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Aptera News

Discussion in 'Cars and Transportation' started by Skotty, Sep 12, 2017.

  1. Skotty

    Skotty 2014 Model S P85

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    Who's got some?

    I haven't heard even a whisper in a very long time.

    Sorry if you thought I had some. Ha! Sucker!
     
  2. daniel

    daniel Active Member

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    I thought they went out of business. Back in the day I'd have bought one in a heartbeat. But now, with all the BEVs to choose from, the Aptera would be near the bottom of the list.

    I think they just didn't have the smarts to design an acceptable car. Item: They thought you would never need to open the windows. What about when a cop stops you, tells you to stay in your car and open the window? "Sorry, officer, this car's windows don't open." "What? I can't hear you your window is closed. Open it now or I'm taking you to jail." Or just those of us who like fresh air.

    They blew it and their time is past.
     
  3. KarenRei

    KarenRei KarenRei KarenRei KarenRei KarenRei KarenRei

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    Aptera went out of business ages ago.

    It had nothing to do with "not having the smarts to design an accepable car" - actually, Tesla snapped up a lot of their designers and engineers. They were literally three months from deliveries (I actually have some of their old internal documents showing what tasks they had completed and what were left to do before delivery) when the board overrode the founders and insisted that they bring in some "Detroit talent", which ended up being Paul Wilbur. Whose previous history had been bankrupting or near bankrupting three separate automakers. Paul took over a company flush with cash and with lots of interest, took a million dollar salary and a golden parachute, brought in all of his friends**, and set about steadily ruining the car in order to suit his personal tastes better. He raised almost no money (literally none for most of his time there) and delivered nothing.

    ** His friends were an amazing bunch. The CFO he brought in, for example (Laura Marion) was previously cited by the SEC for helping plan one of the largest accounting frauds in the US at the time, at Delphi. Or another example, the CMO, Marques McCammon - famed for making all the women in the office uncomfortable by constantly hitting on them, and at one point submitted strip club receipts for reimbursement as business expenses. Of course, I'm not surprised Paul liked him - Paul was known for showing off his "wedding ring trick", designed for if he met a woman he was interested in - he could put his hand in his pocket, and without any obvious motion, when he took it out the ring would be left behind.

    Anyway, eventually it came to a head with the founders, who went to the board and told them that they believe Paul needs to leave. The board sided with Paul, who had been chumming up to them since before he even got the job. Paul immediately set out to purge the company of the founders and anyone they deemed was more loyal to them than to him. And not in a pleasant manner. He fired Trisha Fambro (founder Steve Fambro's wife), for example, via a phone call to her hospital bed where she was being treated for cancer. The chief engineer? He brought in an armed guard to march him out of the building in front of everyone else. Etc.

    Anyway, the company continued its downward spiral for over a year until the money was gone. But there was one nice parting gift: the remaining people hired by Paul took all of the shells (despite requests from reservation holders to buy them) and crushed them with forklifts for fun.

    Aptera was a great story of "what could have been". Back when they started, they had a wide open field. Tesla was working on the very high end with the Roadster, still trying to iron out production issues. The low end was almost unoccupied. And that's because EV components were incredibly expensive back then - batteries and drivetrain components. Aptera's approach to make it cheap was simple: go for *extreme* aerodynamics so that you only need a tiny pack (12kWh) to go a long way, and keep it very light so that you (again) can use a small pack, and also don't need a very powerful drivetrain to get good acceleration. By keeping it efficient, they also worked around the "charging station shortage" problem; it charged at very high mph from low-power sockets. Indeed, their "home charging" setup was just a NEMA 10-20 plug. To achieve great structural strength with light weight and affordable construction, they were building the vehicles like boats (indeed, co-founder Chris Anthony's background was running a boat building company): foam-core fibreglass. They struck the middle ground, using vinyl ester rather than polyester or epoxy - vinyl ester is much cheaper than epoxy, but only mildly more expensive than polyester (which most fiberglass products use) - yet it has material properties and durability roughly midway between the two, and in some regards close to epoxy.

    In the end, they would have had to mainstream more, and that was part of the plan. Build the super-efficient Type-2e, filling the demand for the thousands of reservations they had just from California alone (and more to come as they expanded their market), and by becoming an established automaker, raising more money to expand to new, more "mainstream" vehicles - while still sticking to their key objectives of efficiency and low price. And they might well have succeeded. Seriously, this was a time period when people were paying $70k for used RAV4 EVs because that's all that they could buy. It would have been an interesting alternative-reality where, while Tesla was taking over the market from the high-end, Aptera was working up from the low end.
     
    • Informative x 2
  4. daniel

    daniel Active Member

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    That's very interesting. Thanks for posting that. I only remembered that the windows were not going to open (which would have been a disaster). I didn't know any of that stuff regarding the board and whatnot.

    I definitely would have bought one. But IIRC they were not even offering reservations outside of CA. Did the people who put down money for reservations ever get their money back?

    In the end I got a Zap Xebra, which was a complete P.O.S. but I loved it, and it was my daily driver for four years until I got the Roadster. Surprisingly, the Xebra was actually pretty reliable. It was a death trap, but it only died in traffic once, when the motor got wet after I drove through a puddle, but after that a friend designed and installed a shield and that never happened again.
     
  5. KarenRei

    KarenRei KarenRei KarenRei KarenRei KarenRei KarenRei

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    #5 KarenRei, Sep 12, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2017
    I cheated to get a reservation ; I had a cousin in CA put down my money for me ;) And yes, everyone got it back. Unlike Tesla, Aptera reservations were escrowed; they never spent customer reservation money. The founders were insistent on escrow, which I find to be refreshingly honourable in this era where everyone's business plan seems to be "open a kickstarter, and if things go south, just disappear with the cash". ;)

    BTW, Aptera played around with a number of window designs; one was split windows, for example. But the doors opened so easily and in such small spaces that they really weren't needed. Roll-down windows are not penalty-free; you're creating a hollow in the door, to the detriment of crush strength. Aptera - despite not having to meet car safety regs due to the three wheel design - was determined to exceed them. The roof crush strength was 4,5x that which would have been required for it were it classified as a car. They used to have a game for visitors to try to damage the shell with a sledgehammer - although it was rather dangerous because the hammer bounced back hard ;)

    I strongly suspect that a follow-up "mainstream" car would have had full roll-down windows. But there was no real demand for them among reservation holders.

    BTW, fun fact: because of the shape and how smooth the car was, when it rained, all water dripped off from a single point on the bottom ;)
     

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