Aptera 2e development prototype at company offices in Vista, California

Aptera 2e development prototype at company offices in Vista, California

One of the most remarkable--and most delayed--of the promised new generation of electric cars is the three-wheeled Aptera 2e.

The unusual, highly aerodynamic vehicle was designed by a startup automaker in Southern California. The resin-bodied car was a finalist at last year’s Auto X-Prize competition despite early handling concerns.

Like many startups, Aptera has struggled with management turnover, funding concerns, and an uncertain future for two years now.

The company's application for low-interest loans from the Department of Energy has not been approved (unlike Tesla in June 2009, joined that September by Fisker Automotive).

Aptera 2e

Aptera 2e

The start of Aptera 2e production--originally slated for the end of 2008--has been repeatedly delayed.

Meanwhile, the 2011 Nissan Leaf and 2011 Chevrolet Volt have gone on sale, with the 2012 Ford Focus Electric coming soon.

Those electric cars offer more mainstream alternatives from established manufacturers--albeit with none of the flair of the Aptera, which some liken to "a Cessna cabin on three wheels."

Yesterday, Aptera e-mailed its fans with a new corporate update. According to the e-mail, the company will move its headquarters to Carlsbad from the current Oceanside setting.

The company asserts it will be able to "grow our engineering and office facility to accommodate several hundred new direct and indirect jobs” in the new location.

Aptera 2e production intent vehicle

Aptera 2e production intent vehicle

The mailing goes on to say Aptera will be “staffing engineering, composites product development and design positions as early as the third quarter of this year.” 

For those who have put down deposits on Aptera's electric three-wheeler as much as two years ago, production before the end of 2011 seems highly unlikely if the company is still staffing up during the last months of the year.

Another detail from the corporate update is that actual production facilities, if or when Aptera becomes a production car, will not be in California.

The company writes that it is seeking “one higher-volume facility outside of California"--which is not necessarily a logical place to build cars, Tesla's Model S assembly plant in Fremont notwithstanding.

"In fact," says Aptera, "we have received some very generous multi-million-dollar incentive proposals from other states.”

While the Aptera 2e prototype is so striking in design and engineering that it is displayed at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry in a gallery devoted to future innovations, the ultimate future of the innovative three-wheel car remains up in the air.

Stay tuned.


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