On a recent trip to southern California, I had the opportunity to visit the new Aptera headquarters in Carlsbad and discuss the effect the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE had on the development of the 2e, one full year after the completion of the prize.
The new 100k square foot facility in Carlsbad houses the corporate offices and serves as the Aptera engineering and technology center. The facility has ample open space to work on the continued development of the 2e, as well as the 2nd vehicle in the Aptera portfolio, currently in the design phase.
Though the team is busy working on the design and development of both vehicles, the timing of the production launch is still to be determined. The work continues as the company seeks funding to fully equip a facility to house their manufacturing operation. The team has applied to the Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) Loan Program, and is still working with the DOE to complete the process. According to Paul Wilbur, CEO, the loan program “provides the kind of funding necessary for manufacturing facilitization.” It is a very rigorous and diligent process, but one that was aided by the team’s participation in the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE. “The fact that the 2e had been in the X PRIZE and at Argonne National Labs for testing, helped us validate our technical claims in the application,” stated Wilbur.
When asked about the effect of the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE on Aptera as a company and on the vehicle, Tom Reichenbach, VP and Chief Engineer, and driver of the 2e throughout the competition was quick to state that “it was worth the trip.” Reichenbach believes that the “engagement and discipline required to be in a competition like the X PRIZE is fundamental to the growth of a company.” Paul Wilbur remarked that Aptera “walked in with twenty-five engineers, each independently thinking about how the vehicle should perform, but quickly became aligned with a single purpose and were galvanized to trust and accept Tom as their leader.” Wilbur believes that “competition is healthy for start-up businesses.” The Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE has helped Aptera create a sense of “team” that has made them “ready to take on any challenge.”