Auto News

AutoGuide News Blog

The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
 |  Dec 13 2011, 8:15 PM

Last week we brought you a story about Aperta employees boorishly smashing the remaining shells of their 2e electric vehicle, including quotes from their disgruntled former CEO, Steve Fambro. You may wonder how things went so wrong.

If you haven’t been following the Aptera saga, or if you don’t know what Aptera is, this is a good time to jump in.

Rewind to 2006 where founders Steve Fambro and Chris Anthony found a company called Aptera with the intent to build and sell super-efficient electric vehicles. They planned to take advantage of a program offered by the Department of Energy by which companies could take over abandoned factories and enjoy low-interest loans if they made vehicles 25 percent more efficient than those they would replace.

Aptera had a funky three-wheeled car in mind that looked a lot like a tear drop made out of plastic composite. In September of 2008 Fambro found himself on the outside of the company, replaced as CEO by Paul Wilbur.

By December, Aptera’s application for money from the DoE had been submitted and promptly rejected— three-wheeled cars apparently didn’t qualify.

Over the next two years Tesla and Fisker both recieve hundreds of millions of dollars in DoE funding, and three wheel cars are provisioned for subsidy by the DoE.

In 2010 Aptera re-applies and was denied funding again, this time becuause the DoE says they cannot pay back capital costs for the company.

Shortly afterwards, the company re-allocated their remaining resources to developing a four-wheeled sedan that had a better chance of catching on.

At this point the DoE committed $150 million in loans on the condition that the company also secure $80 million in private funding. That proved to be too much. Aptera simply couldn’t find investors to pour money into their company after another operation failed to get funding because of their similar plastic composite bodies.

By early December of this year the company had run out of cash and needed to shut down. They decided to execute the close early enough to distribute remaining cash reserves among their employees as severance.

In an interview with Green Car Reports, Wilbur admitted that they spent too much time chasing DoE finding and that a better path would have been to look for private money from the beginning. The DoE, he said, took far too long to yield any money for Aptera to stay afloat.

[Source: Green Car Reports]

 |  Jun 27 2011, 10:40 AM

Saab‘s parent, Swedish Automobile (formerly Spyker Cars), announced that an unnamed Chinese company will purchase 582 Saab cars at a total value of 13 million Euros ($18.4 million) in order to help the automaker pay wages to its employees and part of the money it owes to suppliers.

“I am pleased to announce this agreement, as it secures part of the necessary short-term funding for Saab Automobile and allows us to pay our employee’s wages before the end of this month,” declared Swedish Automobile CEO Victor Muller.

However, with suppliers facing prospects of only getting 10 percent of what they are owed in the short term, there have been calls for Saab to file for voluntary bankruptcy, the European association of automotive suppliers CLEPA, stating this is the only option in order to allow employees to obtain state aid.

In addition, Saab is still struggling to raise money via leasing and by-back of its real estate. According to an official release by Saab Automobiles, Russian businessman Vladimir Antonov is still very much interested in pour money into the ailing automaker, but was awaiting clearance from the Swedish National Debt Office.

Swedish real estate company Hemfosa, was on Saturday, preparing to buy and lease back Saab’s factory in Trollhattan, to help ease the company’s debt , though the deal still hinged on participation from the European Investment Bank as well as Chinese companies Pang Da and Youngman.

Nevertheless these ‘pending’ agreements have done little to quell fears about Saab’s longer term viability, particularly among CLEPA members. The organization’s CEO Lars Holmqvist believes that the Swedish government’s slow response to intervene with the Saab situation and the automaker’s low volume production, along with what he see as ‘pathetic’ last ditched attempts to secure funding, are only postponing the inevitable.

[Source: WSJ]

 |  May 13 2011, 4:35 PM

Documents filed with the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission revealed that Fisker, maker of the Karma hybrid sports car, is raising an additional $100 million in funding in advance of the company’s first customer deliveries.

While the investors have not been identified, the money comes in addition to Fisker’s $190 million in financing secured already. The Karma has entered production at Valmet’s Finnish plant. The Karma is expected to go on sale later this year, with an initial run of 3,000 cars before entering full production.

[Source: Automotive News]

 |  May 12 2011, 7:59 AM

Poor Saab, it just can’t seem to catch a break. After negotiations with several Chinese automakers, it appeared that a deal with Hawtai Motor Group had been reached. Now that deal has collapsed.

Saab parent, Spyker Cars, said that Hawtai was unable to obtain all the necessary consents, as a result; the arrangement has been terminated with immediate affect, though there still is the possibility the two companies might continue discussions, albeit on a non-exclusive basis.

In the meantime, Spyker and Saab will continue to work on finding short and medium-term funding, which includes more discussions with Chinese ‘partners.’  In addition, Saab is talking with the European Investment Bank to complete the 29 million Euro drawdown on the loan given to it , as well as getting approval to sell and lease Saab assets.

Spyker said that “as soon as the EIB drawdown or other equivalent funding is confirmed, Saab Automobiles plans to re-start production depending on the outcome of discussions with its suppliers.”  The saga continues.

[Source: Automotive News]