Steve: A lot of Aptera fans are wondering why you would take the big leap from Detroit to a small start up on the west coast?
Paul: It was a pretty easy decision, actually.
The world is changing and it's changing fast. I decided to make a long term decision to be a part of the future of the transportation industry rather than continuing to work in the niche, specialty car industry. So you might say that I am transitioning from one of the largest carbon footprints in America into one of the smallest.
It's a fact: The world is running out of oil. Expert geophysicists tell us we are already on the downside from peak world oil production while demand for petroleum and petroleum based products are increasing at an alarmingly fast pace, especially with China's automotive industry coming on-line as a major worldwide consumer of petroleum.
I honestly expect that in the near future gas prices will exceed $5 per gallon and my children will pay double that price in their lifetime, assuming that they can get it at all.
At Saleen, we were making great 620hp Mustangs that guzzled fuel. It was a ton of fun, the cars were blazingly fast, but that didn't seem as relevant as working on vehicles that can reduce our dependence on foreign oil, reduce the emissions and noise pollution in our big cities and help better our society overall.
This is why I made the change.
And did I mention the weather in Carlsbad is pretty nice too! I remember the line from the movie, A Field of Dreams ... is this heaven?" states a ball player to Kevin Costner... "No, it's Iowa". Well, the weather in Carlsbad is heavenly to me.
Steve: What can we learn from Detroit?
Paul: A lot. Detroit has taught me many valuable lessons in automotive design, engineering and manufacturing. The industry is one of the most interesting and complex in the world.
Detroit does a lot of things right and I still hold the automaker's capabilities in high regard. Many of Detroit's present problems are caused by historic decisions and union agreements relating to wage agreements that are simply not competitive in a new global economy: historic luxuries and entitlements given to all employees such as fully paid retirement plans, vertical integration into antiquated processes and technologies, and changing personal tastes in automobiles. This doesn't mean that the people working in this industry are bad. Quite the contrary, some of Detroit's best and brightest engineers and manufacturing experts are leading the construction of plants and development of new products throughout most of the world today.
But what we can learn from Detroit relates to changing technologies that radically impact automotive design and construction. New technologies are changing all the assumptions about how cars are built and auto companies must react to those changes. Many of these newest technologies are already integrated into the Aptera.
The technologies in the Aptera are as dramatic as the aerodynamic shape itself. Let me give you just one simple example: there are very few wires inside the vehicle. Electrical function is controlled by a distributed http://www.aptera.com/newsletter092508/i/O circuitry (computer circuit boards) inside the vehicle. 11 Aptera circuit boards replace hundreds of pounds of wiring. On board the vehicle, Aptera has more than 45 circuit boards controlling every function that the driver and passenger desire. And it's not only lighter than all of those bundles of wires, it's also much more reliable. I could go on, but I need to save something for a future interview. Suffice to say that there are innovations galore on the inside and outside of this vehicle, and that's what makes it fun for me.
The more you learn about Aptera, the better the vehicle becomes.
Steve: And what don't we want to learn from Detroit?
Paul: Don't get complacent, don't ever stop listening to your customers,don't ever stop innovating.
Steve: Two weeks into the job, what are your impressions of Aptera?
Paul: It's awesome. I love the car, the concept, the engineering going on, it's great. The people who work at the company are fully committed to making this a real game changer. Often, I have a large group of the staff still working with me at 8pm at night. They are passionate about what they are doing and it shows. With this vehicle, there's no precedent and we are constantly reminded that we are breaking new ground and doing engineering on a whole new level. I believe that, in a few years, when we are driving the Aptera down the road and stop at a traffic light next to a three-ton SUV, we will look over and say, 'Wow! That's a dinosaur. What were we thinking?'.
Steve: What do you want to say to the 3,600 people who pre-ordered a vehicle?
Paul: You are all lucky that you are in line in front of me. Anyone want to trade numbers? I am number 1,654 in the all-electric line. But seriously, I think that the more you read and the more you know about Aptera, the smarter the vehicle choice is. There is so much to talk about. We had to create a whole new website just to have enough room to start talking about it. Expect the new website to launch in a month or so.
Steve: What do you want to say to the 45,000 people who subscribe to the newsletter?
Paul: First of all, thanks for staying current with us via the newsletter. We believe we are starting a revolution in transportation efficiency. Our goal is to be the worldwide leader in automotive efficiency, moving people from point A to B at the lowest possible energy cost. Please join our revolution. You can join us in four ways :
- Reserve a new Aptera online
- Come and work with us. Position descriptions are found on-line
- Invest in us. We are always looking for investors.
- Become an advocate and spread the work digitally about the revolution that is starting.