Aptera [Electric] Motors Gives CEO The Eberhard Treatment

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
aptera electric motors gives ceo the eberhard treatment

The LA Times blog reports that Aptera Motors, makers of press releases and $500 deposit waiting lists, have hired a new CEO. With its $30k EV still in development, Aptera has tipped to former Ford, Chrysler and Saleen man Paul Wilbur for the top spot. In a move that echoes Martin Eberhard’s ouster from Tesla, Aptera founder Steve Fambro has been pushed down from the CEO job to “chief technology officer.” This hiring of a new executive and exiling the founder to technical pursuits is fast becoming a rite of passage for up-and-coming EV companies. While Eberhart’s downgrade allowed him to “focus on…the advancement of our core technologies,” and Fambro’s demotion is being spun as allowing him “to concentrate on vehicle development,” the trendsetter was actually Phoenix Motors. Way back in 2006, Phoenix bumped its founder Daniel Riegert from CEO to (wait for it) chief technology officer. The LA Times sees a trend here, and unsurprisingly it has to do with money. Eberhart was demoted just as Tesla embarked on a $250m investment round, Riegert left Phoenix when a Dubai-based investor dropped $40m on the company, and Aptera just closed on $24m worth of venture capital. As these companies grow, their new investors do not always see eye to eye with their contrarian founders. Eberhard and Riegert both left their companies entirely after stints as technology gurus, and it would not be surprising to hear of Fambro following suit. Maybe the three former founders could start an EV supergroup?

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4 of 8 comments
  • BigOldChryslers BigOldChryslers on Sep 05, 2008
    That car looks nothing like a bird! But it does look like a wingless, tailless airplane cockpit. When I first saw it I thought it was the Milner ElectriCar, which is their flying car prototype with the wings removed.

  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on Sep 05, 2008

    According to their website, "aptera" is greek for "wingless flight". I suspect the design is inspired by modern light aircraft designs that get low drag and high impact resistance using that egg shape for the fuselage. I would rather we hold our critiques on whether it will work until someone has real data. We don't want to discourage innovation or insult something just for being different. OTOH, the story here is perfectly justified in noting the historical similarities in corporate structure, leadership, finance, PR, etc.

  • on Sep 05, 2008

    Is that a picture of some new ride at Disneyland?

  • Ellen Ellen on Nov 08, 2008

    Companies like Aptera and Tesla are the saving grace of the automobile manufacturing industry in the US. Be thankful someone is doing something different. With Aptera's backlog and failing big 3 car companies, perhaps they are on the right track. Just because something is different from status quo doesn't make it worse.