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Lectron To Provide Tesla/NACS Connector & EVSE For Aptera

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A couple weeks ago, we covered Aptera’s buried announcement that it will be using the Tesla/NACS plug for its vehicle. It was expected that the company would make this choice, but it was not highlighted. Days later the company announced in a blog post (as the main topic) that it would be using the Tesla connector. Plus, the company announced that it chose Lectron, a manufacturer of EV charging adapters, to provide the plug and charging cord sets for the vehicle.

The Worst-Kept Secret Ever

This isn’t surprising news to those who have been paying attention. Aptera has had a Tesla plug on all of its prototypes since it reemerged in 2019–2020. The electric autocycle’s license plate is small like a motorcycle’s, and the Tesla plug has been hidden behind it.

Image courtesy of Aptera Motors.

From the start, Aptera couldn’t tell us what its definite choice of plug would be. However, this seemed to be its top pick. Fitting a small Tesla plug behind a motorcycle license plate would be much simpler than trying to force a CCS plug in there. Plus, the aerodynamic design of the whole vehicle would be damaged by trying to put a CCS plug anywhere else besides the very small back panel — which was already too tiny. And since then, the shape of the car has only gotten thinner at the back.

At the time, Aptera said it would offer Level 2 charging at 3 kilowatts and 6 kilowatts, and hoped to offer Level 3 charging at 50 kilowatts. 50 kW sounds very slow compared to other cars on the market, but when that battery pack is pushing a car that’s three times more efficient than the average EV, you end up with something like 500 miles per hour through efficiency instead of just brute force of electrical power.

Development continued, and the team eventually started talking about charging ports again. More important things, like designing a good cockpit for people of different sizes, developing the solar technology, finishing the battery pack’s design, power electronics, and many other things had to come first. But as the design process got to the third stage (out of four), Aptera realized it needed to focus on charging ports again.

A few months ago, Aptera petitioned for Tesla’s plug to be made the standard in the United States. Aptera’s team believes that J1772 and CCS plugs are expensive, large, and difficult to use. The founders of the company requested that Congress make the Tesla plug the national standard. Even though the petition managed to get 40,000+ signatures (as of this writing), it was also not well received in EV media and among non-Tesla enthusiasts as a publicity stunt or even an attempt to get Elon Musk to buy Aptera.

Tesla Responded By Opening Up The Standard

Tesla didn’t directly respond to the petition, but it did post on its blog mentioning that the company was opening up the standard for all manufacturers and charging station owners to use. Tesla also changed the name of its system to the “North American Charging Standard.”

The rationale behind Tesla’s choice was quite similar to Aptera’s. The Tesla plug is more manageable, lighter weight, and affordable. Additionally, Tesla claims it can manage up to 1 megawatt of charging — almost double what the best water-cooled CCS plugs are able to do. Furthermore, there are way more Tesla Supercharger stalls than stalls from all other EV rapid charging stations in North America combined, so it is obviously the more popular plug type.

This Latest Announcement

“We’re thrilled about this news and applaud Tesla for allowing and encouraging the EV industry to utilize its superior technology,” said Chris Anthony, Co-CEO of Aptera Motors. “We believe Tesla’s decision is an essential step toward shifting the future of transportation to a more efficient and greener direction, and we look forward to adopting its connector in our sEVs.”

Beyond just announcing the choice of the Tesla/NACS plug, Aptera announced that EV adapter manufacturer Lectron would be supplying the inlets and the EVSE (electric vehicle service equipment) for Aptera cars.

“We’re excited about the news of Tesla opening up its NACS to the transportation industry. We believe the growing EV charging market needs innovations like this which greatly benefit equipment builders and end customers,” said Christopher Maiwald, Founder and CEO of Lectron. “We also believe in fast and efficient charging, and that sustainability is the future of transportation. That’s why we’re excited to team up with such an innovative company as Aptera Motors. With their fleet of solar EVs, they are reimagining what an EV can be in terms of style and efficiency.”

This Makes A Lot Of Sense

While it may seem weird to some that Aptera wouldn’t just build its own J1772 connectors, it really makes sense to just buy them from Lectron. The company has been building adapters (including a Tesla inlet) for years, and they’re familiar with the company’s charging protocols. So, they’re a natural source of Tesla/NACS inlets that are proven to work well with Tesla charging hardware as well as other EVSE and stations with Tesla/NACS plugs.

What Hasn’t Been Announced (Yet)

It’s important to note that while Aptera has announced that it intends to use the plug, Tesla has not announced that non-Tesla vehicles will be allowed on the U.S. Supercharger network. The electric automaker did say that it intends to do this at some point, but that day has not yet come.

So, there are several ways this could go.

If things go the smoothest for Aptera, it’ll have a way for Aptera owners to charge at Tesla’s stations. This may happen with the Tesla app, and ideally the station would recognize the car and charge up automatically just like any Tesla vehicle does today. Or, if there’s any kind of technical hangup, you might have to use either the Tesla app or Aptera’s app to start a charging session.

If Tesla doesn’t open the network quickly enough for Aptera’s launch, it may be necessary to use an adapter to charge the cars at CCS stations until that happens. This is still alright, because the Tesla inlet is small enough that Aptera wouldn’t have to compromise on aerodynamic efficiency to accommodate a CCS plug. Having to keep an adapter in the car until Supercharger networks are ready to accommodate them wouldn’t be a huge deal.

Either way, expect more information about this and Aptera’s final design soon!

Do you feel like my Aptera coverage has helped you understand the company and its upcoming vehicle? Ready to put in an order for yours? Feel free to use my referral code. You get $30 off your pre-order fee and I get credit toward some Aptera vehicles to test here at CleanTechnica!

Featured image provided by Aptera.

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Written By

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.


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