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Take a look at the Aptera .... not exactly a direct competitor to Bolt, but at $25K with 250 mile range, fascinating

14625 Views 277 Replies 44 Participants Last post by  GJETSON

They started development of this several years ago, but were too far ahead of their time, and closed down.
Recently resuscitated looks like they might actually get to market this time.

It can apparently really be significantly charged but its own solar panels in many climate zones, and in one configuration has a 1000 mile range.

I actually put a $100 deposit on one to hold my place in line.

---- added notes FWIW after seeing others' comments ---
I ordered one with the 400 mile range. In truth with our pattern of use and the fact that the 250 mile version can be fully re-charged in an hour at a level-2 charger 250 would be plenty.
Of note and interest to me is that it has no drive train. The motors are right in the hubs. That means no CV-joints, etc, to fail.
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Think about it, if you live in an apartment in Phoenix and you max out the solar and you only to ever plug in, period, end of story, a few times per year, what's that worth to you? Priceless, the difference between a BEV being viable and not even? Charging once every few months is way different than charging 6 times a month as an errand.

...I think the price point where it stopped being worth it was somewhere between $2-3,000 per kW or something. Again, we're talking about something I probably saw like 6 months ago though. Max optioned out solar is +$900 and brings you to 700kW total from (?).
I'm not saying it never makes sense, I'm saying the market where it does make sense is incredibly small. I'm also predicting Aptera to fail, just like every other US automotive manufacturer has in the last 100 years, with the exception of Tesla. Maybe they're not exactly an automotive manufacturer since they build trikes, but that's an even more niche market. It's almost as if they were trying to build something that would seriously appeal to as few people as possible at the price point of their product.

The price point where solar makes financial sense is easily calculable based on anticipated kWh added and anticipated years of ownership compared to your local cost of electricity. From an economics standpoint, there's nothing uniquely special about putting solar on an Aptera vs any other EV. A kWh added to a Bolt saves the same money as a kWh added to an Aptera. Efficiency has no bearing on the cost of a kWh.

300 watts comes standard on the Aptera. You can add 400 more for $900, which is how I abstracted out the total price of 700w to the consumer is $1,575. all of which would generate 3x more electricity if installed on the roof of a house rather than the roof of a car.

I see the appeal to single apartment dwellers in sunny regions though. If I were a reclusive apartment dweller in a sunny place, especially Hawaii, I may seriously consider it.

Has the company entered the "manufacturing h ell" phase yet? If not, that's the hard part, not prototyping concepts.

... and my confidence in hub motor durability is quite low. We'll see, maybe something has been figured out in that regard. Ride quality is probably very poor.
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It's unique in that this amount of power gives you 40ish miles on a good sun day while the equivalent would be like 8 or something on a Model Y. Why bother on the Tesla, becomes compelling on the Aptera.
The value of which is maybe $0.40 vs investing $1,550 for the 16 years it takes to break even.

That solar electricity has way more value if there's no access to standard 120v outlets to charge, which is hardly anyone.
I'm saying the solar "option" should be an all or nothing option from Aptera. The $675 of "included" solar has next to no value for those that protect their vehicle from damaging UV rays by parking inside a garage and charging from the wall.

I'd be ecstatic to be wrong and see these things flying off the shelves into apartment dwellers designated parking spaces. Hopefully those owners win the sun lottery by getting the 25% of parking spaces that are facing south, hopefully with few obstructions.
Happy to be wrong. Would be more interested if I lived in Hawaii where electricity is 4x the national rate. Then again, I'd have solar on the roof of my house and be charging from that.
Most ideas are bad. Adding solar to the roof of a vehicle isn't a new idea. That it isn't widely adopted says something about the value of it. There's some miniscule market for the concept, and hopefully it's large enough to keep Aptera from failing like almost all automotive companies do.

My $1 wager is Aptera isn't around 5 years from now. $10 it's not here in a decade.

I'm not hoping to be right in any of this, just evaluating based on the very few details I'm aware of. Predicting the future is nearly impossible, which is what makes it a fun game to participate in.

The fact that the base Aptera comes with a non-optional, nearly pointless 300 watt solar panel informs me of the gimmick nature of the design. It's meant as a means for the owner to say "It's a carbon free solar-powered car" so he can make the other devotees of the Green Religion green with envy. The $900 option is meant to come at a price where the consumer says to themselves, "it's less than a months rent and more than doubles the solar capacity." Not a bad marketing strategy by any means, but the actual utility to most people will be miniscule.
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I get 20% solar irradiation in early winter as I do in late spring at the 45th parallel (exactly).
I will say I'm a little hesitant to put my usual faith in Sandy on this one. He's an investor and his company was involved in designing the manufacturing process and facilities. I mean, he's investing so that does mean a lot. But at the same time, it's still kind of an ad for Aptera.
Always enjoy Sandy's insights presented on Autoline, and he is expert in the things he's expert on. When he gets out of his lane, like anything to do with electricity, his ignorance becomes apparent.

His expertise is manufacturing processes, not battery chemistry, not electronics, not motors and controllers. He knows more than the average public, but nowhere near an authority on such topics. Funny because that's what he mostly talks about these days and what drives his viewership. I'd rather listen to him talk about how Tesla made a wheel well with way too many parts, and that it should be a single part, or how the frame members could have been downsized since the battery added to the structural integrity.
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I don't buy for 1 second that the 3-wheel design was chosen for any other reason than to avoid the many regulations that only apply to 4-wheeled vehicles. It's the cheaper, faster way to market.

4-wheeled designs can be more efficient because then you only have 2 frontal areas covering wheels instead of 3, and there is a ton of aero drag caused by wheels. By lining the wheels up in a line, a single fairing can efficiently guide airflow around 2 wheels.

A trike will be much more prone to tire punctures too because that rear wheel sits in the middle of the road where nobody drives and debris accumulates. Instead of 2 tracks where wheels could potentially run over debris, there are now 3.

They might be performing a crash test which is optional, but I bet they won't be publishing swerve test.
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Look, I can tell you for certain you're wrong. By going 3 wheels when they plan to design to what a normal car performs to anyways they for certain have streamlined a lot, but guess what they've gotten in return?

A hodgepodge of motorcycle laws. You have to wear a helmet with this thing in New Hampshire. You have to get a motorcycle license in states like New York. Everyone who knows as much as you do, quite a lot of people, anyone who has ever ridden a motorcycle, is going to to know about the motorcycle regulations being easier to meet. They're going to have to combat that image.

I like where this conversation is going because this is the stuff I day dream about. So part of this is trying to both reduce the overall frontal proportions (like a missile) while not losing the stability of a wide-tracked vehicle. Once you put those requirements your "pontoons" so to speak have a ton more aerodynamic drag than in a 3-wheeled situation.
A hodgepodge of motorcycle laws isn't a barrier to their design though, but a burden for their customers to figure out, allowing them to more quickly and cheaply bring a product to market.

There's basically 2 scenarios in which a trike can be the more aerodynamic design than a 4 wheels.

The first, which Aptera chose, is to taper the vehicle toward the rear making it teardrop shaped. You can't do that if you've got 4 wheels, because those wheels define the width of the rear of the vehicle.

The second scenario is when a space in the middle of the vehicle must be created for the driver to occupy. Since that frontal area must be created to fit the person, tucking a trike wheel behind them becomes a no-brainer.

Neither of those designs is more efficient than a 4 wheeled vehicle where the occupant sits between the wheels enclosed in their fairing.

I bet if Aptera comes out with more cars, they will be 4-wheeled. There's a reason most vehicles have 4 wheels, and it's not because it's worse than 3.

As an aside, the electric vehicle I made in high school was a reverse trike, and that was chosen because it was simplest to make. It was a death trap of terrible handling characteristics.
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I have Kerbal Space Program but know well enough not to fire it up. I already waste enough time.
Kerbal is a matter of when, not if. Now's not a good time.
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Probably the same thing as torque vectoring. Since each wheel is independently powered, the torque and speed can very between them. In a turn, the outer wheel can be spun faster than the inner, for example, to help with the cornering process.
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Just looking at a video of the Aptera slowly driving from the company's website it looks like it shakes to pieces, likely due to all that unsprung weight. If people complain about a harsh ride in the Bolt, I bet Aptera takes it to another level.
While the data is unavailable, those who live in apartments without garages are by your definition lower income who are usually driving a used car and it will be fifteen years after the larger charging questions are answered before those outliers will be driving EVs. As mentioned previously, EV charging won't be answered all at once and on the first attempt. It will evolve. Solar may be the answer, but I'm not betting on it or on Aptera.

My grandfathers and my father packed a lunch and my grandmothers and mother cooked dinner. Even after I educated/worked my way into white collar jobs, I pack a lunch and cook dinner when I get home. The idea of DoorDash/GrubHub/Dominos, et al, would have seemed so ridiculous they/we wouldn't have believed anyone would choose to spend their food dollars in that manner; that it's become a thing is an excuse. That people today are too busy to shop and cook is simply untrue. Read the journals of women and men from past centuries to understand what busy really looks like.
Do apartment dwellers in general behave similar to homeowners with regard to financial discipline? I've only lived in an apartment once, and that was because my wife accepted a job, we packed up the 4-bedroom house, and moved into a 2-bedroom all in 4 days time. Then we had a kid. At the end of the 18mo lease, we had purchased a home. The rent on that 2-bedroom apartment is way higher than the mortgage/taxes/insurance on my 4-bedroom house. The utilities at the apartment are more because everything is electric and nothing was chosen for efficiency.

While I was there, I observed many new or otherwise expensive cars parked in the lot. There goes a downpayment on a house. Constant pizza and other food deliveries. People who drive large trucks (and live at an apartment). People watch TV all day.

That's not to say there aren't financially responsible people that rent, or that a truck is never justifiable if one lives in an apartment, only saying that the evidence seems to draw an inverse relationship between renters and financial responsibility. I expect apartment dwellers to be among the last to adopt EVs even if charging opportunity exists.

All that said, I find myself also lacking sympathy for those unwilling to make the sacrifices I am willing to make. For example, I voluntarily lived in my car for 2 years. You're describing a level of work and sacrifice others aren't willing to endure. I'm not the type to view myself as victim of circumstance and therefore have difficulty seeing others as victim of circumstance. Different lenses.
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I mean, I could store all of the 300-700 watt solar panels needed to make a few thousand cars in my garage :p
When air bags first became a thing, a contrarian friend maintained it was exactly the wrong solution to vehicle safety. Don't make it safer to be careless behind the wheel. His design would install a 12-gauge shotgun shell loaded with buckshot in the center of each steering wheel; a crash would fire the shells and blow away the drivers. Then defensive driving would become a very real imperative.

jack vines
I had a cousin that cut open his steering wheel and removed the airbag, then filled in the cavity with expanding foam. Said he didn't trust it, and didn't want it to accidentally deploy while he was driving.

He died primarily from not managing his diabetes and using meth... while on dialysis.
Hey, but his airbag didn't kill him!
He had one of those weedwacker engine scooters he used to drive around for transportation, and one day it snowed. He was determined to drive 15 miles round trip to the hardware store to put rivets in his tires so he had traction, so he wouldn't crash in the snow. As he drove his scooter in the snow to the hardware store, he crashed and broke his hip. The surgery was $65,000. The snow melted later that afternoon.
I mean, it loses in every vehicle to vehicle collision except a motorcycle. In my view, safe enough. A 2-seater almost implies a vehicle not owned by someone with a family. Almost.
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Only car I've owned that couldn't fit a bicycle is the Acura TSX, because it's a sedan. The others could fit 2 or 3 bikes.

I'm wondering if large checked baggage can fit in there? Minimum space in my view would be 2 large bags, and 2 carry-on.

I also wonder if the thing can accept a trailer hitch, because that would seriously improve it's utility. I've got a folding Harbor Freight 4x8 trailer that takes up practically no space in the garage that I use for everything.
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One of your video links sent me down a rabbit hole that ended in this

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