MemberOctober 11, 2021 at 8:40 pm
I was surprised by how much storage space was in the front trunk (frunk).
Chris said the door would open by a button pressed by the driver. This is a change from Jason Hill’s statement that a person would wave their hand upward over the three lights by the door.
The whine of the motors is a function of the wheel’s RPM. When going in a straight line the pitch is the same from each motor. When turning in a circle, the wheels turn at different rates and the whine from the two motors are at different pitches. When pulling out of the turn, the two wheels converge on to the same RPM and the who whines converge on to the same pitch. Sounds exotic like science fiction!
MemberOctober 11, 2021 at 9:23 pm
Not impressed with JL. Wasn’t luna supposed to debut about now?. I don’t care if production is going slower than hoped for but to have an old fellow, JL, making statements and asking questions that he obviously doesn’t care about is disappointing. And the wheel covers should have been removed or reinforced to stop the shaking. When I get mine, if they shake like that I’ll run without them. Still awaiting my aptera. Just observation not negative comments. Thanks.
AdministratorOctober 13, 2021 at 3:50 pm
Hi there! The mounts for the Alpha pants are just not that strong. The Beta’s will have an inner liner that also braces the whole assembly to the motor. This will be MUCH stronger but no matter how strong it is they will still shake some because of the physics of having the pants travel with the wheel. It’s just a lot of mass moving quickly. But Beta’s will be a lot less noticeable in that department
MemberOctober 14, 2021 at 9:16 am
Good to see you posting on behalf of the Aptera team!
Those that take a moment and think about the move from alpha to beta, follow Aptera information releases, and track posts on the forum, will know an engineering change will fix the issue. Of course it will never not vibrate completely, but the amount of vibration will be minimal and not indicative of poor quality or bad engineering and certainly no damage to the vehicle.
Thanks for setting the Story straight for all as an official representative Of the Aptera Team
AdministratorOctober 14, 2021 at 3:58 pm
I’m so happy to do it — I’d like to become more involved with the Aptera community through our forum discussions. It’s a good place to discover how we can make improvements across the board! It is important to make all of our voices heard and I am thankful to have the opportunity to find out information right from the source.
You’re spot on. We refine things as we go to make them better, the wheel pants being one of those things! Thank you so much for your support.
MemberOctober 15, 2021 at 7:27 am
Well I watched the video again and realize I was way off base with my first comment. It was a good informative video and now feel that JL driving without regard for staying in lane coupled with the flimsy tire covers made me feel negative. But over all a good video. I apoligise.
MemberOctober 15, 2021 at 12:34 pm
Well I too watched the video again (for the third time) and still had the same concerns as I had before. BUT… The CleanTechnica article that just came out was pretty good and positive, so maybe I overreacted. I also like the fact that they mentioned that this was an Alpha development vehicle both in the article and on the video. There are things that once I see I can’t un-see. This example has nothing to do with the new Aptera but I will say it anyway. A decade ago I saw the Aptera in Vista, CA. at a school. I noticed that to secure the rear hatch there was a bolt sticking up. Instead of machining a sleeve on this bolt they just put a pile of washers on it to make it the right height and diameter for their intended purpose. It looked cheap and was a cheesy solution to the problem. It was ten years ago and I can’t forget it. So again, maybe I overreacted and this will not get the reviews I thought it would. I only wish the best things for Aptera and will continue to be an avid investor and ambassador for their future success.
MemberOctober 11, 2021 at 9:23 pm
Some new information on the Aptera design/functions. Still development to be done so potentially other changes. Pretty much expected.
The YouTube comments were more positive than I would expect. Could identify some of our enthusiasts reinforcement of the positive and counters of the negative. Only one troll who was rebuffed by nearly everybody.
Great reintroduction and exposure for Aptera on a prominent auto show.
MemberOctober 11, 2021 at 9:32 pm
It was posted here on Monday morning…
MemberOctober 11, 2021 at 9:45 pm
Interesting vid. Not a whole lot new, but some interesting tidbits.
One thing that stood out to me is JL’s unintentional demonstration of a learning curve for driving an Aptera. Watch and you’ll see he’s all over the road. I’m convinced that it was because he was driving the “small car” of the central body/cabin but didn’t have a feel for the “big car” wide spacing of the front wheels and wasn’t always aware of where the front end of the car really was at any time.
Also, it was clear that this was a prototype in action. I SERIOUSLY hope the front wheels get a very hard look prior to production. Watching them flop wildly around like they were was downright unnerving!
Still, really looking forward to getting mine!
MemberOctober 12, 2021 at 7:38 am
The video was made in 2013, so nothing new here.
MemberOctober 12, 2021 at 8:30 am
Doug, What video are you referring to? (2013)
MemberOctober 12, 2021 at 6:18 pm
Doug, Jay Leno did do a video review of the original Aptera back around ~2011. This video is of the newest iteration of the Aptera and also with Jay Leno. Two different videos.
MemberOctober 12, 2021 at 9:07 am
I also was a little concerned about the front wheel fairings flopping around and hope they can install a bracket on the rear upper portion of the faring to stabilize it. Other than that I think it was a great exposure for APTERA
MemberOctober 12, 2021 at 10:38 am
Agree Jay Leno attention, is good press, but …
My comments, have all been addressed by other comments, but I’ll repeat:
Jay’s right turns, almost always strayed into the adjoining lane. If HE has that problem, then how will the average driver do!
Floppy fenders. Just look at all the comments below Jay’s video, and a great number of them mention the floppy farings. That is NOT great press. I know its a prototype, but with the public seeing this, they may not remember it’s a prototype, and reinforce ideas of cheap build.
The Jay comment about the “missing horn” wasn’t met with the response I expected which would have been “this is a prototype, it will be included in the final build”..really? No horn?
The gaps behind Jay’s head, re closed hatch showing sky! Surprised me, even with a prototype.
.. and although “my” Aptera will be parked outside the fact it has solar cells, isn’t as big a selling factor to me as it once was!
Since making my deposit on the Aptera, I have bought a Tesla, and just plugging in at night, is NO big deal!! And where i am in Canada, in zone 4 of the Aptera Sun map, means I won’t get as much as the California residents!
MemberOctober 12, 2021 at 11:14 am
I was not very impressed with this video. I do not understand what drove Chris to have Leno review this Alpha vehicle. It was premature and not a good look for Aptera. They should have waited until at least a Beta was ready. The flimsiness of those wheel pants was an embarrassment. I believe that the Beta will have further enclosure of these wheel pants which, I certainly hope, will reduce the vibrations and motor noise. I know Leno expressed an interest in reviewing the next version, but why was this done? More exposure is only good if it demonstrates a quality product. This review should never have happened and now it is out there. It was not ready! This has been the first thing I have seen from Aptera that I didn’t like.
MemberOctober 12, 2021 at 12:42 pm
Hi, Glenn. I understand your negative reaction to the video.
I believe it’s a real catch-22 as to when is the right time to unveil a new product. In these days of crowdfunding of products that don’t yet exist in production form, the Leno video may not be as big a mistake as you might think, but I acknowledge it could be seen as a bad marketing move because the vehicle might be seen as “not ready for prime time”. On the positive side, despite the warts you mention, it does ride and drive and it is real, not vaporware. Jay Leno’s Garage gets a lot of eyeballs and if even 65% of the folks who see the video are impressed, that could be money in the bank in the form of new customers. They’ll always be haters. Just sayin’.
MemberOctober 12, 2021 at 11:01 am
The one thing that worried me was that only 120V charging was mentioned, they have J1772 on the vehicle but no mention of the charging rate in the FAQ. It’s important that you be able to fully charge the car overnight. My use case for the car is long day trips, for example last weekend we went to Maine which was a 400 mile round trip. I have the 600 mile version reserved which can do that trip with no DC charge stops, however when I get home I’ll need to put 40KWh into it. You can’t do that with Level I, with a 32A level 2 EVSE you can do that in 5.5 hours which would be fine.
I don’t get why they would think that installing an EVSE is a big deal, it’s not. The cost is about the same as the paint option on a Tesla. I have two, a ClipperCreek that I installed when I got the Volt and a Tesla which I installed when I got the Model 3. The ClipperCreek is on a 40A line, my electrician charged me $375 to run that line and hook up the EVSE. The Tesla is on a 60A line, that cost me $750 to run the line and install the EVSE. That’s no big deal compared to the cost of a new car so why pretend that it is.
MemberOctober 12, 2021 at 1:18 pm
They have mentioned Level 2 charging in the FAQ 🙂
“Aptera can be charged and travel up to 1,000 miles in range by plugging into a standard 100 V or 220 V outlet. Aptera will also be compatible with CCS, J1772, Level 2 and CHAdeMO/ DC Fast Charge stations. We believe Tesla has some of the best EV technology in the industry and we hope to partner with them as well in the future.”
But judging from my experience driving 3 different Leafs over the last 10 years, Level 1 will likely be all most people need for 99% of their driving (it was for me, even with a 45 mile round trip at mostly highway speeds, and the Aptera is roughly 3 times as efficient as the Leafs).
MemberOctober 12, 2021 at 1:32 pm
Hi there, Joshua. Patience is not one of my strongest personality assets. I think fast charging is a great feature for Aptera to include and I’m relieved to see they have plans for that.
I had an experience similar to yours with level 2 EVSE. I had a Clipper Creek unit installed for my 2014 Chevy Volt. I believe it cost me about $600 for the unit and the installation by one of my buddies who is an electrician and gave me the friends and family discount. I totally agree that the extra expense of level 2 at home is well worth it.
MemberOctober 16, 2021 at 8:49 pm
I believe that, at one point, they spoke about the on-board charger being a 3.2 kW unit – to save space and to generate less heat.
MemberOctober 12, 2021 at 4:17 pm
I’m a shareholder and reservation holder and looking forward to seeing these on the roads but this video is bad. I realize that there is no such thing as bad publicity but this is not good from shaky wheel covers, inability to avoid bumps, no horn, tough to drive, unrefined etc etc. It makes the Aptera look like a bad toy and Chris should have used a newer and hopefully more refined version. The only people on this forum are very positive on Aptera and the general consensus doesn’t look good. Adoption of Aptera is an uphill battle due to its odd looks and this only helps to justify that EV owners gravitate to non-conventional(ie weird) vehicles which Aptera needs like a hole in the head.
I hate being negative but this really rubbed me the wrong way. I do hope there will be a take 2 very very soon so this bad taste doesn’t linger too long.
MemberOctober 12, 2021 at 7:52 pm
I’m not that concerned about the overall look of this video, if for one reason. Most of those who subscribe or even just casually check out Jay Leno’s Garage are mostly gear heads and are more knowledgeable than most average TV viewers about all cars, including EV’s. They understand the word “prototype” and for me, I think I heard the reference to things being different on the production model throughout the show. The last words at the end were Jay asking to come back to drive the production model and Chris confirming he will.
MemberOctober 12, 2021 at 10:59 pm
I suspect that Steve and Chris were presented with ‘the opportunity’ … possibly out of the blue … and rolled the dice. Oh, and while we know that 95% of the cars in Leno’s garage are exotic ICE vehicles that made it to production. I get the impression he’s not terribly interested in driving an “Alpha” level prototype and I feel his impression was what he saw and drove – and I think he’s the first ‘outside’ reviewer to drive it – was a mediocre ‘kit car’ that, from his experience meant it may even have had a Miata frame under it.
Leno also seemed confused by the Aptera’s market. He couldn’t grasp that it is designed as a handy, efficient, commuter vehicle not a high-end exotic ‘attention getting’ car. He just doesn’t grasp that the Aptera looks the way it does because it literally has to look that way in homage to the first principle of efficiency. I think it was about that point in the video that Leno made his nose-picking comment.
We also don’t know how much difficulty he had getting his ‘hefty frame’ into the car or any other interactions between Leno, Steve and Chris. (I would like to see a full-motion video clip of either Steve or Chris actually getting into and out of either Luna or Noir. Both, and for that matter Leno, would be representative of larger people that might have an issue. That said, I’m willing to reserve judgement until one of the beta versions, with the expanded cabin, are available.)
I also think it of use to those of us who encourage bringing the Aptera to market. What this experience tells us is we need to be patient. One thing I picked up from the demonstration was that it sounds like the production engineering process may be able to truncate the time needed to get to production by leaping from the beta directly to the ready for production delta vehicles.
I suspect that is why the beta versions – a production run of a dozen or so vehicles – seems to be lagging.
MemberOctober 12, 2021 at 11:01 pm
I’m an car guy and an ICE guy. The Aptera is the first EV that makes sense to me. The people commenting on Jay’s lack of lane discipline are either not car guys or have never seen Jay Leno’s Garage on YouTube. Jay always drives in 1 1/2 lanes. Just watch is previous videos. It doesn’t matter which one.
I hope the Aptera comes to market. I could use it in Wyoming – long distances and no chargers to speak of.
MemberOctober 13, 2021 at 5:51 am
Sonic, agree with you completely on the lane driving thing, I have barely ever seen an episode before, but watching that. it’s quite possible that he drives that way to discourage vehicles from getting into the shot, or interfering with the secondary camera vehicle they shoot from. (At one point you see someone, who seemed kind of irritated by the way he drove, pull up quickly on the right, to make a turn.)
MemberOctober 13, 2021 at 12:08 am
At time 25:40 Chris is talking about stability. He says they tried to flip the Aptera. He did not say what the results were but it sounds like it did not flip or he would have not mentioned it.
MemberOctober 13, 2021 at 9:02 am
I am surprised by how much negativity there is about this video.
MemberOctober 13, 2021 at 4:55 pm
It kinda was the most unrefined, seeming forced, video to date. rear hatch not latched while driving, unable to stay in lane, things not working or installed, just a lot of floppiness amongst the nose picking, Not what we are used to. It will get better and refined.
MemberOctober 14, 2021 at 5:25 am
Thanks for your comment. I too have been surprised at the negative comments about the Leno video even though I understand and appreciate the perspective from which the negative comments are coming — first impressions are lasting impressions so you better look your best right out of the gate.
Since I first came across Aptera, I have continued to be reassured by the level-headed acceptance and straightforward “face the music” attitude of the founders and other spokespeople. They seem to be saying “Yes, this is a challenge. Here’s the optional solutions we are evaluating.” If you explore other EV startups, you will get a good deal of wild, unsubstantiated claims and cockeyed enthusiasm — the kind of thing that leads to doubt and suspicion and hurts credibility. I’m not seeing that with Aptera. Commitment yes, craziness no.
MemberOctober 15, 2021 at 7:46 am
As I said above upon second watching of video I came away liking it much better.I feel the first time watching it with JL not staying in lane and bouncing covers dissapointed me. I have been anticipating news on a refined Luna and instead see wheel covers getting ready to break off and a driver that shows little consideration for others regardless of following the camera vehicle. Seriously, I was watching for cracks to form in the wheel covers and that stuck with me. As stated above I apoligise for first observation.
MemberOctober 13, 2021 at 5:15 pm
Not surprised. we are the most critical reviewers. Comes from being astute detail oriented people. The kind of people you would expect to be Aptera enthusiasts
MemberOctober 14, 2021 at 11:39 am
Not sure how many of us get daily “Green Car Reports”, but Leno Aptera video was their lead story today with link included. More exposure can only be good thing in my opinion. Seriously thinking about increasing my investment to $10K to take advantage of 5% discount on my reservation. Be interesting to know how many in community are invested at that level!
MemberOctober 14, 2021 at 1:57 pm
I’m in for 10k.
MemberOctober 14, 2021 at 2:06 pm
Maybe people are misunderstanding my viewpoint. I never believed that Aptera would release a vehicle like this as a product. If so I would not be an investor in the company. I know they are making improvements with the Beta design and hopefully, as Audra stated, beefing the wheel pants up, as well as other changes. My objection to this review is this; How many of you have seen videos of Teslas on fire? Never mind all the ICE vehicle fires- we don’t really remember them. How much did these videos hurt Tesla? I do not believe all exposure is good exposure. My complaint has to do with the wisdom of having such a public and somewhat respected figure as Jay Leno reviewing a product prematurely. I will continue to be an investor, but this was not a good look for Aptera.
ModeratorOctober 15, 2021 at 11:05 am
Yes, I also cringed at those vibrating wheel pants. I believe this must be the first or 2nd Aptera video that Aptera Motors did not pay for or control the editing of. We all now have a better feeling of what “alpha prototype” means. The design is not finished, yet.
This Aptera alpha is much more than just the pretty shell that some car companies show off on stage at car shows: car shells that must be pushed onto the stage because they don’t even have an engine or motor inside. However, it is a garage built and hand built incomplete vehicle. The beta prototypes will be the first “road legal” ones, maybe. Or maybe not, because they intend to test many of them unto death.
MemberOctober 14, 2021 at 3:32 pm
Loved the video! I did notice something appear to fall off the vehicle out of the rear wheel well at 23:39. It seemed like foam, is that part of sound dampening against wheel noise?
MemberOctober 14, 2021 at 4:08 pm
Jaron, If you slow down the video to .25 secs on YouTube you can see it is either a black napkin or a small piece of a plastic bag on the road.
MemberOctober 14, 2021 at 7:57 pm
Even if it was a piece of the vehicle, should we really care, these are Alpha prototypes, to put it mildly, you shouldn’t be surprised if some things were kluged together with with bubble gum and bicycle parts.
MemberOctober 15, 2021 at 5:17 am
I love Aptera and could easily imagine owning one someday. I believe the design is capable of becoming as iconic as the original beetle, the original mini, or the original mustang.
I last had a close look at Aptera around January 2021 and was keen to see how much progress has been made in the 9 months since. The car is very impressive, but I have a bunch of concerns (written with love …)
– The number of product variants must be driving the designers and test engineers and production folks crazy. It certainly wouldn’t be helping with the time-to market of the product. I don’t understand why Aptera don’t just keep things simple and have the strategy of “this is our first model, it goes 400 miles on a charge, it can recharge 20 miles a day on sunlight, it is two wheel drive, it costs $25K”. Even with the reduced variants, there’ll still be far more pre-orders than can be shipped any time soon. Best keep things simple. That doesn’t mean that customers can’t have 1000mile range, or 40 mile / day solar charging, or 3 wheel drive in the future – they just need to wait for a future model if they want that. And they can buy a standard model now while they’re waiting.
– This is clearly a product that is trying to be everything to everyone. That doesn’t sound like a great strategy for a manufacturer that hasn’t shipped anything yet. Jay Leno made the point himself with the story about the Viper. Identify a target customer, address their needs, sell them product, delight them, have them drive their friends around, and get people seeing Aptera’s on the road. Shipping a basic product in 2 years (let’s be realistic, from the Jay Leno video the product looks to be at least that far away) is better than shipping the perfect product in 8 years that is everything to everybody.
– Suggest being credible with the marketing. A layman watching this video who doesn’t know any better could reasonably have the impression that for $25K they can buy an Aptera that can go 1000 miles and have 40 miles solar charging and is all-wheel drive. Aptera is a great product, it doesn’t need to be confusing consumers in this way. Later when the manufacturing bugs have been ironed out, then the technique of addressing consumers ‘willingness to spend’ up through the ranges can be implemented. I understand that the fully optioned vehicles has more profit than the base model versions – but I’d contend that companies that ship product generate more profit than companies that don’t. It looks like Aptera’s sales strategy has been designed by somebody who has no appreciation for the complexities and challenges of product testing, compliance and production.
– A car needs a horn. It doesn’t need a tent. Focus on the essentials. Aptera is already a great product. Those small number of people who will not buy an Aptera unless there is a tent option can be serviced at some later stage in the future. There are enough people who have no interest in camping who want Aptera to take their money already.
– Betting on the regulators allowing rear vision cameras before shipping seems like an unnecessary risk. Put side mirrors on the car and maybe the CD goes up to 0.15, and maybe the batteries need to be an extra few kilos to get the range. It then becomes a manufacturable product that gets through the regulators (cameras are obviously a great idea, but put them in a later version after they become part of homologation)
– 60kg un-sprung weight on each front wheel sounds like **a lot**? I wonder what potholes feel like? Jay made a comment about potholes and I’m guessing there was something in the handling of the car that piqued his interest there.
– Jay Leno usually includes motorway driving on his test drives, and in some cases he takes them up to the mountain passes to test the handling. He didn’t take this car very far from base. I wonder if there was a reason for that?
– This wasn’t a “no excuses demo”. There were plenty of “Oh, this alpha doesn’t do this / doesn’t have that, but the beta will”. How many things did Jay Leno NOT ask about that still need work? (How mature is that skin cooling system? How much range does the battery in the test car have? How much of the HVAC has been implemented?)
I love this car. The world needs this on the road ASAP. But there is clearly still a lot of work to be done. In my opinion Aptera need to simplify things. I’d be super surprised if Sandy Monroe hasn’t been advising Aptera the same thing.
MemberOctober 15, 2021 at 8:14 am
The first prototype was AWD. The first production cars will be 400 mile range FWD. 1,000 mile range will come last. Adding solar charging is meant to be bread and butter for the company. They’ve already pretty much figured these logistics out, no worries.
MemberOctober 15, 2021 at 3:29 pm
Henry, agree that adding solar charging is bread and butter. It’s a ‘USP’ (unique selling proposition). But should it be the 20 mile range (with standard glass rear hatch) or 40 mile range (with solar rear hatch)? If the solar power is a solved problem, then I’d argue that it’s prudent to keep it simple, keep the standard glass rear hatch and give it 20 mile solar charging range.
Whilst on that topic, the line that Aptera folks often quote “The average commute in America is 30 miles” isn’t how consumers see it. The people watching this are real people with real commutes that are 10 miles (sunlight charging seems great!), or 30 miles (sunlight charging seems marginal), or 60 miles (sunlight charging isn’t a helpful feature). The term “average” is merely a statistical curiosity.
It doesn’t matter that the 20 mile range of the model with a glass rear hatch is less than the 30 mile range of the average American commute. There would still be a huge number of consumers who would be well served by the feature of 20 miles of plug-free charging.
MemberOctober 15, 2021 at 12:46 pm
AJK, you make some good points. Wanted to comment on your 60kg of unsprung weight for each of the front wheels.
The figure of 60kg translates to about 132 lbs which seem high if you’re talking about EACH of the front wheel assemblies. The hub motor itself has been quoted as weighing around 51 lbs. Subtract that from 132 and you get 81 lbs. I have a hard time believing the disc brake, wheel and tire, wheel enclosure and other items add up to 81 lbs. when the engineering of the vehicle has been so laser-focused on weight savings. A 16 inch tire on an aluminum rim weighs about 33-36 lbs. So that would leave around 45 lbs. for the wheel pant, disc brake and whatever else is unsprung. Obviously, we’re a long way from a final production design and these numbers are like Monopoly money. Nevertheless, you’re absolutely right that unsprung weight is a big factor in feel and handling. All other things being equal, less unsprung weight is better than more. Of course, I’m heartened by the partnership with Roush Engineering on the suspension design. They bring a great deal of experience with a proven track record to the party. Then too, we should bear in mind that using hub motors means transmission and driveshafts can be eliminated. So, that advantages offsets the penalty of increased unsprung weight that comes with the use of hub motors. Design is always a matter of compromise, isn’t it?
In the end, unsprung weight is one of those interesting aspecst of the Aptera about which we can speculate while we wait for the first production models to roll out of the factory at which point we’ll have real numbers.
MemberOctober 15, 2021 at 1:39 pm
The wheels are sub-30 lbs each. The disk brakes are internal to the hub motors. So the only thing left is knuckles/lugnuts and wheel pants. So probably about 90 lbs per wheel up front.
MemberOctober 15, 2021 at 1:49 pm
Thanks for “weighing in” here, Peter. That sounds about right.
MemberOctober 15, 2021 at 3:00 pm
Good analysis. I agree that the 60kg / 132 lbs number seems very high but just going by what Chris said on the video.
Re: Analysis. Maybe it included everything that was unsprung, such as the suspension arms, maybe even an element of those power cables is included. Covers would be included, but they wouldn’t be much. Turn signals would be included. Perhaps this is a case of lots of small numbers that add up to a big number?
Re: Motors weighing 51 lbs. Aptera have made me a little nervous of figures they quote given the ‘bait and switching’ that appears to go on with their marketing (“You can have 40 miles of daylight range!!! – oh, but we need to design the rear hatch first”). Maybe there was a 51 lbs motor at one stage, but it’s since been upgraded?
Re: “Design is a compromise” – Absolutely! That’s why it’s good to begin a design with a target end-user-group in mind. Is it intended that the end-user-group are city dwellers who have street parking, and commute 10 to 15 miles to work each day? And if so, how many corners do they turn / potholes do they hit? Design thinking resolves these compromises by taking the user’s point of view. My impression is that this is a product driven a lot more by engineering than it is by design.
MemberOctober 15, 2021 at 9:39 pm
Sounds like comments from someone who is experienced in product R&D and production!
Designing a product so that it is everything to everybody is the death nail to survival let alone success. Without doubt the KISS principle is the low schedule and cost risk approach to a reliable product delivered on time. Especially for a brand new product from a startup.
Many of the enthusiasts on the form want just one more thing added or one “Small” change without having a background to understand the impact of making any change.
Fortunately the CO-CEOs have experience with this “Change trap” from the previous incarnation of the Aptera which contributed significantly to the bankruptcy and to this point they are resisting the clamor for features and change. They have done a remarkable job with shoestring budget and small staff. I trust that they will be able to bring this remarkable product to market.
As to the many varients, they are wisely starting with production of only the 400mi, two wheel variant
MemberOctober 16, 2021 at 5:41 pm
Thanks. Yes, I am in the product development / R&D / production space.
Agree that “a product that is everything to everybody is the death knell to survival”. Good to hear that Aptera are focusing on a single 400mi / 2 wheel variant. That seems to make good sense for getting product to market as soon as possible.
It does seem that Aptera have been moving in the direction of KISS: Earlier in the year they were talking about being able to take on a Tesla down the drag strip, plus having an off-road capability. They seem to have stopped talking about those things now which I think is a good thing. However I do think they could make further progress in this area (I previously cited the example of the rear vision cameras / mirrors. And they continue to spruik the 1000mi range)
I do understand the pressures they’re under. They’re not just developing a new vehicle from the ground up, they’re also raising the funds to do it. They need to attract crowd funding and investment. When an investor asks “Will I be able to take it off-road and set a tent up in it like a Tesla Cybertruck”, it’s a lot easier to answer “yes” and ask for forgiveness from the engineering folks later.
They need to create hype. But with hype comes expectations.
In my own experience, the great commercial guys are very good at attracting investment whilst being able to say “no, that is not what the product is for”.
MemberOctober 15, 2021 at 7:18 pm
I agree with most of what AJK is saying here, especially about the need for a horn. The only thing I disagree with is the concern for keeping it simple to get it to market sooner. The assembly process for an Aptera is radically more simple than a traditional (read-all other car makers) manufacturers. This is why they can offer the different build options without crippling the speed to get to market. If Sandy Munro thought their build options were slowing them down dramatically, I’m sure he would have told them that when he first came on board (I think a year ago, but I’m not sure). The Aptera brain trust knows what they are doing, except when it comes to horns and it better be a traditional middle of the steering wheel variety, not push buttons!
MemberOctober 16, 2021 at 8:03 pm
Thanks. I agree that manufacturers do need to be responsive to the needs of their customers. And a useful tactic that manufacturers apply to say “yes, we will add that feature to a future version”.
The “Change Trap” that John Malcolm refers to above is a very real thing. ‘Feature creep’ is a similar concept.
There’s a film titled “The Pentagon Wars” that illustrates these concepts beautifully. It’s an oldie but a goodie. Non-R&D folks think the film is a hilarious comedy. R&D folks look at it as a documentary. It’s a real-life case study of a military project falling into the ‘Change Trap’ / ‘Feature Creep’ despite the resources of the US military industrial complex providing access to the best advisors and best practices.
Having access to an advisor like Sandy Munro is very helpful, but doesn’t necessary mean these problems are avoided. Sandy only deals with some parts of the puzzle (Design, Design for manufacturability and serviceability, Homologation, Supply chain set-up, set up of production line). He doesn’t have to deal with funding and investor relations, or marketing, or product management. There will probably be advisors in those areas, and all the advice from the advisors won’t necessarily line up. It’s ultimately up to the company management about how they want to compromise to get all the pieces of the puzzle to fit together.
MemberOctober 16, 2021 at 8:33 pm
For example, consider a hypothetical design change to add racing stripes (I’m not advocating adding racing stripes, I’m just using it as the simplest hypothetical example I can think of)
A very rough guide to the consequences of this:
(1) Management review the decision, consider the pros and cons, decide to go ahead. Risk management is done (what affect would stripes have on the cooling system? Would vinyl provide unacceptable insulation? Etc, etc)
(2) The Design team come up with some designs. They consider stripe width, gap, length, end features, colour / colour gradient. They consider the implications from the company / product style guide. They put together some renderings of some different ideas and a decision made which one to proceed with.
(3) A review would be done of the appropriate process to go ahead with. The vehicle is made of composite material, therefore the options are probably hot-stamp, tampo, or vinyl decal. Let’s assume they keep it simple and go vinyl decal.
(4) A prototype mock-up is made, it’s added to a test vehicle and further reviewed for aesthetics.
(5) IP folks may have a quick look over it to determine if it infringes on any other trademarks (eg: Good chance Ford have trademarked their blue racing stripes), or whether this design should be trademarked (unlikely for a small company)
(6) Regulatory compliance folks review it (they review everything to ensure compliance)
(7) Marketing folks to update all controlled assets showing the vehicle, to replace them with assets that have racing stripes.
(8) Suppliers and supplier capabilities are reviewed.
(9) Identify and test adhesives that perform with the composite body.
(10) Put together spec, including drawings, tolerances, specify materials and adhesives. Put together test specs. All docs updated and reviewed and approved
(11) Source samples, test.
(12) Iterate if necessary
(13) Update bill of materials, consider inwards goods checks, update manufacturing processes, create alignment jigs, update Q/A pass / fail criteria, train production staff.
Most of those activities would be undertaken by people who are already under the pump. The addition of this change would add to the development time. Let’s be extremely generous and say it adds a week to the program (in practice it would be more). That would mean 10,000+ people need to wait an extra week for their vehicle. It would also mean that Aptera would be waiting an extra week for the revenue of $25,000 from 10,000+ people. And this example is for a relatively minor non-functional change that is low risk and has very minor interaction with other systems.
MemberOctober 16, 2021 at 9:50 pm
Thanks for this. A great example of the impact of a simple change!
Definitely extreme!y generous at one week. I know, just the example.
More valuable because it is coming from a seasoned R&D person.
I am confident that Aptera will hold the line if and when necessary to make sure those 10,000+ don’t have to wait an extra week for their vehicle