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What's been happening at Aptera? The hyper-aerodynamic vehicle company is still moving forward, just not as fast as the original plans called for (remember when the car was supposed to be available in 2009 2010?). In the company's latest email newsletter, much space is dedicated to explaining where thing stand with the request for money from the Department of Energy's Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program (still waiting to hear back), the development and design of the 2-series vehicles (still testing) and why Aptera hasn't sold any vehicles yet (still waiting, see ATVMLP). Here's a choice quote:

A friend asked me today, "Why don't you simply use a smaller amount of money to force some vehicles out the door and into the marketplace?" My response was, "What are you willing to give up?" At a lower investment, vehicle manufacture is much more manual in nature, so the cost of every vehicle increases significantly. (This assumes, of course, that you want quality to stay the same, because testing for durability, reliability and quality has a cost.) When you can purchase components in volume, that cost gets spread out and shared. But when you build only a few, the cost of quality drives up the price.
So to those who ask what's happening in the halls of Aptera, the answer is that we are working to secure the capital necessary to deliver the volume and quality to move the market. We would obviously love to accelerate the process, but the government has to make sure they complete their comprehensive evaluation and we have to let the process run its course.

Basically, Aptera is saying, we needs money, whether from the government or some other major investor. Without that, the wingless bird might forever remain out of reach. You can read more from the newsletter after the jump.

[Source: Aptera]
Show full PR text
Aptera Newsletter:

We Appreciate Your Support

Aptera applied to the Department of Energy's Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program in December 2008. At that time we were summarily rejected, not because the DOE didn't see value in our innovation, but because the prevailing law that defined passenger vehicles had not been altered for nearly a half century. The great news, and one of the things that makes us proud to be Americans, is that our leaders ultimately recognized that innovation can come in all shapes and sizes. So in 2009, they opened the definition to allow those of us, who take a slightly different approach to the market, to compete. And with that wind at our back, we reapplied.

Since that time, the team has continued to advance the development and design of the 2-series vehicles. The goal is to make a vehicle that is great, so we test and repeat, then test and repeat some more to confirm our results.

Over the past months, our engineering team has taken a vehicle that was challenged by error states during the X PRIZE and transformed it into a vehicle that is as robust and predictable to drive as it is attractive. Aptera's engineers won't be done making enhancements on the 2-series until we ship the first model of its successor. It is this mentality that breeds quality for Aptera.

So what is our challenge? Well, the primary hurdle is raising sufficient capital to compete in the modern automotive market. This is reality whether your name is Fisker, Tesla, Ford or Nissan. The best supporting evidence is that each of these companies, like Aptera, has applied for funds from the ATVM Loan program. Both industry and government alike have realized that capital is needed to sponsor the kind of innovation that will lead this country forward.

A friend asked me today, "Why don't you simply use a smaller amount of money to force some vehicles out the door and into the marketplace?" My response was, "What are you willing to give up?" At a lower investment, vehicle manufacture is much more manual in nature, so the cost of every vehicle increases significantly. (This assumes, of course, that you want quality to stay the same, because testing for durability, reliability and quality has a cost.) When you can purchase components in volume, that cost gets spread out and shared. But when you build only a few, the cost of quality drives up the price.

So to those who ask what's happening in the halls of Aptera, the answer is that we are working to secure the capital necessary to deliver the volume and quality to move the market. We would obviously love to accelerate the process, but the government has to make sure they complete their comprehensive evaluation and we have to let the process run its course.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 65 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Naive, Naive, Naive. Unaware. Stupid comments from some of you who are either unable to see the most obvious facts or are shills for other's trying to steer the money to oil companies.
      1. No private investors know anything about running a car company and the $$ are so high that not one of them would invest or would be allowed by their CPA's to invest. So your comments about "go get $$ from investors" is ludicris. ONLY the government can pay for a car company. PERIOD.
      2. Gasloline cars cause cancer. The fumes from filling you car cause cancer. Every university has proven this. The government OWES the American people electric cars for giving them cancer by previously susidizing the oil companies.
      3. Those who say don't give the electric car companies $$ are causing terrorism and are, by attachment, terrorists themselves. You cause us to get oil from unstable countries by your remarks. If you are republicans you are the cause of terrorism by saying those things. I you are Democrats you are the cause of global warming and dead trees and cancer by saying no $$ from feds for electric cars.

      So shut up until you know what you are talking about.
      bajohn3
      • 4 Years Ago
      It's an ugly, weird, impractical 3 wheeled freak show that will never catch on in any volume. Can't imagine why it's a massive fail. It doesn't have to be that way either:
      http://ephase.blogspot.com/2010/12/more-bang-for-buck.html
        bajohn3
        • 4 Years Ago
        @bajohn3
        3 wheeled vehicles have not sold well and I don't think that will ever change. People want 4 wheels, or 2. You can make a very small city car with 4 wheels, look at the Smart, or the Tango. In a city car aero isn't even that important.
        bajohn3
        • 4 Years Ago
        @bajohn3
        I kind of think the Tango is cute, and though it may look unstable such a high percentage of it's weight is so low they are indeed very stable. Since it is so narrow it's cd may not be great but cdA is. The Persu is interesting but does nothing to address my point that 3 wheelers never sell in volume. I understand that as an individual you might want it but the general public does not.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @bajohn3
        If you are aiming for low air drag in two-seater you just HAVE TO build it as tandem seater. Cut the width of the car to less than half. Reduce A in CdA to less than half. That way you could make it much lighter too, because you don't need to build as strong structure to hold the center weight.

        Tandem-seater Aptera could have been nice niche car, not this impractical aerodynamic Hummer with just two seats.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @bajohn3
        Yes, but that commutercar lacks the looks and aerodynamics. It is just plain ugly and it looks like it is going to trip over any minute. I would prefer something like this: http://www.persumobility.com/
        • 4 Years Ago
        @bajohn3
        Three-wheelers could sell as city cars quite easily. You just need to make them small and sell them as fun urban commuters. Being small is the key here. Small enough to be somewhere between motorcycle and tiny car. If it is small and fun it gains practicality from easiness of parking and agility in parking lots. Perfect vehicle for grocery shopping. Maybe even register it as motorcycle, not as a car.

        Being gigantic like Aptera wont sell.

        Imagine tandem-seater aeroplane cockpit-like three-wheeler with CdA that no car can ever achieve with compact Tesla Model S -like electric drivetrain and high-power batteries. "Car" with way less than 1000 pounds weight and more than 300HP and torque that rivals big V8 engines. That would be a road rocket. Gives entirely new meaning for "city car".
        bajohn3
        • 4 Years Ago
        @bajohn3
        The point is that weird looking vehicles like this, including tandem seating, will never be more than niche vehicles, therefor will never have much impact and certainly should not be supported by any public funding. As per my link efficient vehicles do not have to be weird vehicles that the public won't buy. The LEAF could double it's range if it were built like the Solectria Sunrise and still be a nice looking practical vehicle with room for 4-5 people. That would sell, three wheelers will not, never have, never will.
        bajohn3
        • 4 Years Ago
        @bajohn3
        It still doesn't have to be a 3 wheeler. You don't get much smaller than this, and it has 4 wheels and can do highway speeds: http://www.commutercars.com/
        • 4 Years Ago
        @bajohn3
        The aerodynamics may not be as important, but CdA -- width -- certainly is. Parking is a huge issue, and one that tandems would go a long way towards helping. Timo makes some excellent points.
      • 4 Years Ago
      They should have sold small scale ... dozens a year if need be ... then ramped up if demand warranted it ... they hired and trusted old school hacks ... they made very costly mistakes ... and now they are paying for it... as those same old school hacks keep running them further into the ground each month.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The Aptera CdA of 2.11 was the number Aptera released in 2009 for the first production intent model ... if I recall correctly ... it was part of the first small batch of test vehicles produced from the first small factory they put together ... before scrapping the 1st factory and trying to scale up ... I do not recall Aptera releasing any updated CdA numbers sense then.

        It was part of a graphic they published comparing the Aptera's Aerodynamics vs other vehicles.

        Weather you can trust Aptera or GM or Ford or any other company to give you accurate information is of course a judgment call you have to make ... but until some 3rd party coughs up the $$$ to do professional wind tunnel tests ... you either trust their numbers, or make your own guesses.

        I found a link to the graph I was referring to here:
        http://www.greenbiz.com/images/090326-aptera-chart-big.jpg

        The released weight spec if you read carefully is not 1,500 flat ... that is the low end weight for the base vehicle ... the 1,800 number I read was the expected average weight of the different configurations... but if it makes you feel better , feel free to compare the 1,500 pound low end Aptera to the 2,908 pound low end EV1.

        No matter how you slice it Aptera weighs less than the EV1 ... it has better aerodynamics than the EV1 ... is it perfect ... no way ... far from it ... but it is significantly more energy efficient than the EV1 ever was... EV1 has been outdated tech for many years... it is not the icon some people try to make it out to be... it was good for it's day ... but that day is long sense gone.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Mercedes' Bionic boxfish meets Fuller's Dymaxion. I like it.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The frontal area of the Aptera is under 20 sq ft so the CdA is under 3 sq ft.

        http://apteraforum.com/showpost.php?p=27106&postcount=86
        http://www.apteraforum.com/showpost.php?p=30176&postcount=16

        It is wide, but that doesn't make the area as big as a Hummer.

        Neil
        • 4 Years Ago
        I started to wonder why I get so much different result than you, and noticed that your pictures do not match released specs in height. You have nearly half a feet missing from height of the car. Maybe some distortion of the picture. It should be over 20 sq ft, not under. In other words your "square feet" is bigger than real square feet.

        I'm a bit curious what program you used for calculating those numbers. I could use a program that allows estimating area like that one.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Just for fun I made an estimate of Aptera CdA based on dimensions and picture of the frontal area. CdA (in square meters) is around 0,35. Pretty good actually. About same as GM EV1. That passenger part of the car is smaller than I expected, even that this car has external dimensions of Hummer. Compared to Prius 0.56 it is good, but not good enough as excuse for that odd shape.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Problem with Aptera aerodynamics CdA is A not the Cd. That car has dimensions of Hummer, so CdA is still poor even that Cd is good which is not good for two-seater. With those dimensions it should be at least four-seater to be anywhere close to practical. Tesla Roadster probably has better CdA even that it has much worse Cd, because A is so much better, not to mention several other low and small sport cars. I bet it is nowhere close to GM EV1.

        Your car is much better in practicality, Aptera is just disaster.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @NeilBlanchard

        That 20 sq ft is a number I don't trust. It means that entire car would be just 134 * 134 cm. If you look at the front of the car the passenger section alone is about 180 x 120 square with just rounded corners. That alone is more than released number. Add there two 30 cm wide and nearly 50 cm high tire cases and you are well over the released number.

        Maybe Mk1 was this small, but that Mk2e definitely is not. Mk0 and Mk1 had better Cd than this current model, so I can believe about that number being accurate for it.
        • 4 Years Ago
        according to published numbers
        EV1 CdA = 3.95
        Aptera CdA = 2.11 ( ~87% better Aerodynamics )

        EV1 PbA = 3,086 Lbs
        EV1 NiMH = 2,908 Lbs
        Aptera = 1,800 Lbs ( ~61% lighter = ~61+% less rolling resistance )

        Whatever aesthetics appeal to your eye ... the shape of the Aptera appeals to the aerodynamic eye and efficiency eye.

        The vehicle design is not the issue ... it is incompetent upper management... which is sad ... but the reality... the guidance and leadership they are paying good money for , is incompetent.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I agree, having Apteras out on the roads would have been their best (and only?) chance at selling cars. The Cd on the final product is around 0.15, which totally trumps anything out there today. If they could have lowered the weight, rather than raising it, then the front wheels could have been narrowed somewhat.

        I was an early and enthusiastic follower of the Aptera, but as things went from bad to worse, I decided to design my own super aerodynamic electric car:

        http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/2010/09/carben-ev-open-source-project-part-3.html

        My CarBEN EV seats five people, and should have a Cd similar to the Aptera, too. The windshield comes from a Smart ForTwo, and it is less than 14' long. I'm hoping to build a 1/4 scale model soon.

        Neil
        • 4 Years Ago
        Where did you find Aptera CdA? I did try to search it, but all I can find is Cd, not CdA. Calculating frontal area and multiplying with Cd (that's how you get CdA), I got my number, which has to be pretty close to real number. It definitely is very close to EV1 numbers, not just bit over half of it.

        Because EV1 Cd is 0.19 and Aptera has 0.15 difference between those is just 26%. That means that Aptera should have another about 60% smaller frontal area than EV1 to reach those numbers you posted. It doesn't.

        I don't entirely trust the Aptera "released specs", they seem to change from page to page somewhat. Even that number you posted for weight is different than "released specs" number which is just 1500lbs.
      • 4 Years Ago
      hey john,
      thanks for that link. http://ephase.blogspot.com/2010/12/more-bang-for-buck.html

      What is it about this picture.
      It looks like a white turd on 3 wheels. I'm finished defending this nonsense.
      • 4 Years Ago
      There was a time when I was extremely eager to have an Aptera. I even signed up for a pre-order and put my money down -- that was in 2007.

      Since then, they've seemed to drift day by day further away from delivering a vehicle.
        • 4 Years Ago
        They've spent far too much time tweaking the design and far too little time planning for production. Admittedly, their 2e is better looking than the original Type1, but the way things are going they will be on model 3 or 4 before starting production!

        They've got to learn to "lock down" the design and start production, and leave the improvements for the next model. Tesla did, that's why they've got over 1500 Roadsters out - and 2 improved Roadster models to boot!
      • 3 Years Ago
      What happened to the Aptera? The new CEO ousted the two founders. He then told engineering to redo the entire design. From simple belt-driven rear-wheel power, to transaxle-driven front wheel drive. Made the body taller and wider for big Americans. Made the windows roll down so you could go through a drive through. Cupholders. Added mirrors instead of the camera to see behind. Added a lot of weight. And cost. So the car became fat, obese, complex, and thousands of dollars more expensive - from 21 to 28 grand. And the company lost years of market access, ran out of money, never delivered the cars, never go federal funding. And the Aptera popped a door open and almost tipped over during a slalom run in front of evvverrryone watching. Which it wouldn't have done if he hadn't turned it from a shark into a walrus so fat people could fit in with their Big Macs.
        • 3 Years Ago
        The Catbeller broke it down perfect! 'Nuff said..
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'd never have guessed!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Ha! Yeah, I also never would have guessed that they'd fall into exactly the same chicken-and-egg trap that pretty much everyone who's recently tried to start an auto manufacturer has faced.
        They had a chance to build a very basic high mileage niche vehicle with a tiny but fanatical base and hopefully generate enough money to improve it over time, but instead they hired a bunch of Detroit hacks who couldn't imagine doing things differently. Now they are in the same cul-de-sac as dozens before them.
        Hopefully Tesla's outside contracts and government loan gets them through this awkward adolescence.
        • 4 Years Ago
        If only they had the business smarts of Carbon and Tesla...
        • 4 Years Ago
        Aptera has ultimately come to the realization that becoming a vehicle manufacturer is much harder than it looks and requires far more investment than it seems!
      • 4 Years Ago
      The Aptera is an intriguing design, and I'll look at one when and if they come out with a hybrid or an IC propulsion system. More bad news for the enthusiasts and those who have deposits down - but here we see the danger of dependency on government funding. The current federal deficit may end the DOE grants and loans programs - many taxpayers favor ending subsidies of various industries (banks, insurance, automotive, ethanol producers) - I'd like to make the purchase decisions myself. I think the Aptera has market potential sufficient to convince some large investor that it can make money. As time passes, more and more electrics and hybrids enter a modest-sized market, and Aptera's early advantage of fandom and innovation is eroding. Another year of inaction and I'd expect to see them close the doors.
      harlanx6
      • 4 Years Ago
      Originally I was intrigued by the design, but after so much hype and so much time I have to put it in the same file as Eestor! Too bad. I think their window of opportunity is closing.
        harlanx6
        • 4 Years Ago
        @harlanx6
        Of course you are right, Chris, but I really have given up on Aptera, that being said, Tesla surprised me.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @harlanx6
        Not quite EEStor territory, as Aptera has actually produced working prototypes and demonstrated them in public, gave test drives, and even competed in the Automotive X Prize. The only thing EEStor has made that we've seen is extravagant and questionable claims, and they haven't demonstrated diddly-squat.

        The only failure of Aptera is a failure to get into production, understandable given the current financial recession.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Aptera lost me as a customer the moment they decided to make this a front wheel drive instead of a rear wheel drive. The major reason I had to buy one was that while it gets great mileage It's also fun to drive sliding sideways through a corner once in a while only burning up 1 tire instead of two. Yes, I understand saftey reasons and even greater gains of mileage . I also understand that a front wheel drive version of this car also increases the complexity of the design and further more increased R&D cost along with longer wait to market. Really, I'd love to wring my hands around the idiot who thought it was a good idea to change this over to front wheel drive.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Front wheel drive on a 3 wheel electric car is the only way to go. By definition, the Cg must be close to the 2 wheels for stability, and if you want any regenerative braking at all, you have to do it with the front wheels.

        The step too far was the full size roll down windows, believe it or not. They required that the doors be flatter (less curved) and that required that the entire chassis be reworked.

        And the new chassis is heavier, which requires more battery, which adds even more weight, so the Cg moved away from the front wheels, resulting in the fiasco at the X-Prize.

        Neil
        bajohn3
        • 4 Years Ago
        The rear wheel drive version would have been impossible in even a small amount of snow, limiting the limited market even further. The whole thing was a bad idea from the beginning.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "When you can purchase components in volume, that cost gets spread out and shared."

      What volume?? Given it's uniqueness, this was always going to be a niche vehicle. They should have shipped the design they had (and that fans loved) when they had the chance. Instead they wasted time trying to give the car more mass appeal, pissed-off their fan/customer base, and missed their market window. Now that you can order a Nissan Leaf, how many 2e's can they really expect to sell.

      As much as I really liked Aptera, at this point, I wouldn't give them a loan since I think it would be a bad bet for the government/our tax dollars.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'd agree they are not worth it at this point. not because of small sales though but because their data at the x prize tests showed that it was not a particularly efficient vehicle. it scored about as poorly as the Tata Indica EV, a 4 seater steel car with no aerodynamics.
        if a car has to look like the aptera to be efficient I'd be cool with that but if it isn't even efficient then why..
        add to that that the management seems to be bad people.. from detroit.
        nothing worth saving from what I can tell.
        • 4 Years Ago
        With even higher efficiency it is not acceptable to general public, it still is clumsy two-seater with dimensions of a Hummer. Looks nice, but that is where it ends. It is not a practical car.
        • 4 Years Ago
        What volume?

        Probably hundreds instead of dozens. That's an order of magnitude increase!
      • 4 Years Ago
      This vehicle just isn't practical for most people. It was never going to be a big seller. They should have concentrated from day 1 on getting it made for a very low price.

      Giving them a loan to make these just to then have them not sell isn't a good move.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Mass production is important to get lower prices, but paradoxically, mass production needs a lot of money to build and equip the mass production facilities.

        One would think odd looks would limit the market too much to achieve mass market sales, but the historical evidence says otherwise. There are several examples of odd looking vehicles achieving mass market acceptance, the most notable being the original VW Beetle. Of course, there are also examples of odd looking vehicles failing in the market place, but usually the failure was caused by something else - poor reliability, poor performance, or safety issues - but odd looks didn't help.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I agree with you (mark the day!)

        They had 3000 deposits down for their very early prototype, without any of the fancy gee-gaws that make modern cars sell. If they had just gone to market with that instead of adding greatly to the complexity and expense, they might have had a chance.

        Sure 1-wheel drive would scare off some customers. Sure not having "infotainement" would scare off some. Sure only having small window opening might have put a few off. But if they had brought it to market like that, then there would be some examples on the streets, they could have established _some_ cash flow, and could have worked on a slightly more populist model with the advantage of millions of people seeing their niche-iest model on the streets.
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