Remember Aptera, the plucky San Diego firm responsible for the three wheeled Aptera 2e electric car which resembles an airplane but is technically a motorcycle?
After the firm lost out in last year’s Progressive Insurance Automotive X-Prize it went mysteriously silent, save for the occasional newsletter assuring its potential customers that it was working full tilt to get its two-seat ‘car’ to market just as soon as possible.
But in its latest newsletter to customers, Aptera has detailed not its rollout plans, but a surprise manufacturing move away from its San Diego home while its main offices are destined to stay, moving into offices in Carlsbad.
The Oceanside warehouse originally earmarked as the Aptera factory will soon end its lease, leaving Aptera just its corporate headquarters in San Diego.
It all boils down to cost. Speaking to SignonSanDiego.com, Aptera spokesman Marques McCammon put it bluntly, saying, “The economics of the facility we have we don’t think make sense.”
Instead, Aptera said it is now in the process of looking for a manufacturing facility outside of California where it can keep its overheads low and take advantage of the “very generous multi-million-dollar incentive proposals from other states” it claims it has been offered to relocate.
But until Aptera can secure Department of Energy low-interest loans or find alternative funding of equivalent value it will not be building any factories.
Despite a bill passing in 2009 which classified 3-wheeled vehicles like the Aptera - considered motorcycles in most states - as electric cars for the purposes of obtaining DoE funding, Aptera executives are reportedly still in discussions to satisfy other criteria before any DoE funding is granted.
In its latest newsletter, Aptera is its ever-buoyant self. But with every major automaker due to release a plug-in car in the next two years we can’t help but wonder if anyone is still interested in buying a niche electric vehicle with only two seats, limited dealer support and not even a set price-tag.
Are we viewing the death-throws of yet another small-scale electric car firm, or witnessing a rebirthing of a new type of car? Let us know in the Comments below.