Last week we told you that Aptera Motors had temporarily halted its online reservation system for its three-wheeled, two seat, ultra-efficient 2e electric car.
Unusually quiet since its failure to win the Progressive Insurance Automotive X-Prize, we contacted Aptera to check everything was okay and was told by an unnamed employee that an issue with an escrow account was preventing the firm from taking reservations.
At the time we also contacted Marques McCammon, Aptera’s Chief Marketing Officer for an official response to the story. McCammon was unavailable for comment at the time of publishing the previous story, but has just responded to our questions.
In the interests of fair journalism, what follows are the responses McCammon was unavailable to make at the time of the original story.
ACE: Why is the reason for the suspension of reservations?
McCammon: “The entire reservation process is being reevaluated and revamped. The system was created by the bank to provide protection for consumers deposits in a secure account that wasn't accessible by the company. At its core this is great, but the account structure presents some administrative issues for the way we service our customers. For example, the system does not respond well to older transactions. This is problematic because most have our customers have been with us for more than a year.
We are working through the issues as quickly as possible. Unfortunately its taking much longer than we expected"
ACE: How many cars are currently reserved?
McCammon: “Ballpark estimate: 2,500”
ACE: What's the status of production, launch etc?
McCammon: “We are under a strict NDA as a part of our DOE Loan application that limits my ability to comment on that at this time. We will, however, be making some important announcements in the near future.”
ACE: And prices?
“No changes to prices. Our vehicles will range from the high $20 thousands to the mid $40 thousands, depending on how you equip them.”
Sadly, the responses we've been given don't give us any new information about the paused reservations, production schedules or even reservation numbers, but they do tell us a few things.
Firstly, with around 2,500 vehicles currently reserved, Aptera is going to have to work extremely hard to be competitive as a niche car within a niche car market. And if the 2011 Nissan Leaf is anything to go by, not all reservations turn into confirmed orders.
Secondly, with a price nearer $30,000 than $20,000, Aptera will have to produce vehicle with features, performance and specifications to rival cars like the 2012 Nissan Leaf and 2012 Mitsubishi i.
Finally, Aptera is currently facing the biggest challenge any small electric car company has: competing with companies with many more times the funds, resources, experience and marking power. And as we've said before, that's hard for any small electric automaker to do.