with Steve Fambro should shed some light on that.

    $40 million not enough to bring a car to the market you claim (actually more than a 120 million was involved in all I read somewhere), but clearly plenty for a bunch of twats to make merry with until the ship sank beneath their feet according to some...

  12. Brandon: Your average forklift like that weighs about two tonnes. Hitting with followthrough. With nowhere for the force to dissipate (concrete wall, vertical forklift rails). Against a shell with no subframe, doors, windshield, or anything else to soak stress.

    And, FYI, the vertical split was only done for the first few shells.

  13. Meh, that should read "four tonnes". Abnout 8,000 lbs.

  14. Chevron doesn't have $150 million dollars just sitting around that they couldn't kick in? They spent more than that advertising about how green a company they were supposed to be. This is the trouble with capitalism. It eats its young. Still, there is another. We still have Edison2.

  15. Its good to know that no one checks facts before the post a story. This video was taken at the Oceanside facility. That would be the same Oceanside facility that the company left in May of this year. These videos are more than half a year old and show the team demolishing obsolete bodies. No one at the company damaged any company asset following the closing of the company. There are currently 7 different 2e prototypes in the Carlsbad building representing every generation of the vehicle from the very first vehicle ever tested. You should check you facts before posting these stories and stop spreading the fodder of disgruntled ex-empoyees. The closure was hard enough, and every employee exityed with diginity.

  16. @Brandon: Your points of view would seem to indicate that you have a connection with Aptera. Contact us if you'd like to chat: feedback (at) highgearmedia (dot) com.

  17. I believe Brandon is their PR guy- Jeff Green

  18. @Brandon "exityed" ? Really ? A new word to put in the next Websters.

  19. This is so painful to watch. I've been a huge fan of Aptera since the first day I laid eyes on them in Wired (16.01). I really think the company made a huge mistake in going with Paul Wilbur's model. Fambro believed you should release a car as soon as possible, and work on it, refine it, and release newer models. True it's an expensive vehicle but dammit look at the Tesla. They're not even making that anymore. I would have gleefully laid down $30k for the first Aptera. I would drive a Weiner Mobile if it got over 100mpg. So tragic.

  20. Most people don't want the weiner mobile they want a practical EV that will get to to where they want to go with reliablity and style. Weiner mobiles do not sell very well. Tesla Model S is what people want.

  21. just because a video was posted does not mean that it happened recently, if you look at the information on Youtube about the person who posted the video you will see that they joined in 2006, therefore the video could be up to 5 years old, right around the inception of Aptera. BTW it looks like the people are doing some testing on the passenger compartment not industrial vandalism.

  22. I was a deposit holder for over three years. It appears that I'm being screwed out of my deposit. I get no reply to emails or calls to them. Their phones are no longer being answered - straight to voice mail.

  23. Why is an impractical so called futuristic 3 wheel car going to sell. Lets make quality cars that are better then the ICE vehicles that they will replace with real world driving range of 250 to 300 miles and they will sell. Ugly weird looking 3 wheeler wil not and they were foolish to even try to make them. Tesla has the right idea and should sell as many as they can make since The Model S is an attractive practical sport sedan that is as good as any gasoline car sold in that price range. Why by a FUGLY 3 wheel goofy looking car that is just a glorified golf cart when you can have a real sport sedan.

  24. in bankruptcy, all assets belong to the creditors.
    I would hope there is no court violation here.

  25. They should have sold them as kits to start and this would have not happend

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