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The Aptera is back! Maybe.

6750 Views 104 Replies 17 Participants Last post by  ricbarbour
Searching though this forum on EV news I see the latest news is from 2013. Apparently the original inventors are attempting to bring it back. This time there is far more interest in electric vehicles so it might work. They are taking $100 deposits and have a range of options you can pre-select. According to a Google search result I found, they have over 10,000 deposits as of March 2021 and over 2500 investors. They are not taking any more investors after Dec 31 so jump now if interested. Here is their new website:

Deane
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I suppose the Piaggio Ape (pronounced A as in Awe, P as in Paul, E as in Eight) would be one of the most successful 3-wheelers. Likely there is a whole class of utilitarian 3-wheelers. Cushman made a few. Does India make their own homebrew trikes?
Well, come now, it's not a scam. It might be an unwise business decision, but they're clearly actually designing and building these things.
It's not an outright fiction, but that doesn't make it a legitimate business. A lot of people can make a lot of money from an exercise in collecting investor funds and spending them without any real intention to produce a vehicle. Startups go under, but I don't think many of the people involved in them come out broke after collecting salaries and selling products and services to those startups. The difference between a legitimate business at the startup phase and a scam can be hard to see from outside.

I'll still give the Aptera people the benefit of the doubt as assume incompetence and poor judgement rather than fraud.

That said, while I'd be a bit defensive towards someone being endlessly shat on for their own build, no one here is from Aptera and, it's a company that doesn't have a great track record. Criticism is part of commentary, this isn't kindergarten. It's a fair discussion to have.
I agree.
They have a solid product. And there seems to be a lot of demand for it. And their price point $20,000 to $30,000 seems reasonable both for consumers, and what they likely could build it for (components, labor, etc). It really isn't that big of a car. There will be issues that a startup company will have that a more established company would be able to deal with.

They had some issues with the X-Prize competition, but that was a decade ago with several major revisions since then. I think their car had an affinity for cones, and I think at some point a door flew open, although I can't find all of the old videos.

They still have some production hurdles and regulatory hurdles to go through. Hopefully nothing is insurmountable, and they have been planning for any regulatory issues.

The video above was only the final assembly facility. If they have all the parts and subcomponents lined up, it should move through pretty quickly. But they didn't show any forming and finishing of the body panels, or any heavy welding and machining which seems to be planned for offsite.

There certainly will be something that doesn't go smoothly.

If it was me, I'd choose an incremental production model. Plan a largely manual process that could crank out say 1 or 2 cars a day. Then slowly increase automation and fix bottlenecks, rather than their apparent plan to simply flip a switch one day and be producing a car every few minutes.

Undoubtedly, once a few cars get distributed in the public, more issues will pop up.
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It's no longer reasonable when you can get a Bolt EV for $27k. Back when they started out, they were an economical electrically-powered mobility solution. A decade later?

Dinosaurs go extinct because they are no longer adapted to their changed environment.

Going back to 2012, yeah, ok.

2023? Not with Bolt, not with Tesla starting to make noise about a $25k Model 2 now....both are CARS, both sit 4 or 5 people, both pass all crash tests.
There will be a market of people who will choose the Aptera over the Bolt.

This push for vehicle efficiency shouldn't be entirely forgotten.
This push for vehicle efficiency shouldn't be entirely forgotten.
The Aptera is the most INEFFICIENT vehicle
It is a two seater that uses just a little less energy than a 5 seater
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The Aptera is the most INEFFICIENT vehicle
It is a two seater that uses just a little less energy than a 5 seater
The Teslas get somewhere around 4 miles per kWh.
The Aptera gets around 10 miles per kWh.

So, about 2.5x more distance per kWh.

A car capable of carrying 4 people only can count on that efficiency if it is actually full of the driver + 3 passengers. However, a lot of driving in the USA is just a single driver and no passengers. A "High Occupancy Vehicle" is generally defined as the driver plus a single passenger.

Aptera seems to think the car can make up a significant amount of range simply parking the built in solar panel in the sun.

The vehicle really depends on one's needs. A commuter to work, and it'll be just fine.

Family car, and it may be pushing it a bit. I would think they could add tiedowns for infant and toddler seats in the back, but apparently it hasn't been done.
The Teslas get somewhere around 4 miles per kWh.
The Aptera gets around 10 miles per kWh.

So, about 2.5x more distance per kWh.

A car capable of carrying 4 people only can count on that efficiency if it is actually full of the driver + 3 passengers. However, a lot of driving in the USA is just a single driver and no passengers. A "High Occupancy Vehicle" is generally defined as the driver plus a single passenger.

Aptera seems to think the car can make up a significant amount of range simply parking the built in solar panel in the sun.

The vehicle really depends on one's needs. A commuter to work, and it'll be just fine.

Family car, and it may be pushing it a bit. I would think they could add tiedowns for infant and toddler seats in the back, but apparently it hasn't been done.
The Aptera does get 2.5 times as far per kWh
AT A MUCH MUCH LOWER SPEED
At the same speed its more like 30% more
Can't beat an electric bicycle for miles/kWh if ya gunna change da rulz....is that Aptera's competition, tandem e-bikes?
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The Aptera does get 2.5 times as far per kWh
AT A MUCH MUCH LOWER SPEED
At the same speed its more like 30% more
Do you have a link for the data?

We still have to wait for the official EPA rating.

Ok, here is a calculated chart for the Aptera.




As with all vehicles, the wind resistance increases as an exponential of speed. The same will be true with a Tesla or a Bolt.

From the link above:
Tesla Model 3 drag coefficient of 0.23. And Aptera? It’s said to have a drag coefficient of 0.13. Calculating in frontal area, it appears as if the Aptera still has about half the (drag coefficient) x (area) of the Tesla model 3.

So, drag alone and the Aptera will be about half of the Tesla at all speeds.

That means it is likely the Aptera will also get twice the distance per kWh as the Tesla model 3 at all speeds.
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If it loses its laminar flow due to bug guts like laminar flow aircraft wings do, Duncan may not be far off.

There are scientists, who'll polish the crap out of something to write a paper or brag, then there are engineers who build stuff to work under real world conditions, and build more that one rigged copy.
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If it loses its laminar flow due to bug guts like laminar flow aircraft wings do
I'll have to remember that one. Car won't work due to bug guts on the windshield.

Wind resistance isn't something that should be ignored, and every manufacture is taking steps to reduce it. Even big truck manufacturers. Aptera has taken a unique approach to reducing wind resistance. Not all the choices I would have made, but they have some solid ideas.
It's just an airplane fuselage with a taildragger undercarriage. If you look at it closely, it resembles a widened and truncated Dragonfly Mk-I.

🤦‍♂️ The car will work, but that drag coefficient everyone keeps citing goes out the window when the laminar flow gets tripped...that's the point you are missing when pointing a finger @Duncan's numbers.

Early homebuilts like the Dragonfly


would almost fall out of the sky due to bug guts, even rain, messing up the low drag laminar flow.
The odd thing is that I'm not seeing a lot of empirical data.

There would be a lot of benefits of scaling up to a full, low volume production. So rather than having a single prototype to haul around to car shows, they'd be getting dozens of the cars out on the streets. Perhaps driven by employees. Or, a few being sold to some customers willing to share comments back with the company.
I'll have to remember that one. Car won't work due to bug guts on the windshield.

Wind resistance isn't something that should be ignored, and every manufacture is taking steps to reduce it. Even big truck manufacturers. Aptera has taken a unique approach to reducing wind resistance. Not all the choices I would have made, but they have some solid ideas.
No Aptera is NOT making a sensible design for low drag!!!
Aptera has made something that looks like a low drag machine to somebody that knows a little about aerodynamics

I was at that level of knowledge before I ended up helping a local High School with its Solar Racer (we won twice)

At that point I did a bit of study about the subject

The key thing to remember is that IF you can make an actual "streamlined" object where the streamlines join up again THEN the frontal area becomes irrelevant - at that point drag is proportional to "wetted area"

This means that the basic SHAPE of the Aptera is wrong!!!
Which is why actual real world low drag machines like Solar Racers are a single shape - not three separate shapes like the Aptera

This is our "Solar Stealth" - back in 1999 - just a High School project showing massively GREATER understanding of aerodynamics than the Aptera

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No Aptera is NOT making a sensible design for low drag!!!
Aptera has made something that looks like a low drag machine to somebody that knows a little about aerodynamics

I was at that level of knowledge before I ended up helping a local High School with its Solar Racer (we won twice)

At that point I did a bit of study about the subject

The key thing to remember is that IF you can make an actual "streamlined" object where the streamlines join up again THEN the frontal area becomes irrelevant - at that point drag is proportional to "wetted area"

This means that the basic SHAPE of the Aptera is wrong!!!
Which is why actual real world low drag machines like Solar Racers are a single shape - not three separate shapes like the Aptera

This is our "Solar Stealth" - back in 1999 - just a High School project showing massively GREATER understanding of aerodynamics than the Aptera
Ok, drag calculation:



Ok, let's ignore air density.

And we get the drag is proportional to the drag coefficient x frontal area x velocity squared.

Your solar racer has characteristics of a center bubble, low and flat, and maximizing the solar panel size.

Aptera, instead chose side-by side seating and a voluminous cabin area. They could have chosen a double bubble roof shape like the Abarth. But rather their egg shaped roof may well be much stronger. The solar cells were a recent addition and largely an afterthought, not intended for primary propulsion.

I'm not sure inline seating like the Messerschmitt KR200 would have sold. People like conventional seating in a vehicle, as well as conventional doors and entry.

The three wheel pods simply add the drag x area, and are more efficient than enveloping the body around them. Likewise the teardrop struts have minimal additional drag.

Anyway, the car does have compromises generally related to driver/passenger comfort. But overall its drag is lower than any production cars.


The link above puts the Aptera Cd*A = 0.27 m2, or 2.94 square feet. Lower than any production vehicle noted on Wikipedia including the very low production Volkswagen XL1.
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Ok, drag calculation:



Ok, let's ignore air density.

And we get the drag is proportional to the drag coefficient x frontal area x velocity squared.

Your solar racer has characteristics of a center bubble, low and flat, and maximizing the solar panel size.

Aptera, instead chose side-by side seating and a voluminous cabin area. They could have chosen a double bubble roof shape like the Abarth. But rather their egg shaped roof may well be much stronger. The solar cells were a recent addition and largely an afterthought, not intended for primary propulsion.

I'm not sure inline seating like the Messerschmitt KR200 would have sold. People like conventional seating in a vehicle, as well as conventional doors and entry.

The three wheel pods simply add the drag x area, and are more efficient than enveloping the body around them. Likewise the teardrop struts have minimal additional drag.

Anyway, the car does have compromises generally related to driver/passenger comfort. But overall its drag is lower than any production cars.


The link above puts the Aptera Cd*A = 0.27 m2, or 2.94 square feet. Lower than any production vehicle noted on Wikipedia including the very low production Volkswagen XL1.
You again do NOT NOT NOT understand the aerodynamics of very low drag shapes!!!

That simple equation works very well in the regime of high or medium drag shapes where the biggest contributor is "Form Drag"

It is completely USELESS and simply not used at all in the regime of low drag "streamlined" shapes

If you can make a shape such that the "streamlines" join up at the back without separation then there is NO "form drag" - this is the area where things like aircraft wings operate

If you are in that zone then the frontal area becomes totally irrelevant -

The Aptera by having effectively three shapes instead of one manages to reduce the frontal area - which does not buy them ANYTHING
And which is worse makes actually having a "streamlined" shape completely impossible due to the interactions where the three shapes come together

I can understand where you are coming from - I had exactly the same understanding - BEFORE I actually studied the subject

Again the Aptera is exactly what somebody with a small amount of knowledge of Aerodynamics thinks a car should look like
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There will be a market of people who will choose the Aptera over the Bolt.
And no evidence that it will be of a size that will make Aptera financially viable. The examples given for three wheelers prove my point...BMW? Polaris? Three wheelers outside tuk-tuks and delivery/work trikes in Asia are NOTHING in the West.

In the future, when someone reads this thread after Aptera is most obviously bankrupt, they will wonder how some could ever be so willingly delusional about a product that had no viable pathway to scale.
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How many will it take to make Aptera viable?

10,000 cars a year? That would be about 30 cars a day. The first couple of years they could sell that out pretty quickly.

Their problem will be long term. After the first 500,000 people buy a new one, will they still have more sales?

Will they be able to break into the European market?

Will they design a 4 seat version? Will they give up on the 3 wheel concept and move to 4 wheels? Wide/Narrow track?

Ultimately a shift from gas and diesel to renewables over the next few decades will be a big benefit for small EV companies.

I'm still waiting for them to build their first 100 semi-production cars to decide which direction they'll ultimately go in.
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As of May, 2022, Aptera had 22,000 preorders for $100.


Likely more by now.

If half of the people actually purchase a car, that'll be a good start.
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