Aptera was developing a futuristic 200 mpge electric car that would knock our socks off. But then the company stopped taking deposits last month, blaming a problem with the escrow account in which they were held. And now, Aptera is refunding deposits to prospective owners hoping to scoop up one of these three-wheeled wonders or the planned 2h hybrid, with a memo explaining that production is taking too long for them to hold on to people’s money. That’s not a good sign. But it gets worse.
In a note mailed August 12th, the “Aptera Team” wrote, “… 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.” The company once again blamed the reservation system, saying their credit card system “… is designed for transactions to be completed in a six-month window. Since most of Aptera’s deposits have been in reserve for more than six months, maintenance of the account has become problematic for our credit card processor and administratively cumbersome for Aptera.” Could be true.
But what’s really concerning us here is how noncommunicative executives are being about the problems at Aptera, something that could signal much worse trouble under the surface. Company chief marketing officer Marques McCammon was vague last month following the decision to stop taking deposits, deflecting questions about Aptera’s financial situation. “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,” he said, referring to Aptera’s application for loans under the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program, which has awarded Tesla and Fisker loans already. Aptera is still waiting to hear about its own loan application, which hinges on the company proving it is a viable concern without the loans. It’s now unclear if that’s possible. Mr. McCammon also said, “We will, however, be making some important announcements in the near future.” We hope against hope that won’t be what we think it is.