Every new car company (and boy, there seems to be a lot of them these days) inevitably seems to hit some sort of Preston Tucker moment. No, I’m not saying a bunch of feds in the pockets of Detroit are about to come swooping down on the builders of the futuristic three wheelers in an act of vengeance for their cars being too good. But when the headline reads, ” Aptera refunding all deposits for its ultra efficient three-wheeler”, it has to give one pause.
Funny thing is, I have some experience with the Aptera three-wheeler, even if it is only peripheral. When I was living and working in San Francisco, a boss of mine gave me a call to come down and help him drive one of the things (I was working for a tech magazine at the time). Sadly, I missed the call, but Mr. Bossman was suitably impressed by the Aptera.
And no, in case you’re trying to dismiss this as being full on geek love, this guy was a dyed in the wool gearhead of the first order. Total more than one Ducati, still kicks himself over letting that Plymouth Superbird go, so when he said, “You should have driven the thing man, it was quicker than you’d expect, and the handling was really impressive,” I took him at his word.
And ever since, I have been paying attention to Aptera, waiting for them to finally roll out their three-wheeler. But, as the delays mounted, and the debut dates got slipped and slipped and slipped some more, I began to give up hope.
And now come the news that the company is not only refusing to take deposits, but is also taking the proactive step of returning the deposits they already have.
In an e-mail to their followers, Aptera said that it is returning every deposit made for the ultra-aerodynamic, three-wheeled electric vehicle (or planned hybrid version, that’s still kind of iffy) thus far. The e-mail reads, in part:
“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. … [Our credit-card processing 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.”
Uh, huh. So, by saying, ” … maintenance of the account has become problematic for our credit card processor and administratively cumbersome for Aptera,” you mean that it’s an IT/Admin problem that you just don’t want to deal with cause of the hassle? Really? Boy, I’ve heard some whopper sized excuses from IT guys before (and I’m sure main Gearhead Chris will back me up on that), but this is a new one.
Curiously, this comes just after Aptera announced that they got another round of funding, $2.25 million to be exact, and that’s nothing to sneeze at.
So honestly, I’m not sure what to make of this. I just hope they get things turned around and they get the thing rolling out of the factory and on the road. It’s interesting, distinctive looking and, honestly, you have to say we need more transportation options than we currently have.