While we’ve done a lot of articles about Aptera (to the point where a few readers expressed this to us, so we’re cutting back on it), and even visited its facility and took some test drives, one key detail has still been up in the air: the battery pack. This is a key component to not only the vehicle’s propulsion system, but also to its handling, cooling, and manufacturing.
It’s a key detail that everything hinges on, so it’s not an exaggeration to say that this is a big deal.
The prototypes I rode in and looked at had a testing pack with only around 16 kWh. From what I’ve read, Beta vehicles (newer prototypes since I visited them) still have small packs, but with extra weight added to test handling for the final pack’s weight. I’ve been wondering when the final design would come out, but I also knew that there were still some technical challenges to solve.
But now Aptera has revealed how it’s all going together:
One thing that confused me right away is that they keep talking about a 41 kWh battery pack. Even with Aptera’s efficient design, there’s no way you’re going to get 1,000 miles (the range figure that’s getting kicked around) out of a 41 kWh pack. But, keep in mind that Apterae will come with several options for battery size. The 41 kWh pack appears to be aimed at the 400-mile range model, which appears to be coming first. Other packs with different numbers of modules will be smaller or bigger, with a 100ish kWh pack giving the 1,000-mile range.
What’s important in this video is that Aptera has finished up a basic design. There’s an egg-crate like bottom to hold the cells, plastic separation between each cell, and a lid on the module.
It’s not clear in the video how cooling happens, but there’s space around every cell that seems like it could be used for some sort of cooling. Another important thing to note is that the company is currently working with 3D-printed prototypes, while the final parts will be manufactured in more traditional ways from traditional materials. The ends of the cells could potentially be used for cooling, depending on the material.
Another thing Aptera revealed is that it is integrating power control circuitry into the battery pack itself rather than putting it with the motor or elsewhere in the car. This probably helps keep the design compact and light, but it could also be good for efficiency. The design could also require some small changes as they validate, test, and certify the design should any unexpected issues come up.
There are many little clues in the video, but it’s not surprising that they aren’t giving super detailed information about every aspect of the pack at this point. Aptera probably hasn’t patented the design, as it’s likely to require small tweaks before production. Giving away its intellectual property now would only give the competition the ability to beat it at the efficiency game before there’s any protection for it.
So, we’re still going to be on the lookout for more information as it becomes available.
Featured image: Screenshot from Aptera’s video.