A recent video by Aptera shows us not only that it is committed to making the vehicle repairable by normal people, but it also gave us a peek at how some of that is actually going to happen. Keep in mind that these shots are of Alpha vehicles (early development vehicles), so things are likely to change. But it appears that the vehicle is going to have underbelly access of some kind.
Here’s the video I’m talking about. More comments below!
The video has interviews with Daniel Morris, one of Aptera’s mechanical engineers. His job is to help with vehicle integration, or making sure every system that works well on its own works well together as a vehicle. About half a minute in, it shows Morris climb under one of the vehicles and start poking at its guts.
The most interesting thing was that the underside of the vehicle was open, and before this video, most of us had no idea that there was any kind of underbelly access in the vehicle. Because the focus is on what the engineer is doing, and looks to have been shot with a long lens, it’s difficult to see what everything is. We can see the rear wheel, its suspension (which is definitely going to change for production), and the main AC power wires to feed the in-wheel hub motor. There are a bunch of other wires and other components that are much harder to identify.
In a second shot, we can see that the opening in the belly pan goes all the way as far as the dash. He’s roughly under the vehicle’s seats working, and we can see that further forward, there’s more compartment open.
I had been wondering before this whether you’d have to tear the interior out to get at items you need to repair, but it looks like that’s not going to be a problem. What I’d like to figure out is how the access panels are removed, how they’re tightly sealed to avoid aerydynamic drag, and whether the production vehicles will be so easy to get into.
It’s also great to see that the batteries (which will be in this area) will be accessible for repairs, especially by independent shops.
Finally, it’s great to see that the clearance underneath will make it so easy to get at the underpan for work. Many vehicles just don’t have room underneath without lifting, jacking, or driving up on ramps. The Aptera will be relatively easy to get under.
Right To Repair
By right to repair, they don’t mean that it will always be super easy, nor do they mean that all repair tasks would require zero skill. What they do mean is that there’s no technological or legal barrier to working on the vehicle. If you’re a DIYer, Aptera intends to provide a shop manual that you can use to do repairs. If you’re an independent shop, they’ll also have the information and more importantly, the parts to conduct any needed repairs.
It also looks like Apteras will come with a tool kit that can be used to do 80% of the common repairs a vehicle could need! This will not only be handy, and good for repairs or work needed during trips, but will also make it a lot easier for people who want to learn to work on cars to get started.
With the vehicle being easy to work on, with no barriers to independent work, I think we’re going to see some really cool things happen.
For one, we’re going to eventually see aftermarket parts. Some will be factory-spec or similar to provide cheaper repairs. Others will be made for improvements of various kinds. It doesn’t seem like Aptera will oppose people coming up with aftermarket parts, and may even provide some assistance. We will probably see things like lift kits, lowering kits, power mods, aftermarket fenders, and brake upgrades.
Another thing we’ll probably see with Apteras is people modifying the software and computer hardware. Some companies are already offering upgrades and hacks for EVs, but companies like Tesla are very much against it and are constantly trying to disable them with updates. Aptera seems to be a very open-minded company, though.
I’m sure they won’t want to give you free warranty support if you brick your Aptera with aftermarket updates or damage it with power mods, but they aren’t going to be actively trying to keep aftermarket companies from selling these products and services, or get in the way of you doing your own work on the car.
The Car Is Going To Get Simpler As It’s Developed
When I was looking at the video above, I did get a little concerned. That was a LOT of wires hanging under the car. It looked like it could be a nightmare to work on or give a lot of opportunities for things to go wrong. But, then I remembered another video from September that shows us that it’s probably not going to be that electrically complex.
They’re moving away from having a couple of central controllers and then a bunch of sub-controllers that are all connected with a big spaghetti of wires throughout the car, or big, thick wiring harnesses that run under and through everything.
Instead, they’re aiming at simplified wiring and controller arrangements. There will be simple data and power wiring that connect different “point of use” controllers to the main computer. This means that every device or controller in the car won’t need to have its own dedicated wire to the main computer, Instead, it will share buses with other controllers, and thus share wiring. This will mean there aren’t so many wires going everywhere.
This will not only make it easier to work on, but cheaper, lighter, and more efficient. Deleting a few thin wires here and there won’t take much weight off the car, but when you add up thousands of little decisions that delete a tiny amount of weight, pretty soon you’re taking dozens of pounds off the car.
Want To Get One?
Are you thinking of getting your own Aptera? I can’t blame you — I’ve got my own order in. If you use my referral link, you can save $30 on the reservation fee.
All images in this article are screenshots from Aptera’s YouTube channel.
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