Aptera to move headquarters to Carlsbad, place car factory out of state.

"Economically, it's just more affordable to build elsewhere. The numbers were never big enough for me to ever write them down," he said of Aptera's courtship of California.

By Pat Maio pmaio | NCTimes.com

Aptera Motors Inc., which once had big plans to hire thousands to design and manufacture ultra-efficient cars in Oceanside, is trimming costs by moving its headquarters to Carlsbad while it searches for a factory in the auto-rich region east of the Mississippi River.

“We are really scrutinizing our business,” said Paul B. Wilbur, president and chief executive of Aptera Motors.

The moves are part of a bigger plan to eventually garner a key guaranteed loan from the federal Energy Department that would allow it to begin low-level production on its teardrop-shaped vehicles. It hopes to finalize those confidential negotiations with the government in the next six months.

“I’m not sitting around hoping for an answer,” said Wilbur, who is taking steps to get the automobile startup running with other investors on board as well by the fall.

Aptera employs about 50 people, but could see its workforce grow to a “couple hundred” by later this year —- far short of the 500 at corporate headquarters and the many thousands that it originally envisioned as part of an auto manufacturing hub in Oceanside.

Wilbur said that California economic officials did little to offer an attractive package of tax abatements, incentives and other carrots to keep Aptera’s manufacturing in the state.

“Economically, it’s just more affordable to build elsewhere. The numbers were never big enough for me to ever write them down,” he said of Aptera’s courtship of California.

“We have states calling us to actually compete for the manufacturing,” Wilbur said. “They are offering us tens of millions of dollars to come into their state. It is hard to turn them down.”

Wilbur said Aptera is likely to end up in a factory east of the Mississippi River.

Decisions on its restructuring accelerated May 12 when Aptera’s board of directors decided to abandon its 200,000-square-foot building along Ocean Ranch Drive and move to one less than half that size at 2765 W. Loker Ave. in Carlsbad.

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