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Featured image: A screenshot from the Aptera webinar.

Clean Power

Aptera Reveals Launch Edition EV

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Recently, Aptera held a live online event where the company revealed the Launch Edition version of its three-wheeled solar-powered car. There are some really cool things about the final design, but also some downsides early adopters will face. You can see the event yourself below, or read my recap and commentary below it.

Introduction & Basic Information

Aptera starts out with a nice introduction about why it’s doing what it’s doing, and then moved on to showing footage of the latest Delta (production-intent) design. The company then shared some basic facts about the design, including that the car has the lowest possible drag coefficient in a usable vehicle (.13), and this allows its solar panels to produce up to 40 miles/day of true zero-emissions range.

After this introduction, Aptera played footage of the Delta design that we’ve seen before. I won’t recap that because the article I just linked to covers it pretty well.

One thing Aptera has said before is that the first batch of Apteras will all be identical, and have the same basic configuration. It chose to go this route because its advisors like CPC group, Sandy Munro, and others have been telling them that variability will kill a startup. Offering too many options too early could keep them from getting as far as offering anything at all. This isn’t a theoretical concern, because other EV startups have bit the dust at this point.

This means no 1,000-mile cars will be made at the beginning, and that you won’t be able to choose your interior or exterior colors. But, the Launch Edition cars will come with 400 miles of theoretical range, all-wheel drive, and a full complement of solar cells, so it’s not all bad news.

Another feature Aptera revealed is that the vehicle will come with an aluminum belly pan. This is important because it won’t get destroyed should you scrape it on something, and aluminum is still a good conductor for the integrated battery cooling the belly pan will have built-in.

While many are happy with their decision that the car will have a Tesla/NACS charging connector, there’s some bad news: the Launch Edition will not be able to rapid charge. It will only have Level 2 charging from the factory. But, this is only a temporary problem, as you’ll be able to get it upgraded for Supercharging (and other networks via adapters), and later Aptera vehicles after Launch Edition will have support for rapid charging from the factory.

Thus it is for early adopters, sometimes. If waiting for an upgrade to DCFC is a deal-breaker, you can still put in a reservation (save $30 using our referral code), but don’t opt for the Launch Edition!

That having been said, Aptera does share some information that makes living with L2 for now not look so bad. With the 6.6 kW onboard charger, a 240 volt station will add 57 miles per hour, and even a lowly 110 volt charging session (from a normal US wall socket) would add 13 miles per hour. Depending on how much you want to drive in a day and what kind of highway range this vehicle gets, that might be good enough for some road trips.

The final design has 32 cubic feet of cargo space in the hatch behind the driver and passenger, almost like a little pickup bed. The space is 47″ wide, 70″ long, and 22″ tall. Under the floor is a small “cargo bunk” with 1/2 a cubic foot of volume. The floor is equipped with tie-downs to keep cargo from flying around, and there’s a subwoofer on the passenger’s side (if you buy the Launch Edition or other versions with premium sound).

The Launch Edition will come with the Codex interior (grey and white, mostly). Aptera shows that the layout includes air vents, airbags, a small glove box, the center screen, center enclosed storage, cup holders with a cork base, and a steering wheel that’s somewhere between a yoke and a steering wheel (and it has a turn signal stalk). There are cameras for the rear view and side views, and sun visors.

The final cell count for the solar system produces 700 watts peak (probably less in less-than-ideal conditions).

More Feature Talk

After the introductory segment where Aptera shows off the final design and features that will be included in the Launch Edition, they start talking about production.

As the company has discussed before (and we mention above), the Launch Edition vehicles will all be in the same configuration. This helps the company get production going for the first run a lot faster, and lets it gain some experience with its production methods to ramp up speeds later and offer more options.

Aptera then shows us the solar cells and the production/inspection methods to create cells that are not only two-axis curved, but also rugged enough to survive riding on a car for at least a decade. They’re also 50% lighter than most solar cells/panels. This allows many people to rarely or never plug the car in (if you drive like the average American).

The company also discusses the carbon-fiber structure and skin that the car is made from. This allows the already slippery car to be insanely light, further maximizing efficiency and range.

The drivetrain will also be exciting. Each of the three wheels in the launch edition will have an in-wheel hub motor, with torque vectoring enabled. This means that the computer can reduce power to one side and increase it on the other to aid in handling and traction control (not losing control in slippery conditions). These will be driven by a 42 kWh battery pack, with a “targeted range” of 400 miles per charge.

Jason Hill Talks Design

At this point, the founders yield the floor to Aptera’s chief of design for more discussion of the vehicle.

The first thing he explains is that a lot of thought went into interior design. They worked to improve ergonomics and keep everything within reach since the Alpha design we saw in 2021. It’s also a very spacious interior, despite the small look of the car. The head, leg, and hip room were all increased without losing efficiency. Seats are fully adjustable, along with the position of the steering yoke.

Like a Tesla, most vehicle controls are done via the center touchscreen display. But, critical things like the hazard switch and gear selection are available via physical buttons for safety and accessibility.

It’s also designed for safety. The outer carbon fiber shell is extremely rigid, so you’re not riding around in an egg. There are crumple zones, airbags, and other safety features you’d find on a four-wheel vehicle. There are vision assist screens, proximity sensors, and parking sensors to prevent accidents to begin with.

The exterior for the Launch Edition will be the Luna color scheme wrap over the carbon fiber. The wrap is not only faster to do, but more environmentally friendly than painting the vehicle.

In Part 2, I’ll share what the company’s founders had to say about production, as well as other topics.

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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