Lost in translation — that’s what aerodynamic car developer Aptera Motors says happened to CEO Paul Wilbur’s message in China this week. According to the latest newsletter from the company, which aims to build three-wheeled hybrid and electric vehicles but has run into financing troubles, Aptera is now on the hunt for partners to help it build vehicles in China for the Chinese market. But contrary to some reports based on an Automotive News China interview with Wilbur, Aptera says this morning it has no designs on shipping China-built vehicles to the North American market.
Aptera says it plans to build vehicles for the U.S. market at two facilities here in the States. Carrying out that plan, however — let alone the scheme for international expansion (despite Aptera’s claim that “It would be pretty easy to start production in China,” since most of its suppliers have operations there) — will likely hinge on the company’s ability to raise new funds.
Wilbur has explained in recent months that “production and delivery will be tied directly to funding.” According to a November 2009 release, development efforts at the startup have “been outpacing the rate of fundraising,” and dwindling cash reserves forced the company to delay production of the 2e (previously slated for the end of 2009) until 2010 .
Like many green car developers these days, Aptera has its eye on a low-interest direct loan from the Department of Energy to help it get manufacturing up and running. But as startup V-Vehicle demonstrated last week (the DOE rejected its loan bid, reportedly due to concerns about its financial viability), it doesn’t hurt to have a backup plan — especially for a startup that might struggle with requirements to prove financial viability for the term of the loan.
Photo courtesy of Aptera
Related research on GigaOM Pro (subscription required):