It’s been a wild ride for Aptera, but things may be coming to a successful conclusion. For those who’ve been longtime readers, we’ve been following them from the beginning. That means back before 2010 when it was going to be a hybrid car with a very similar shape. Things fell apart for Aptera 1.0, with a failure to get funding for production, but the concept didn’t die there.
As the 2010s wore on, Aptera came back to life, this time as a battery EV (not a hybrid) and covered in solar cells to make it a solar-electric vehicle. Aptera marketed it as the “never charge” electric vehicle, and says it will gain up to 40 miles of range daily if parked outside in good sunlight.
The revived Aptera then set itself on a path to production with four planned steps. First, it built an Alpha prototype, which was just to prove the concept out and determine whether there were any serious design issues. As is usual for an “alpha” project, there were problems that needed to be ironed out, especially for accommodating taller drivers and passengers. The next step was Beta, which mostly proved out things like suspension design. Next came Gamma, a final step that was meant to be improved upon.
Now, after seeing areas where Gamma could be improved upon, the company has released the final renders of the Delta design, which is supposed to be the production-ready design. Some minor tweaks may happen between now and production, but they will probably only be very small modifications. The company has been working on production optimization since very early in the process with well-known manufacturing consultants Munro & Associates.
The video doesn’t give any in-depth information (that’s coming up during a webinar on January 20th), but it does start by showing the major components of the chassis all coming together. Many Aptera skeptics have been asking about crash worthiness, but it’s apparent that the Aptera is no egg shell. It’s got a lot of interlocking components that should provide some serious rigidity, and what looks like rollover protection as well.
It also has a subframe assembly that looks to house the battery pack and tie the front and rear suspensions together.
This should not only make the body more rigid, but also keep play between the front and rear suspensions to a minimum.
They next show the Elaphe hub motors being mounted to the suspension, and the rest of the body panels all come together. We can see a large belly pan come up under the vehicle, which is where the cooling for the battery is supposed to be.
The end result is something very similar to the Gamma design we saw revealed earlier in 2022. The rear of the deck in the back is much thinner than Alpha models, and there’s a lot more interior room, especially for taller people. The suspension is all tightened up into three low-resistance channels to avoid aerodynamic drag, and the designs of the fenders and rear fairing all seem to be tuned up, too.
Like the Gamma interior, the Delta interior seems to be very Tesla-like, with a minimalist approach taken, a center display, and a yoke. But there are some key differences between Aptera’s approach and that of Tesla. The display over the yoke is there to substitute for mirrors, and the yoke itself is a very different overall shape that could be more widely useful than Tesla’s yoke. The shape of the seats is also a very big difference that gives the Aptera a unique look.
Finally, they give us a look at the solar panels, from the top. We can see that they’ve jam-packed as much solar as they could possibly fit onto it, including positioning some of it on the dash. They seem to be making good on the promise of a car that won’t need to charge very often, and perhaps not at all for some drivers. Plus, the cells seem very well-integrated into the panels, which shows us how far that aspect of Aptera technology has come.
Other Information Provided
Beyond the visual hints in the video, they also told us a couple of things about the launch. First off, the Launch Edition vehicles will all be of the same configuration, which will help them more quickly get production off the ground. Other configurations will be available later, which will give production lines a chance to adapt and expand from the initial configuration.
On January 20th, we should look forward to much more in-depth information about not only Delta, but the strategies the company is using to get the car the rest of the way into production.
Challenges Still Lie Ahead
It’s important to note that the company has got a final design on the table, but they’re still scrambling to get the car into actual production.
“Once we reach our funding objectives and complete the Delta phase of development, we will be able to begin production of our Launch Edition vehicles.”
I’m pulling for Aptera, but “once we reach our funding objectives …” pic.twitter.com/HF1bA4dodJ
— EVAdoption (@EVAdoptionTweet) January 3, 2023
The “once we reach our funding objectives” part is what killed Aptera the first time, unfortunately. While the details are fuzzy, the design was also largely completed and attempts to secure enough funding to go to production failed. What appears to be different this time is that they’ve got more production plans and properties in place, and they seem to be a lot closer to their funding goal than they were in 2011.
Reaching the goal is probably going to require getting a lot more public attention showing people that they’d be better off with an Aptera than a comparably-priced conventional electric car. Fortunately, starting at below $30,000 pits it against things like the Chevy Bolt and Nissan LEAF, so it’s not like they have to prove they’re better than a Tesla (even if there are ways in which the Aptera will be competitive). But, to attract investment, they need to convince potential investors that other people can be convinced to buy the car, which is a little more challenging.
Either way, the threshold for investment in the company has been reduced to $210, so this won’t be only about attracting big money to get over the finish line.
Another challenge they’ll face is finalizing other configurations. I’ve noticed across the different videos in recent times that they’re only complete on their design for the 400-mile range model, including battery pack design. They’ve probably got at least a basic idea of how they’ll build the 600 and 1000-mile packs, but they still have work to do after their first vehicles are built and delivered. That might not be much, but it’s a challenge to think about.
I don’t think any of this is insurmountable, but it’s not quite a done deal.
Do you feel like we’ve helped you understand Aptera better, and you’re ready to pull the trigger? If so, feel free to use our referral code to reserve yours. We get an “Aptera Point” that we can use to get some test vehicles, and you get a discount on your reservation.
Featured image by Aptera.
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Source: Clean Technica