With all of the plans for the Vector in place, it seemed that car would finally reach "production volume." Advertisements began running in Automotive News for dealer representatives. Sports Car International and Road & Track offered favorable test drives of the production models. Plans for two new models and even an IMSA race car were initiated.
Fighting a self-described uphill battle, Vector aimed toward highly unlikely production levels. The company itself estimated the world's exotic sports car market at about 3500 cars each year. Ferrari sells 3000 annually worldwide. Lamborghini and Aston Martin build more than 200 cars each a year.
With various other manufacturers making up most of the remainder, the potential market for a company without a grand historical lineage was nearly insignificant; definitely not the volume Vector expected to sell.
The signs were not good by March. After a costly two-month delay the first M12s were delivered. Vector had established only three dealerships by this time. These outlets provided the foundation of a planned 15-dealership network worldwide. Part of the contract required that dealers carry a minimum of two cars, instantly creating a backlog in unfilled purchase orders.
After only eight cars, the trouble was deeply rooted. In July, Vector production was scaled down. The company reduced its workforce by 70 percent. Braner returned to Vector as a consultant to assist in another reorganization.
By November, Vector had completely stopped production, laid off another 25 employees, and was looking to V'Power to infuse more money. Stock prices of the little automaker had plummeted from $.91 in March 1996 to $.03 in November.
In an ever-shrinking supercar market, the Vector Aeromotive Corporation looked as if it would never reach the exclusive level achieved by such marques as Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Maserati. Vector acknowledged its market position and stated that it would have to suspend operations with three unfinished 1997 model M12s sitting on the factory floor.
As time wore on, even the small investors were getting anxious. Claims of disconnected phone lines and padlocked gates reverberated around the internet.
People holding stock purchased at prices over $1 a share debated what to do with pieces of paper worth only five and 10 cents. NASDAQ dropped the stock from its small-capitalization market listing because it failed to meet the exchange's capital requirements. Then hope arose once again.
Go on to the next page to learn about the legacy of the Vector.