[Update: The bullet points below the third paragraph have been updated based on feedback from Zaptera USA, Inc.]
So I'm walking around the Beijing Auto Show, admiring various cars and booth babes. I see AMG Mercedes, electric BMWs, concept Renaults, Redbull F1 cars, the Subaru BRZ, etc... I then turn a corner and make my way to the last hall. It is just after 5 pm and many of the booths are starting to close shop and cover the cars. Where is the Lambo SUV? Ferrari? It must be in that last hall. We need to get there quickly.
We turn the corner and start walking to the last hall when something interesting catches my attention. The car looks familiar. In fact, it looks eerily familiar. Like a ghost of a loved one. It looks exactly like one of the now defunct Aptera 2 Series, the demise of which has been widely reported and is a very well known story within the auto community. What the hell? Did this Chinese car company, apparently named Jonway, decide to completely copy the look of the Aptera and call it its own? After all, I had already seen hundreds of styling knockoffs at the Chinese booths the prior 3 hours at the car show.
But as we approached and started speaking to an American working at the booth, amazing happened. The chassis sitting before me is one of the original Aptera chassis that had escaped the wrath of disgruntled employees! That's when I had my 'oh my f**king god' moment yesterday. Here is the story he told:
- Aptera went belly-up.
- Shortly thereafter, Zaptera USA acquired the molds and rights to the composite material.
- Zaptera USA and their Chinese manufacturing partner Zhejiang Jonway Group are now scheduled to start producing the composite chassis in Taizhou, China within the year.
- The chassis will then be exported to the US for final assembly and quality control.
- Manufacturing will start in May of this year, with the first cars being shipped from China to the US by the end of the year.
- Within the next 30 days, online reservation forms will become active and first delivery of the car will be in 2013.
I'm sorry for the terrible language (I apologize Mom) but even just last week I saw more stories about Aptera and their failed three-wheeled composite car. And that's typically where the stories end. And now I'm at the Beijing Auto Show, one of the most media-covered shows this year, being told what I believe to be one of the most important stories of this year. Forget the Lambo SUV. China will now be doing what Aptera and Americans failed to do - build this composite car in an affordable, time efficient manner. As far as I can tell, there hasn't been a lick of media coverage about this. How could that be? Do people no longer care? Do they just not notice?
Forget everything else happening at the Beijing Auto Show - the Aptera 2 Series (under a different name) lives on and will be available for purchase within a year. As I said, holy shit.
Update: For additional information, please contact Rick Deringer of Zaptera USA, Inc. at firstname.lastname@example.org / +1 707-310-2291.
Beijing Auto Show. Beijing, China