In a recent interview Chris Anthony has confirmed they expect a (Northern hemisphere) summer 2024 release for the Aptera.
Today Aptera conducted a real world crash test with their gamma prototype. No injuries.
Aptera is a light, sleek, three wheeled, two seat electric auto-cycle. In most places it will be treated as a car. EVs include vehicles which aren't cars but here I'm using it as shorthand for electric cars/autocycles.
Aptera is about three times more efficient than most similar sized EVs. Driving range is between 400Klm (250mi) and 1600Klm(1000mi) depending on the model. It will come in front-wheel drive and all wheel drive versions. The AWD 0-100Klm(60MPH) time is 4 seconds. In wheel motors provide the traction. The body is made of forged carbon fibre and is extremely strong. The drag coefficient is expected to be 0.13 to 0.15.
It has built in solar panels with up to 700W power for the full solar version. This can provide up to around 65Klm/40Ml of range per day in the sun in the right conditions. It can also charge via a NACS connector of both AC and DC charging.
The cargo space is almost a cubic meter (0.9) or 32.5 CF. It can hold a surfboard or a sheet of plywood. The weight of the 1000Klm range version is listed as 820Kg/1800 lb - much lighter most passenger EVs.
The vehicle will be compatible with Comma's Open pilot drive assistance package. Aptera also embrace the "right to repair" philosophy. This is law in many places but often resisted by automakers.
The base price is listed as around $26,900 USD but may be higher by the time it reaches the market.
The first model sold, the "launch edition" is $33,000 USD.
At the time I'm writing there are about 44,000 pre-orders/reservations. I am about place 42,000 in the queue.
Reservations are $70 USD using a referral code - $100 otherwise, fully refundable if you bail out.
Prototypes - Alpha,Beta and Gamma have been built with the Delta model expected soon. Delta is the model for mass production.
Mass production is expected before the end of 2024 but is dependent on funding.
The first 2000 Aptera produced are reserved for the "accelerator program", its members are investors who have invested over $10000 USD.
The Aptera company has an interesting history and is Aptera V2.0 The first time round the joint CEOs - Steve Fambro and Chris Anthony - were forced out of the business. After the collapse of Atera V1.0 they eventually bought the IP back and tried again. Both CEOs appear to be very capable people and both started successful businesses in between leaving Aptera V1 and relaunching Aptera V2.
EVs in 2023 aren't for everyone but will become more compelling over time. In my country - Australia - many drivers would be better off making the switch now. Prices are dropping and cost saving may justify paying interest on a loan for people without the up front cash. The average driver from Oz stands to save a few grand a year in fuel alone. Good EVs require very little servicing so there are more savings to be had.
In high use cases EVs are likely to outlast ICE (internal combustion engines) several times over. EVs usually have long warranties covering batteries.
As they say "your mileage may vary" depending on your needs and what state/country you are in.
Some people like engine noise but many of us don't. We also want to reduce not only green house gas emissions also particle emission and harmful pollutants.
Some of us just want one. People like new cars even if it doesn't always make sense.
AWD is an advantage due to where I live. I bought a AWD PHEV (plug in hybrid) while waiting for a good pure EV AWD to reach the market.
Drivers who drive very little may also be better off waiting.
If your power comes from coal and is likely to stay that way - EV is not for you if your motivation is to be green.
I would not buy a pure EV if I had to rely on public chargers. Home charging is easy for most people.
Tesla is the top selling car brand in the world and make a good product. For many they are still out of reach. For me off-road capable EVs are still too expensive for the amount of use I would get out of it.
Low end EVs are still a bit pricey but total cost of ownership is likely to be cheaper the ICE cars if you make use of them. The situation is complicated because there are a bunch of incentives which vary from state to state and country to country. Some incentives come as tax credits which are useless if you don't pay tax(retirees/pensioners etc). Small EVs tend to be better value than large ones. Big EVs need big batteries and big $$. In Oz the atto3 and MG4 are under AU$40K before on road costs. If I was after a 2WD EV I'd be looking closely at the MG4. Prices and range will improve over time. The car industry is expected to look very different in the 2030s. Tesla and BYD are a fairly safe bet and maybe Rivian. I hope Aptera will be there too but they can't dominate without larger models.
It will take time before there are many good second hand EVs. Fleets are often a good source of used cars/EVs but the reliability of EVs may mean they keep them longer before selling. Unless batteries age better than we expect I doubt we will see the same number of old cars on the road as now.
Eventually most states here will probably add a road tax - probably around 2.5 cents/Klm. I don't mind the concept but it seems a little on the high side.
For EVs adding range is expensive and decreases efficiency and performance due to the extra weight. You can't save weight by partly charging the battery. I think few people would get value from a >1000Klm battery and is not good for the planet either.
Having a bit if spare capacity might make sense to stretch the battery life beyond %30 capacity loss.
For me an honest 400Klm is the minimum I'll accept - 600-800 would be ideal.
Actual range will differ from the stated range - possible by quite a margin. Many things will decrease range. Different testing methods will also give different results.
For me the highway driving range is what is important. For city driving you should not be too far from a charger. It is long distance driving where chargers are a long way apart. If accurate range per charge is important then don't assume you will get the range the manufacturer has stated. Many EVs will have independent range tests results online (try you-tube).
At the time I write this - driving in remote regions is still a challenge. Looking at plugshare.com shows a drive from the East coast of Australia to Birdsville in Western Queensland should be possible with a 400mi/644Klm range but it is marginal. You may also be relying and very slow charging (a power point) to get you there. Bad weather or roads could see you stranded. A bigger battery would be nice for that sort of trip. A few more years and we should see the gaps in the charger networks being plugged.
abetterrouteplanner.com/ seems like a work in progress but may be of interest. I think you can do better manually.
The ATM the default Aptera settings are wrong. Registration $$$$ are needed to access all the features.
There are also phone apps for EV route planning.
Many EVs allow the accelerator pedal to also be used for braking. Lifting the foot off the pedal initially reduces motor power, lifting it further progressively applies regen. How aggressive the braking is is often adjustable. Mine has 6 settings 0-5. True one pedal driving allows one to completely stop without using the brake pedal. My PHEV needs brake for full stop.
Regen won't work when the battery is completely full. When fully charged my PHEV needs to drive about 4Klm before regen begins to work and much further to work fully.
For cooling we'll use a regular AC but heating has more options. Most budget EVs just use a resistive heater - cheap and simple but power hungry. A heat pump is more efficient - especially if waste motor heat could be used as a preheat. Another option is to run the cabin cooler and use heated seats/yoke and seat-belts.
Early Apteras are likely to have resistive heaters. Later versions may have heat pumps and heated seats.
People with no EV experience often assume you need to install and expensive charger to charge your EVs at home. This is rarely the case in places with 220V-240V power.
Charging off 110V is more of a challenge. The lower voltage only allows level-1 charging. I have no experience with this but for the same wall socket current it will be about twice as slow. Aptera need much less power/energy so level-1 may be practical when charging a less efficient EV is not.
Being in Australia I use level-2 home charging. My car came with a 8 amp "charger". Most EVs come with a charger.
I used quotes because it isn't really a charger. For level 1 and 2 the actual charger is inside the car. The external box in more of a wall socket interface. For level-3 (DC) the external charger really is a charger.
I also bought 2 level-2 chargers off ebay for about $230aus ($150USD) each. These are often power adjustable .
A standard power socket is oz is rated at 10 amps. Watts equals volts by amps - so 2.4kW of power - or 2.4 kWh per hour.
Charging is not %100 efficient so maybe 2.2 kW is stored in the battery. My PHEV gets about 5Klm per kWh. 5*2.2 is 11 so about 11Klm or about 6Ml of range per hour of charge.
Aptera on the other hand expects 17Klm per kWh or 37Klm/22Ml per hour of charge at 240V/10A.
Aptera LE (launch edition) specs are 13Ml/22Klm and 57Ml/95Klm of range per hour of charging at 110V and 240V. You won't get the latter from a standard ozzie power point.
It isn't quite that simple because charging slows down as you approach full charge.
With an overnight charge of 12 hours at 240V/10A you'd expect 126Klm/75Ml for a typical medium sized EV and 444Lkm/266Ml for an Aptera.
These are very rough numbers based my 1750KG (empty) PHEV - some EVs will do better and some will be much worse.
Regular NMC/ternary (see below) lithium batteries are usually only charged to %80 or so to extend life and running them flat is also to be avoided. Other chemistries are not so fussy.
Obviously you fully charge and discharge when you need to.
My setup is not optimal but it still takes less than 15 seconds to plug or unplug my charging cable - so plugging in frequently is less work than a weekly trip for fuel. There is no sense in running the battery flat when it is so easy to top up.
- Battery types.
This is not a complete list.
- Lithium NMC/ternary. Older and high performance EV batteries are usually of this type. Cathodes are made from nickel, cobalt, and manganese. The proportions used vary so there are many NMC types. They have good energy and power density but have a shorter cycle life than some other types and they can catch fire if mistreated.
- Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4/LFP). Slightly lower performance but have a longer cycle life and are unlikely to self ignite. They're are also cheaper.
- Lithium M3P(LiMnZnAl). Similar to LiFePO4 but with improved energy density.
- Sodium Ion. Slightly down on energy density but cheap. Sodium is cheap and abundant. Some of the chemistries are water based and non-flammable. I don't know much about them. Good at low temperatures.
Aptera is expected to use 811 NMC batteries - this means %80 Nickel, %10 Manganese and %10 Cobalt.
There are many other battery types in development. By the time a Aptera's battery needs replacing some of these may have superseded the types above. We may have practical solid state batteries, silicon anodes, Aluminum cathodes, metal/air or whatever.
Existing batteries are good - future ones will be better.
Also note type-1 J-plug and NACS are single phase only. Type 2 and CCS can handle 3 phase and charge faster.
A car that can charge itself will be great for a lot of people. About %80 of Aptera orders are for the full solar package. I'm one of the other %20.
Aptera offers up to 40miles/66Klm of sun powered charging per day with full solar. For that you need to be in a sunny area and actually park in the sun. Clouds and shade from trees and building will reduce the solar charging speed.
I park undercover whenever possible. Sun is bad for cars. Heat is bad for battery life. I prefer to use home solar to charge.
Many people don't have undercover parking and don't have cheap power - Aptera full solar may solve their charging needs.
It sounds ideal for people with 9 to 5 jobs who park in the sun near work.
It isn't quite that simple as charge rate is likely to drop as charging progresses. We might see 300K in 20Min - time will tell. Battery temperature will also play a factor. Frequent fast charging may reduce battery life.
Apart from one charge (above) I have no experience with public chargers. Where I drive most (Nimbin NSW and Brisbane Qld) chargers are far between. I would not want to be relying on them at this time. I expect things will improve massively by the end of the decade. If I had a pure EV with 600K range it would be very rare not to charge privately. Globally there are reports of unreliable networks. Some are just broken but many are deliberately vandalized. Tesla seem to have the best network. Tesla is opening up to allowing non-teslas to use their chargers but there are some wrinkles. A new consortium of seven other EV makers is planning a new network.
If you do get stuck - towing is not the only option. Roadside assistance services will often have chargers to give you a bit of range to reach a charger. If the assistance vehicle is a large EV it may be able to charge V2V (vehicle to vehicle).
Smaller private EVs may also be able to give a slow V2V charge. Many EVs will have limited AC out which may be enough for a level1 or level2 charger. A small fueled generator should also work. People have also "tow charged". This means the flat EV is towed by something else and the regen braking is used to put some charge into its battery (I'm not recommending this).
Of course with a Aptera you just need some sun. The Aptera AC output is expected to be only 600W so no V2V is possible without a separate V2G/V2V gadget.
Surprising to me was that Tesla uses CCS in other countries (CCS2 in Oz). NACS is a neat small connector which does both AC and DC charging. Its only drawback is it lacks the ability to use 3 phase AC. I don't know if it will become a global standard.
Apatera will use NACS. Assuming they use NACS on international models too and Australian charging networks don't support them - we will need to use adapters. Adapters seem to be readily available. Prices aren't outrageous. Ebay has J1772 to NACS for $40, CCS2 to NACS is $250ish. Update : Cheap adapters are likely to be banned from public chargers.
Fast charging here (Oz) can be aus30-75cents/kWh. At the high end you aren't saving much over fuel. Public AC (slower) charging is not much more than the domestic tariff and sometimes less. In Oz the "Jolt" network offers 7kWh per day for free - that's 40-50Klm on most EVs but about 110Klm for Aptera. Jolt power is also carbon free.
Idle charges are also being introduced. Basically a charge if you don't move off when your EV is charged. There is a grace period (5min) and charges may depend on how many unused chargers are at the site.
The short answer is I don't know.
Some EV skeptics claim all EV batteries will be dead and buried after ten years use. Some EV fanatics claim 100 year batteries are here. The truth is somewhere in between but certainly closer to the skeptical end of the spectrum.
Most of the talk is about the cycle life of the batteries. We have a good handle on that and the news is good.
What is rarely mentioned is that they also have a calendar life, they die eventually no matter how well the are treated. This we don't have a good handle on. You are unlikely to wear out a reputable EV battery with use. Even old battery technology has be known to outlast ICE engines by quite a margin when life is measured in distance driven. LiFePO4 batteries are expected to last 2,000-3,000 cycles for a %100 discharge and up to 10,000 for %60 discharge. A LiFePO4 fitted car with 600Klm/400Ml range should get a minimum of 1.2 Million Kilometers or .72 Million Miles before wearing out.
However that tells us nothing about how long it will last in years. I see no reason to assume long cycle life implies long calendar life. The LiFePO4 batteries in my power wall are expected to have calendar life of 10 years. Similar batteries in a friend's car lasted 10 years.
EV batteries often have a distance warranty on 160000Klm/100000Ml but a calendar warranty of 7-10 years.
End of battery life is usually defined as %70 capacity remaining. Youtube's "EV man" is guessing battery life will be 15 to 20 years - I think that is a reasonable guess. We are getting close to knowing that answer for the older (mostly obsolete) batteries but by the time we know the lifespan of newer chemistry they may be obsolete as well.
If batteries keep declining at the same rate beyond %70 they may still be of use either in the EV or in a second life for stationary power storage. A 1000Klm EV which has become a 700Klm one is still useful.
At current prices it isn't worth replacing a battery out of warranty. In future battery prices should drop and the situation may change.
My experience with EV(ish) batteries has been sad. My PHEV battery declined very quickly and at 3.5YO is well past the point where it should be replaced. It has a 10 year warranty but it will be a hassle.
EV fires videos go viral while ICE car fires hardly get a mention.
Not all EV fires are caused by the battery or involve the battery burning.
Unfortunately when batteries do catch fire they can be very hard to put out.
It many cases it is better to just let them burn but if it is indoors, in a ship or some other situation where huge damage will occur to surroundings - this isn't wise.
I don't have any data on when fires are most likely. I would assume many are from charger faults or damaged batteries. Age may play a factor but possibly not in the way you might expect. I'd probably do the first few charging sessions outside.
EVs charging can also cause fires when the external wiring is inadequate such as when house wiring is very old.
Not all EVs have the same risks. NMC chemistry is much more likely to burn than LiFePO4/LFP, M3P or sodium.
NMC will burn without an external oxygen/air supply this makes them hard to put out - LFP won't burn without air so they can be extinguished.
Water-based chemistry such as lead-acid will never burn.
Limiting charging to say 80% might reduce fire risks while charging. Lithium Ion batteries (not just EV batteries) should be shipped with minimal charge. State of charge make a difference to the intensity of a battery fire.
Accord to "EV FireSafe" Youtube today (Sept 2023) only six EVs have caught fire in Australia. Four of those were not caused by the battery. Two were from battery damage and none from charging. That is two in >120,000. This probably doesn't include the two fires we had recently but one of those was under weird circumstances.
A Norwegian study found EV are 20 times LESS likely to catch fire than ICE cars.
Fire risk is real but small enough that I'll continue to charge my PHEV indoors.
- Efficiency. Even without on-board solar the lower energy cost is not only good for the owner/user but also for the power grid. If everyone drove efficient EVs - billions could be saved on infrastructure upgrades. Also less CO2 where fossil fueled power is used.
- Right to repair. Aptera won't require authorized servicing to maintain your warranty. They will also help make DIY and other repairs easy by providing parts and information. They plan to have QR codes on parts for easy ordering. They also support to concept of improving the EV over time rather than discarding for a newer model.
- The main body will not rust.
- Performance. With 0-100Klm/0-60Ml time of 4 seconds for AWD version and 5 seconds for 2WD it is not slow off the mark. Torque vectoring will provide improved steering and traction control.
- Onboard Solar. Free charging for those in sunny regions. Also handy for powering fan, AC and accessories while parked in sunlight.
- AWD/3WD option. At $2500US the difference between FWD and AWD is not excessive. Having the rear wheel not in the front wheel's ruts may be any advantage in mud and sand.
- Strong regenerative brakes. The in-wheel out-runner motor design provides strong regenerative braking allowing more energy to be recovered and less brake pad wear. Good single pedal driving.
- Very stable. The forward COG (centre of gravity) make it very stable and unlikely to roll over.
- Strong carbon body for protection in collisions.
- Replaceable sections where minor bumps are most likely.
- Beam steered headlamp.
- Open pilot compatible.
- Large cargo space - with care 3M poles and pipes could be carried inside.
- Long delivery times.
- No rear window with hatch solar.
- Digital rear view. I think older drivers will have trouble adjusting between distance focus through the windscreen and arms length focus of the digital screen - particularly at night.
- Only 2 seats. It may be possible to add a small child seat in future.
- Only 500lb/227Kg total load rating. Note than cars are often driven over their official weight limit.
- Minimal physical controls. IMHO too many control have been moved to the touchscreen. The horn button should be big and central.
- No non MNC batteries available at launch.
- No spare tyre. This is true for some other cars including my PHEV. It is likely a pump and tyre slime will be provided. Tube-less tyres can often be repaired while still on the vehicle. YouTube is your friend here.
- Little or no towing ability. It may have enough power but it simply doesn't have enough weight - particularly in the back.
- Too wide. At 88in/2.2M there may be problem registering it in some places. It may have problems on narrow roads and parking spaces. Most cars are widest at the mirrors, Aptera is widest at the wheels. It is only about 4in/100mm wider than my PHEV mirrors. The winged doors don't need as much space to open as regular doors and this may help in tight parking spaces.
- No paint. It will come with some sort of wrap. Not as long lasting as paint but should be cheap to re-do. There is a lot of choice in colour,thickness and finish.
- No dealers. Bypassing dealers should lower costs but could also make life harder if you need help.
- Odd looking. Good if you like attention bad if you don't.
- 3 wheels. Could make it difficult to register in some places but could also mean cheaper rego etc. May also allow use in transit lanes in some places.
I will not be surprised if it slips to 2025. With 44K preorders it could take years to clear the backlog but it is unknown how many people will follow through with their order. People are making guesses which all over the place. I'm guessing %50. There is talk of building more factories. I think they will be busy getting the bugs out of the first factory for a while - I hope to be proved wrong. Aptera are quite transparent about their progress. I hope they can quickly get to the part where we get vehicles and they make money.
The first 6000 will be local pickup from California. It will be a while before right hand drive and international delivery will be sorted out.
The deal is the referrer gets one point which potentially means $1000 off the cost of an Aptera. More referrals equals more points.
I say "potentially" because the referral has to be completed before the discounts apply. If the referrer already has a reservation for the same or earlier production model to the referee they will most likely get their Aptera first and no discount will apply. Points received late can be used to buy extras - such as the camping kit.
All reservation holders get a referral code but you don't have to have a reservation. I believe anyone can open an Aptera account. However you can't refer yourself.
My Aptera referral code link
Note that the signup page may say $100 - you should see the discount if you reach the payment section.
The shortest link is eddiem.com/aptera and the QR code is below.
I am an Aptera reservation holder. I am not an investor, accelerator or ambassador. I have no special relationship with Aptera nor do I have inside information. As I live on the other side of the planet to the USA I won't be touring the factory or seeing an Aptera in the flesh.
My primary domain is eddiem.com if you put aptera23 and an at sign in front of that you can email me.