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Featured image: A screenshot from the Aptera webinar.

Clean Transport

Aptera Reveals Launch Edition EV (Part 2)

In Part 1, I shared a lot of information that came from Aptera’s Launch Edition reveal. If you haven’t already read that, I’d recommend starting there. A link to watch the event yourself is also included in Part 1. (Also, Updated here.)

The Founders Talk Production

After hearing from Jason Hill about design, the company’s founders took the floor again to talk more about the production process.

Instead of starting with its local production in California, they went into some detail about their partnership with CPC group in Italy. That company is going to be building the carbon fiber body structures for them using a secret “futuristic” process that Aptera apparently isn’t allowed to talk about. This is great for Aptera because CPC already has the experience to get production of Aptera’s design right from the beginning instead of having to go through a painful trial and error process on their own. This should help speed up production immensely.

The Last Phase Before Production: Delta

They went on to tell us a little more about the next and final phase of development. The Delta prototypes will be sent for crash testing and every other required process to start actual production. Once everything is fully validated, they’ll be able to show us a built Launch Edition car instead of renderings.

Another exciting thing they’ll be able to do once validation and safety testing is complete is offer test drives. Later in the Q&A, they explain that they’ve started with simulations, both on their own and with more experienced partners. This works because materials like carbon fiber and aluminum are well understood, and how they’ll behave under different forces is easy to model and get right. Both aerodynamic and crash safety simulations were made possible by renting computer time from Amazon.

The next step (now that modeling has happened on the way to the Delta design) is to do actual crash testing with the airbag manufacturer. This is a lengthy process, but it probably won’t involve government the way a four-wheeled car does. Autocycles aren’t regulated the way cars are, but Aptera isn’t going to sell without its own serious testing.

European deliveries, as well as deliveries to other parts of the world will be more complicated. Each country (or group of countries like the EU) has its own homologation process that Aptera will have to go through to deliver serious numbers there. Partner companies will be a part of this process.

They couldn’t tell us much about offering lane centering and adaptive cruise, but Aptera does have at least one development vehicle running a partner’s software and they’ve been testing the same software in some of their personal vehicles. This probably won’t be in the Launch Edition, but it’s something they do want to offer later.

Aptera Still Needs Money To Go Into Production

This is something Aptera fans and skeptics alike have been concerned about, and we haven’t heard anything specific for a while. But, during the webinar, they announced that the company has raised $85 million from about 15,000 investors. But it’s still about $50 million short of what they need to begin volume production. While this sounds dire, Aptera is a lot closer than it was a few months ago, and is more than halfway there.

To raise the rest of the money, Aptera is working on getting institutional capital (large investors), working to get government grants and loans, and also via crowdfunding (small investors).

 Q&A Session

Once they were done with their presentation, they moved to taking questions via live chat. I won’t detail every question and answer, but here are a few notable things I learned from the Q&A (assuming I didn’t already incorporate the information into the article where it was a good fit):

One notable thing for Launch Edition buyers to remember is that the lack of customization options (battery size, paint, interior) doesn’t mean that accessories won’t be available. They won’t tell us at this point exactly what the accessories are, but there will probably be things like tents, aftermarket wheel fenders, and other upgrades.

If you were one of the earliest reservation holders, you may remember that they called it the “paradigm” configuration. They aren’t sharing details, but they do want you to know that if you were a Paradigm reservation holder, you’ll still get something very special regardless of what configuration you choose.

In Aptera’s early incarnation (Pre-2012), it was working on a four-wheel five-seat vehicle, and there are still plans to produce larger vehicles in the future. But, they don’t want to talk or even think about that too much right now because they need to focus on the production of the first vehicle. If they can’t do that, they’ll never deliver anything else. They will say that the things they learned designing the Delta vehicle scales to larger vehicles.

They also took a question about why they aren’t offering DC fast charging with the Launch Edition. The first thing they said was that they wanted to keep things simple for now (like other aspects of the Launch Edition). They also don’t think that most people will really use DC fast charging in an Aptera.

My Thoughts On All This

The biggest controversy I’ve been seeing is over the lack of DC fast charging in the Launch Edition. Unlike some other EV journalists and big social media accounts, I wanted to make it clear in Part 1 and again here that this isn’t a permanent design choice for all future Apteras. Only the Launch Edition won’t be available with rapid charging, and there will be some process to retrofit it.

For me, I’m going to go ahead and get a Launch Edition. I already converted my order over to one. But, it’s not going to be my primary car. If there’s a trip it can’t go on because it doesn’t have rapid charging, I’ll take my Bolt EUV or perhaps even a gas-powered crossover I also have (but only drive once a month or less).

If I was looking to buy an Aptera as my primary vehicle, I think I’d put my order off until Aptera offers either the DCFC option or 1,000 miles of range. Even driving a gas-powered car, I’ve only ever done 1,000 miles in a day, so that could work. 400 is a bit short, though. Your needs may differ, so be sure to think and make sure your needs are taken care of with the Aptera you order.

I think the real challenge at this point will be to get enough people to buy an EV without DCFC. If Aptera can fill up its Launch Edition order sheet, it will probably move on. But, if the naysayers are right and offering a car without DCFC is completely unacceptable, it could be a hill they die on.

I also want to hazard an educated guess about its lane centering software. It sounds a lot like they’re working with Comma.ai. It is the only company I know of that someone could test both in a prototype car and in their personal vehicles. If that’s the case, it’s probably a good move.

This webinar was a big day for Aptera, and there probably won’t be big news from the company for a while, but I’ll end this article by giving readers an opportunity to save $30 on their reservation if you think you’d like to put in an order (I get referral points toward Apteras for CleanTechnica to long-term test later). Also, if you think Aptera is a good bet for investing (I offer no advice on that whatsoever), you can learn more about that here.

Featured image: a screenshot from the Aptera webinar.

 

 
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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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