Cleared for Takeoff
Brevard's model car
R.J. Scaringe has been crazy about cars for as long as he can remember. And at 27, with funding from Space Florida and private investors, the engineer’s son with a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering has decided to start his own car company — Avera Motors, headquartered in Rockledge, about 20 miles from Kennedy Space Center.
Avera has kept details about the name and appearance of its vehicle under wraps, as is traditional in auto manufacturing. Scaringe says the car will be fun to drive and environmentally responsible. One model will run on gas and another on diesel, but its light body weight and engine will allow it to get double the mileage of a hybrid, says the company, which has just completed a working prototype.
Avera CEO R.J. Scaringe (left) and Celyn Evans, director of vehicle engineering
Scaringe describes the car as a cross between a Lotus Elise and a Mini Cooper: A high-performance, mid-engine, rear-wheel drive, two-door sports coupe that can carry four passengers.
Its aim is to bridge the gap between the desires of car enthusiasts, who want a more exciting vehicle than the “green” products on the market today, and the person who cares about high energy costs and carbon emissions and typically can’t or won’t spend money on a high-performance sports car.
Backers: Space Florida and private investors
Production/Cost: Set to begin in late 2012 and hit the market a year later, priced between $25,000 and $28,000
Marketing: The company plans to sell its cars through a viral online marketing campaign and through a series of dealerships statewide, which would service the vehicles.
Brevard County is a great place to start the company, Scaringe says. It has a technically skilled workforce, and its weather and beach lifestyle make it easy to recruit talent from Detroit.
The company has already promised to sell its first prototype car to Space Florida, which plans to test the vehicle in collaboration with NASA to demonstrate the latest technology.
“They’re working hard to diversify the economy here,” Scaringe says. “We met with them, and they fell in love with the project. They felt we could be a big part of this local economy and turn it around beyond aerospace.”