• Feb 1st 2010 at 4:07PM
  • 17
It would appear as though earlier speculation about Aptera's co-founders being ousted is somewhat closer to the truth than what we may have been lead to believe. In their latest newsletter, the company acknowledges that Steve Fambro and Chris Anthony will no longer be involved in day-to-day operations though, it states both will "continue to guide the company direction from their positions as board members." After reading through the many threads at the unofficial Aptera Forum that give the distinct impression that the departures may have been more than just a little acrimonious, we can only wonder how much that "guidance" will be appreciated or even followed.

Fans of the actual product (it's all about the very slick 2e, remember?) can only hope that the political wrangling will soon be water under the bridge and the staff situation stabilized. Well, except for the VP of manufacturing position. The holder of that post will also be joining the ex-Aptera-employees club as, according to the newsletter, David Oakley has also decided to step down to "pursue a similar position with another firm." OK, can we move on from the politics now?

Proving that he is more about looking out the windshield than in the rear-view mirror, the talented Mr. Fambro has been making good use of the free time on his hands. According to a few statements made at the aforementioned online forum, he's gone back into the garage (and a lab and a small office in an undisclosed location) and has begun tinkering again. He is being somewhat tight-lipped about his new project but has let slip that, "it's in the cleantech space, involves nano-composites, aerodynamics......um...that's about it. I wonder what it could be?" We're wondering too. If you care to venture a guess, hit us up in the comments section which follows a copy of the latest Aptera newsletter after the break.

[Source: Aptera / Aptera Forum | Source Image: emdot - C.C. License 2.0]



The beginning of 2010 brought changes to the Aptera management team and new advancements in the product. Take a read and find out more.

Aptera founder to lead from the boardroom while pursuing new ventures

Steve Fambro

Our visionary leader Steve Fambro, who first conceived Aptera in his garage and, along with (co-founder) Chris Anthony, launched the company into public view, will leave the day to day operations as CTO and head of Advanced Concepts to rededicate his time and attention toward pushing new and breakthrough technology.

"With the team of tech innovators and automotive management that (co-founder) Chris Anthony and I have gathered, I'm confident Aptera is well-positioned to complete the job that lies ahead," said Fambro

"I have many other 'efficient' ideas that I would like to develop and I intend to refocus my time on bringing those ideas to life... All I can say now is stay tuned."

Fambro and Anthony will continue to guide the company direction from their positions as board members. "Steve is our founder," said Aptera CEO Paul Wilbur. "Without the vision that he and Chris had when they started Aptera, we would not be standing at the doorstep of automotive history. We value their continued support."


David Oakley steps down
David Oakley, Aptera's VP of manufacturing, stepped down at the end of 2009 to pursue a similar position with another firm. "It was a difficult decision, but it was an opportunity that I couldn't just pass up," said Oakley.

Everybody at Aptera is sorry to see Dave go. His team has laid the groundwork for Aptera's manufacturing plan and processes. He also served as the technical and process lead for the commercialization of our composite body system, including the development of the Energetx supply relationship. We are now just days away from taking delivery of our first design-intent 2-series body from Energetx.

Thanks Dave and best wishes.

Tech talk from the engineering desk: Chassis

The Aptera 2e chassis is designed from the ground up with a focus on overall vehicle efficiency ... without sacrificing the performance you expect from your vehicle.

To begin (with the part you know), the 3-wheel architecture minimizes mechanical losses, minimizes total chassis weight and helps enable the excellent aerodynamic characteristics of the 2-series vehicles. The steering system (here comes the new stuff), suspension geometry and low overall vehicle weight enable the use of a manual steering system, which allow the Aptera to conserve the energy that is typically used in a power system while still providing a confident steering feel. The steering system and suspension geometry are designed to provide a crisp linear response to the driver's inputs, resulting in driving dynamics that feel very natural and predictable. Simultaneously, these new features act to make the vehicle relatively insensitive to road surface variations, road crown and surface inconsistencies like potholes.

While we're confident you will easily become preoccupied with carving corners in your Aptera, we do realize that, at some point in time, you will have to stop. For those rare buzz-killing moments, the brake system has been sized and designed to provide superior stopping power even before the introduction of powertrain regeneration. So when the manual brake system is combined with the 2e's powertrain regen strategy - you have a brake system that has throw-your-eyes-out-of-your-head stopping power, as well as confident pedal feel. All of this while conserving the energy that would be consumed by a typical power brake system. Then when you supplement our low brake drag design with nifty items, such as low rolling resistance automotive tires, you get an integrated chassis that is focused on efficiency without sacrificing performance....Yeah, I bet you didn't know that brakes could sound so good.

The next critical area for the chassis design is performance for ride, handling and noise-vibration-and-harshness (NVH). This starts with packaging front and rear sub-structures that allow for large amounts of total vertical wheel travel, or as they say in engineering speak: jounce and rebound. Next we add tire sizes, tire constructions and tire chemical compounds that don't just provide low rolling resistance, but also help manage the loads and forces going into the vehicle while keeping the vehicle connected to the road.

In the front, the suspension design is a short spindle SLA with a rocker arm. (Bet you can't say that 3 times fast). This system's characteristics are designed to match harmoniously with the rear, which is a double-sided trailing arm suspension. Conceptually, the rear is similar to a sport motorcycle, but with much greater lateral stiffness. The front and rear systems are combined to provide excellent stability for cruising as well as spirited driving.

The next piece in the equation is tuning, and ours delivers confidence on two levels. First, the chassis decouples the modes of pitch and bounce that are typical when driving on uneven roads. This allows the vehicle to breath over undulations feeling subtle and refined. Second, the vehicle's ride characteristics minimize noises and tactile feedback that the driver would typically detect when crossing road separations, potholes or other rough surfaces. In short, it feels and sounds just like you would expect from your car.

Of course, all of this good stuff did not come easy. The chassis system was designed using a total systems approach that started with the packaging of structures that work without compromise to vehicle performance. We then managed road inputs to the vehicle and, finally, optimized the entire system for vehicle efficiency. We put more than a few computers into ICU in our analysis with computer models ranging from (engineering) first principles based calculations, to multi-body dynamic model and finite element component optimization. All of this was used to cascade the system design down to the components - including every chassis nut and bolt. Using our pre-production prototypes we have validated our chassis designs for total system performance. By using these early vehicles as development workhorses, we have continued to refine our base system, and we will continue to do more as we get into this next build series.

If you didn't get it by now, we are really proud of our chassis. We expect that you will be too.


Xprize Update: Aptera passes first tech deliverable

Aptera logo horizontal
Earlier this month the Aptera Team received word that we had passed the first Technical Deliverable in the Xprize competition. The first and second technical deliverables are high level reviews by the Xprize judges of the vehicle's fundamental technology systems. In these reviews, high levels of scrutiny are placed on safety and control systems to ensure that all competitors are putting the well-being of the occupants as first priority.

The judges for the technical evaluations are tough and knowledgeable, but we like it that way. So far we are among the teams to pass gate one. Technical Deliverable-2 is the next gate and we are pulling that trigger now. We'll get further information to you as soon as we have it. In the mean time, take a look at the body of what will be our competition vehicle

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      if he is smart he might be working on something like my concept www.zev.dk
      it's cheaper to make, easier, faster, more cargo space, same passanger count, much more efficient. so easy he could beat the aptera to market.
      if his ousting made him wealthy there is no telling what he is working on. maybe a small personal flyer, maybe even a flying car like my concept above but a single seater version with a lifting body and a ducted push prop behind the reclined driver.
      it could work.
      but often time second efforts are not that interesting. might be quite boring.
      maybe a speed record attempt.

      should be interesting to see what Eberhard is working on with VW but I have no high hopes for that either.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It'll improve rigidity alright, but the benefit isn't that great.
        A better approach would be to stiffen the shell with internal ribs and stringers. At least two nice beefy side rails to carry the load, laterally reinforced by a front and rear bulkhead.

        The cross member behind the motors seems superfluous, btw.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "We" because I'm certainly not the only one with an education in the mechanical engineering field to tell you that your ideas are either unrealistic or impractical for the task at hand.

        But whatever. You've made it clear that you don't need to listen to anyone else because you know everything.
        • 5 Years Ago

        THIS is your "electric car"?

        NO internal structural reinforcements. Rigid like a wet noodle.
        Swing axle suspension. Oh god. And on the front too.
        Bicycle tires. And you want to go 150km/h on those? Well, at least the camber changes from the swing axle suspension is a minor concern now I guess.

        I like the design though, nice clean lines. Aerodynamics -look- good, though that is hard to determine without some CFD or wind tunnel work.

        Look, I applaud your dedication to weight reduction and the effort to actually build it, but this is an electric car only in the widest sense of the word.
        It's barely more than an electrified velomobile. A nice project for hobbyists, though even as such it needs a bunch of improvements. But you know, if that is what you had called it, that'd be alright

        But to go and proclaim this as a commerciably viable everyday vehicle, superior to the current crop of electric cars, is laughable.

        The OS motor controller looks good, as do the rest of IT works you've posted, but please, PLEASE, just like we mechanical engineering types listen to electrical engineers and IT people regarding those subjects, you should listen when we tell you about stuff we know better than you.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I'd like you to respond to at least the sandwich floor aspect. I think you owe me that.
        would it make it rigid? were you wrong to assume it had to be limp?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Neil, yes I've seen the edison2 and commended them on their good choices and suggested changes for the less than ideal choices. they erroneously concluded that electric drive was misguided and somehow convinced themselves that gas drive was more viable. I think the wheels could be narrower, more elegant fenders. it doesn't have trunk space. unfortunate headlight pits, maybe they plan cover glass. and the car could be styled for more appeal.
        I don't know that it uses the same suspension. how do you know? from the pictures it looks like solid axle suspension or no suspension.
        I have suggested they use my design and they are free to. but a lot of humans suffer from not my idea syndrome.
        but it's close to right. I think the ultralight inline 2 outboard 4 is a great vehicle for commuting as it's so lean it hardly uses energy compared to normal cars, it's fast, it's cheap, so it can rapidly transition the world, both poor and rich countries to CO2 free mobility. combined with a family car like the GM ultralite concept or Solectria sunrise of similar lean philosophy, we can have this global warming problem licked in no time. total ban on "SUV"s and require a license for a truck so retards stop buying them for personal transportation. would be nice if Obama grew a spine and started an information campaign to bring certain people up to speed. for instance state out right that if you drive a hummer you are thoughtless.
        and a swift kick in the pants for big auto so they make cars like inline 2 or solectria sunrise that are actually energy efficient. not just the overengineered overweight Volt which has only symbolic value in the war against global warming.
        you can write me an email on the site about the software.
        • 5 Years Ago
        you come in blazing with thoughtless criticism and you blame me for calling you on it. the poor attitude is yours
        • 5 Years Ago
        are you borg? who are 'we'? speak for yourself.

        I haven't said that it has to be produced exactly as is. if there is money I would have those plastic blade airless wheels made for it. pneumatic wheels are so primitive. and heavy.

        as for rigidity, with all due respect to your 'superior' knowledge, did you consider a sandwich floor...

        I know it's very different from what you are used to but please, PLEASE, take a bit of time and consider the possibility that I have given it more thought that your kneejerk reaction to something that is foreign to you.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You're of course free to ignore my suggestions, but insulting my intelligence is rather uncalled for.

        Thanks for removing any doubts concerning your attitude though.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Hi Dan,

        I'm curious what modeling program you are using? Have you seen the Edison2 "Very Light Car"? http://www.edison2.com/the-very-light-car/ It is quite similar to your design in several ways; not the least of which is the suspension and wheel layout.

        • 5 Years Ago
        don't you think my approach is more elegant and could be plenty strong?
        instead of many ribs and stringers, just clad a mold, add distance sheet to the floor and more layers of glass. through that bolts for the seats. bulkhead rear and front. no ugly ribs on the inside to hide or to glue fit. smoothh easy application of insulation and decorative fabric and foams. is it possible my solution is substantially better than what you suggest..
        is it possible you should maybe think a little bit more before you criticize.
        take another look. learn. fire those neurons
      • 5 Years Ago
      Is Aptera still involved in day-to-day activities? Are they gonna make it or are they just another EV casualty?

      • 5 Years Ago
      The end is nigh...

      Just out of curiousity: how many G's does this white elephant pull on the skid pad?
      • 5 Years Ago
      hmm... cleantech, nano-composites, aerodynamics...

      I've got it! New and improved vaporware!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Ah, in my perfect world. Steve would be developing a velomobile.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Please Mr. Fambro, whatever you do next, *no more three-wheelers*. Don't waste years of your life on vehicles that require new legislation to be legal on all streets.
      • 5 Years Ago
      btw, how about an interview with the man...
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