Californian car manufacturer Aptera Motors had big plans to revamp the auto industry with its sleek, aerodynamic electric cars.
With the help of Darrell Issa (R-CA), the company had hoped to secure a lucrative $150 million Department of Energy loan guarantee. Issa even sent Energy Secretary Steven Chu a letter back in January 2010 supporting the company's request.
“They were looking for an answer,” Issa told POLITICO in October. “We simply encouraged it. It’s an interesting project for the commuter vehicle . . . and we simply wanted an answer.”
Issa said the loan would “greatly assist a leading developer of electric vehicles in my district.”
However, when Aptera Motors was unable to secure the loan, the company announced that it would permanently close its doors due to a “lack of resources.”
But something else has surfaced since that announcement.
“Less than a week after California startup Aptera Motors announced it was going out of business, videos of what appear to be employees of the company playfully destroying body shells of its radical electric car have appeared on the internet, prompting outcry from many in the alternative car arena, including two of the automaker’s former executives,” reports Fox News.
Apparently, the destructive activity was sanctioned by Aptera management.
Some have argued that the videos aren't a big deal because the "teardrop-shaped chassis seen being thrown around by forklifts and crushed into walls are flawed prototypes that were being disposed of intentionally, and subjected to a little impromptu crash testing in the process,” Fox reports.
Nevertheless, the videos have some of the company’s former executives and investors upset.
Not too long ago Aptera co-founder Chris Anthony wrote that the overall plan for the company once it went out of business was to put the assets into:
…a trust with a very well respected Managed Liquidation Company. Their responsibility is to maximize the value of the remaining assets for the benefit of debt and share holders. There are no employees at Aptera and no Board of Directors. Everything that is Aptera, in terms of assets and IP, are now held by the Managed Liquidation Company.
This process to establish how the liquidation will occur has begun, but will take several weeks to be fully defined. Eventually, the assets will be auctioned off to the highest bidder to do with what they choose.
It is the responsibility of the managed liquidation company to protect Aptera's assets and maximize their value now. They were there when the doors were closed and hold the only access to these assets now.
Nothing will be destroyed, taken away, or otherwise impacted in a way that value will be decreased.
"There is no viable or logical reason for this to have been done, only to prevent the founders from ever seeing their functioning works again,” wrote Steve Fambro, Former Chief Technical Officer and co-founder of Aptera, according to Autoblog.
Karen Pease, one of the early members on the waiting list for the vehicles, said that the vehicles in the videos are actually the models that fans had "fallen in love with before the design became all bloated and inefficient under Team B,” reports ABC News.
“There’s a reason they’re giggling and making fun of them,” she said. “It’s like winning an enemy’s house from them in a contest and then burning it down.”
Pease, who was a prolific member of the Aptera online forum, said several employees began to contact her after the company, founded in 2005, started, in her words, “going downhill.”
“They took the vehicles that inspired thousands of people to put down a deposit, gutted them of their reinforcements and smashed them against a concrete wall, giggling about it like high-schoolers smashing mailboxes,” Pease told ABC News.com. “These were incredible vehicles that could do 100mph and cruise at highway speeds using the power of two blowdryers; they belonged in a museum.”
In response to the videos and concerns about the failed company's assets, an Aptera spokesman says that they are "safely under the control of a liquidation company that plans to dispose of them"
This video was posted with the following description: “Now I know what it was like to watch Roman soldiers burn down the library of Alexandria for fun.”
Towards the end of the video, you can hear one of the employees say, "None of this sh*t ends up on YouTube." Why not? If these were really just the failed prototypes, and not actual company assets, what's the problem with posting these videos to YouTube?