Instead, the company ran into design problems. Its first prototype featured an aerodynamic, composite body with a drag one-third that of an average car. "But the windows were stationary - Aptera couldn't figure out how to package roll-up, roll-down windows in the doors, which is really a simple design change," says Paul Wilbur, a former Chrysler executive who recently took over as Aptera's CEO. "While the original design might have been more aerodynamic, we would have made the entire fast-food industry obsolete if we didn't put in windows that went up and down."
To make its cars more appealing - and useful - to the masses, Aptera hired a team of Detroit veterans, headed by Wilbur, who also will help the company build to economies of scale. By the end of next year, Aptera hopes to ship cars to the 3,600 customers who have already paid a $500 deposit (the cars will sell for around $30,000). In 2010, Aptera intends to ramp up production to about 45,000 vehicles, while its founder and current CTO, Steve Fambro, develops the company's first hybrid.
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