The plug may have been pulled on would-be electric vehicle manufacturer Aptera, as new reports allege the company will refund all deposits placed on its unorthodox three-wheeled 2e electric car. In 2009, we reported that the company had taken 4000 deposits for its radical EV, with production scheduled for early October 2010. Now, it seems production of the company’s plane-like 2e will remain grounded for some time.
GreenCarReports says that Aptera began refusing new deposits for the hyper-efficient vehicle last month, reporting that the company had issues with the escrow account that held the deposits. In an email sent out to depositors last night, Aptera said: “…as you know, our path to production has been longer than anticipated, which has complicated our reservation administration to the point that we have decided to return your deposit.”
Aptera explains its reasons in the email, stating the problem lies with the credit card processing system, which was designed around the condition that transactions be finalized within a six-month window. Aptera says that since the deposits have been sitting for more than six months, maintenance of the system and account has been difficult.
The upstart automaker doesn’t give a timeframe for resolving the issue, but instead delivers an open-ended and slightly ambiguous promise to customers that their contact info will be moved to an email database that will keep them up to date on company activity and, eventually, direct them to a local retailer when Aptera vehicles become available for purchase.
This email is yet another indication of Aptera’s slowed momentum, as GreenCarReports says the company last stated a year and a half ago that it hoped to build 10,000 2e models per year. Last September, the Automotive X-Prize slipped through Aptera’s fingers, with the company losing out in the finals to the equally radical Edison2 VLC (Very Light Car).
Winning that competition’s $5-million grand prize might have helped show the Department of Energy (DOE) that the company was ready for the EV big leagues, as the application process for receiving low-interest loans from DOE –similar to those granted to automakers Tesla and Fisker – requires companies to prove they could survive without such loans.
Aptera Chief Marketing Officer Marques McCammon was particularly tight-lipped about the company’s finances and plans for the future last month, when he said in a press conference, “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.” While it’s not clear whether or not Aptera’s DOE loan was approved, a lack of progress on the production front is never a good sign.