- Electric vehicle company Aptera is shutting down.
- Employees videotaped themselves smashing prototypes of the car.
Now a series of YouTube videos have surfaced showing people we assume to be Aptera employees willfully destroying Aptera body shells with a forklift truck, presumably so they could not be reused following the company's closure.
In a move reminiscent of the scene in the 2005 remake of Fun with Dick and Jane, the video shows several unidentified workers destroying Aptera body shells.
But the destruction wasn't like the clandestine desert crushing of the EV1 by General Motors shown in the documentary Who Killed The Electric Car? Instead, the shaky cell phone videos are reminiscent of an alcohol-fueled sophomore college prank.
The four videos show the ultra-lightweight composite Aptera shells being destroyed in a variety of ways, including getting dropped from a great height through to being rammed into a wall by a forklift truck.
Throughout the process, those destroying the body shells laugh and joke with one another.
"You just need to replace the whole body, and you're good to go," jokes one voice after watching one shell get smashed into a concrete wall, while another laughs, "No animals were harmed in the making of this movie!"
Another asks, "How much do you think these videos are worth?"
According to various sources, Aptera had been planning on unveiling a four-door, five seat family sedan similar in size to a Toyota Camry, but when the company failed to raise private investment to match a $150 million Department of Energy loan offer it had no choice but to declare bankruptcy.
Even though the videos were posted yesterday, they have already started to create a stir on electric vehicle fan sites.
Steve Fambro, Former Chief Technical Officer and co-founder of Aptera motors, was among those who were aghast at the apparent wanton destruction of perfectly functioning vehicles.
"These were beautiful, fully functioning vehicles," wrote Fambro on the ApteraForum yesterday. "Two of them my small, small team (me, a guy, some interns) created while I was CTO. My gas Aptera 2g and the Series hybrid, ACP pp5 (detuned to 75kW) could drive over 100 mph all day long (as long as there was gas in the tank or quick charge available). In particular, PP5 would push you back in the seat all the way till it reached the RPM limited top speed of about 105-110mph. It was an exceptional EV to drive."
Fambro left the company in 2009 after he tried to regain control of the company in a failed coup attempt, and has been unable to talk much about his experiences at the firm until its bankruptcy last Friday.
We're not sure why the cars were destroyed, but last week, Fambro made a post to the Aptera Forum suggesting that the "idea of Aptera" could be restarted if there was significant interest from the electric car community.
Fambro is visibly upset.
"They were gutted, perhaps damaged in the process, and destroyed," he wrote. "Can't tell if the roll structures were removed either. There is no viable or logical reason for this to have been done, only to prevent the founder from ever seeing their functioning work again."
Even after its closure, the plot of the Aptera story has more than its share of drama and dismay. We sense that perhaps it's not over yet.
UPDATE: Later news reports cite Aptera management claiming that the body shells being disposed were flawed, and were discarded when Aptera vacated its Oceanside facility earlier this year. Management also claims that the employees damaging them were not doing so maliciously, but in an impromptu demonstration of the shells' strength. We've reached out to Aptera and ex-employees, and will report any confirmed information to that effect.