MemberAugust 13, 2021 at 8:43 pm
A few days ago I posted a few thoughts on modifications to the design so that Aptera could fit into the L5e-A vehicle class over on Reddit, and thought I’d bring those comments here, with a few edits.
Realistically, I don’t think the first model will actually be sellable in any region following UNECE vehicle regulations – you can’t make a three-wheel category M1 or N1 vehicle, they’re forced into category L5, and category L vehicles are maximum 2 m wide, 4 m long, both of which they exceed.
The length (currently 4.37 m)… shortening that simply will increase Cd and decrease solar panel area, no way around it.
The width (currently 2.24 m)… apparently they don’t actually need such a wide track for stability (source from the FAQ spreadsheet), they need it for aerodynamic reasons, to keep the wheel pods away from the body shell to minimize Cd.
The ways to deal with that:
- Narrow the tires and then the wheel pods, which would reduce width and frontal area, at the expense of front traction, although Cd should be relatively neutral. Realistically, I’m thinking about 145 mm wide tires are about the narrowest they could practically go, from the currently specified 195 mm wide. (125 mm wide LRR tires exist, but only on 13″ wheels – AFAIK the Elaphe motors that Aptera’s using require a minimum of 15″ rim size – and only designed for a vehicle half the weight with an 80 km/h limiter.) That only gets you at most 100 mm of width back (this assuming you keep the inside edge of the tires’ location fixed, and therefore reduce the track width by 50 mm), though, and you need to get 235.2 to fit in the 2 m maximum.
- Narrow the body shell, which would reduce interior space, safety, and potentially solar panel area, but would reduce frontal area. Shouldn’t affect Cd significantly. Worth noting that Aptera ‘s moving the seats inboard by 25 mm (each I think – source from Transport Evolved), so that means there’s 50 mm of free real estate if Noir’s side impact space was acceptable. Now we’re to 150 mm of the 235.2 mm needed (and may be able to take more of that).
- Bring the wheel pods closer in to the body. This increases Cd due to accelerating the air between the wheel pods and the body shell, although it might slightly reduce frontal area due to reducing suspension arm length. It also reduces stability, but that should remain within acceptable parameters, and widens the turning circle. (There may be a point where it makes sense to take a frontal area hit and fair the wheels and suspension into the bodyshell as well to keep Cd down, instead of having separate pods.)
There’s also a couple things I don’t like about the 145 mm LRR tire selection – 145/65R15’s two applications are the front tires on the 450 Smart ForTwo and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, both of which are RWD, so none of the 145/65R15 tires on the market are designed to be drive tires. If going for i-MiEV tires, though, it may also be reasonable to downsize the rear tire from 195/45R16 (or the potential for something 205 wide) to 175/60R15, which is the rear size for the i-MiEV, and therefore is available from the same vendors. That’d save a touch of frontal area to offset additional drag elsewhere.
A couple other thoughts I didn’t put into my Reddit comment: with 9″ of ground clearance for the belly, there may be potential to drop the bodyshell 2-3″, which would reduce frontal area for the rear wheel further, as well as restore at least some lost stability from narrowing things.
Worth noting that every modification other than narrower tires and wheel pods may well require a different bodyshell – hence my stating that I don’t expect the first Aptera to be available in UNECE regions. (And, the current FAQ does hint at this outcome.)
I’m not sure if the Elaphe motors are narrow enough to support a narrower tire – if not, then that option wouldn’t be practical without a motor redesign (and subsequent reduction in performance, although the European market may well accept that reduction in performance – a 0-100 km/h time of 8 seconds is decently quick there as I understand, where a 0-60 MPH time of 8 seconds is slow here).
MemberAugust 13, 2021 at 9:05 pm
…so I decided to do a quick and dirty photo edit of a pic on the site, to show what an Aptera narrowed to 2 m wide solely through bringing the wheel pods in would look like.
It’s an ugly one, as I didn’t address the background properly.
At that narrow, you actually would need to fair the front wheels into the body instead (and then you’d want to consider going even narrower to minimize frontal area, at which point stability starts becoming more of a concern, as well as footwell packaging).
Also, it looks like, based on counting pixels (582 pixels between the outer edges of the wheel pods, 454 pixels between the outer edges of the body shell), the body shell is about 68.6″/1.74 m wide.
MemberAugust 14, 2021 at 2:08 pm
What is the width across the front wheels?
Aptera is 88″ wide. We realize this may be wider than local regulations permit for some of our global customers and we working through this process with industry experts to ensure we can make Aptera available in Europe and the UK.
MemberAugust 14, 2021 at 10:56 am
A caveat, this is personal observation and does not necessarily represent the Aptera management approach
I am sure Aptera will address Euro specification compliance at the right time in their development plan with thorough research, consultation with appropriate advisors at the government level, and apply their exceptional, and proven creativity to formulate the most efficient and cost effective design for a European version as they have done with the current Aptera.
I would bet, that in that process, they would offer the opportunity for enthusiasts to submit suggestions for consideration and validation within their engineering process. Especially those in the EU.
But, until that time comes, I would like to see them concentrate all of their efforts on successfully bringing the current version to market and generating revenue to make their future plans, to include a European version possible.
MemberAugust 26, 2021 at 6:39 am
I am in Australia and the 2m wide restriction applies. I am now researching why Aptera cannot be classified as an M passenger vehicle. Autocycle is a US classification and there is an interesting discussion here https://www.ncsl.org/research/transportation/transportation-review-autocycles.aspx. Aptera has yet to resolve all the issues mentioned in this article. I believe they have employed a specialist to resolve the “Harmonisation” problem. Hope they can get it done before my order comes up.
My research so far indicates that many autocycles do not comply to safety requirements of M passenger vehicles but in Australia I have not discovered any reference to the number of wheels. I think Aptera may comply to the safety requirements. Do you have a link which specifically excludes 3 wheelers from being a M class car?
MemberAugust 26, 2021 at 7:11 am
Just curious, why does Australia have the same width restriction as Europe? My recollections about Australian roads is that they were pretty much the same width as American roads. I get it about Europe, there are medieval streets in Italy that you have to walk down sideways but Australia was founded after the US and they don’t have any medieval streets.
MemberAugust 26, 2021 at 5:42 pm
Australia is a signatory to the UNECE. My reading of the regulations is that someone has mostly done a cut and paste job between Australian Design Rules, ADR, and UNECE regulations and they got the 2m rule in the L class vehicles. A notable exception is that UNECE seems to require M Class vehicles to have 4 wheels. In the ADRs I have found no mention about 4 wheels for M Class vehicles.
As for wide cars, Australia does have wide open spaces and exceptionally wide roads especially where road trains (53.5m long usually 3 trailers and 2.5m wide) operate, and we do have urban areas and shopping center car parks. The widest vehicle you commonly see in Australia is a Toyota Landcruiser which is 183cm wide excluding mirrors. These often don’t fit in carpark spaces. The width of an Aptera is a concern, but if the design improves efficiency, and delivers the claimed performance I want one.
MemberAugust 26, 2021 at 6:56 pm
This document says light vehicles (below 4.5Tons) can be 2.5m wide in NSW.
Am I looking at the wrong thing?
MemberAugust 26, 2021 at 7:50 pm
In order to import a Motor Vehicle into Australia, we need gain approval from the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communication. Part of the approval process is compliance to Australian Design Rules (ADR). Once this is done we can import our Aptera into Australia. Then we take it to our State Authority. NSW as you point out allows light vehicles to be 2.5m wide and further into the document I found this:
“Car means a motor vehicle built mainly to carry people that:
• Seats not more than 9 adults (including the driver), and
• Has a body commonly known as a sedan, station wagon, coupe, convertible, or roadster,
• Has 3 or more wheels. “
It appears that NSW may well register an Aptera for road use but we still need Federal Approval. The ADRs have a 3 wheel category which has a 2m width limit but as I stated earlier the passenger car category doesn’t mention the number of wheels. Hopefully there is a way.
3 wheelers in Australia which have steering wheels and seats are rare. The Morgan 3 Wheeler is one and reading their web site it took 2 years to get approval. At the current pace Aptera may be ready to deliver our cars before that. Aptera is setting up an Ambassador program which I hope will support us in applying for Australian approval.
MemberAugust 26, 2021 at 8:03 pm
Looks like 2m is right if the Aptera is classed as ADR category LE . Motor Tricycle.
“126.96.36.199.3. in the case of a three wheel vehicle (LB or LE) or a motorcycle with a side car (LD), the maximum width must not exceed 2,000 mm.”
Please correct me if I am wrong.
MemberAugust 26, 2021 at 8:41 pm
Just found an quote in Cars Guide, by Morgan importer Mr Van Wyk. Seems pretty clear that in Australia an Aptera is a car. No width problem or 3 wheel issues based on this precedent. Aptera now needs pass all the safety requirements. Having ridden a motor bike I am keen for car safety in my old age along with a heater, a roof, doors, hey even a place for some luggage and a bed for my daily SCAN (Senior Citizens Afternoon Nap).
“The ADR classification is that a three-wheeler with a steering wheel is car-derived, so it’s a car. By contrast, a three-wheeled motorbike, or one with a sidecar, is a motorcycle and doesn’t need such testing,” Mr Van Wyk said.
MemberAugust 29, 2021 at 9:51 am
Looking through here: https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2021C00095
I’m not sure about the interpretation that a three-wheel vehicle can be a passenger car, but it can be a motor tricycle (where width becomes a concern) or a goods vehicle (where it’s not a concern).
If Aptera can get their payload up to 600 lbs from the 500 lbs planned, that will be slightly higher than 272 kg (twice 68 kg per seat), and therefore it’d qualify as a light goods vehicle instead of as a motor tricycle. Given the 300 lbs cargo/500 lbs total payload, and where the battery’s located, presumably subtracting ~10 kWh of battery for Australian models (or just not offering the 100 kWh pack option) but keeping the same suspension as the full size battery would suffice?
MemberSeptember 5, 2021 at 12:26 am
Perhaps the rules should be changed ….. not the car.
MemberSeptember 4, 2021 at 6:02 pm
Regarding width, what about making the wheel covers more similar to for example Arcimoto (https://cdn.arcimoto.com/wp/20201221080720/Red.jpg)? Seems like the easiest solution to me, not sure how much of a difference in width and aerodynamic properties it would cause though.
MemberSeptember 4, 2021 at 7:50 pm
If Aptera’s brain trust already has a yet to be revealed plan to address European compliance, then these changes or at least some of them, might happen. However, if there is no current plan to address this issue, then I believe they will proceed with production as is currently known and simply sell to wherever their vehicle will be accepted for sale as is. That might mean Europe ends up waiting for the 4 wheeled Aptera with a presumably narrower track that will probably follow sometime after 2024. Here are 3 unofficial artist renderings of what the 4 wheeled Aptera sedan might look like.
MemberSeptember 5, 2021 at 1:16 pm
old forum had ideas like changing the seating layout, from what i rerember one of them was making the front end narrower for weight and areodynamics by assuming occupants always have their legs in a arrow position (imagine looking from above car), thus allow narrower front end that eventually widens toward the middle of car to accommodate the wider thigh and hip and shoulder part of people. im not sure how that would be ergonomically in terms of the need to spread legs apart. this is like ariel atom 4s.
another one was this steering wheel alternative: https://www.aptera.us/community/discussion/wheel-yoke-or-stick/ which would alow full range steering with no need to move arms around as much at least for more sudden maneuvers.
in the drawing: driver laterally in center of car and passenger behind him facing the rear. such could be doubled to create 4 seater, where it would have advantage vs normal 4 seater with less mass and potentially better areodynamics, and heater/AC works more efficiently in smaller spaces. the arrow represents wind flow going from under car, looping in between passenger and driver before flowing toward end of car, as a cooling method assuming batteries or combustion battery or a hydrogen thing sits there. i guess it could be applied in a boat too. this woudl also give a more mid engined sport car handling even with 3 or 4 passenger.
another was seating position sort of like the electric nissan deltawing GT concept,similar to GMA T.50. it would be wide but maybe the overall teardrop shape would pay off
MemberSeptember 8, 2021 at 10:40 am
another idea for compensating for minimal space between driver and passenger, it having a thin barrier between them so occupants dont touch. i think people dont want to touch in uber/lyft etc, people like private space especially in a increasingly anti social society (b/c ease of making new identities on internet makes building a reputation less necessary, if your gen Z you were probably raised on internet a lot more than social interaction in physical reality), the passenger behind driver facing back ward concept here happens to be more friendly to that.
MemberSeptember 6, 2021 at 1:23 pm
MemberSeptember 6, 2021 at 3:43 pm
The width concerns me also even though I live in the US. I’m not a truck guy and I’m not very good at parallel parking. I ordered the driver’s assist, I hope it will do a good job of keeping me in my lane. Would be nice if all three wheels were steerable to make parking easier, doubt that they can do that in the early cars but as a future enhancement it would be nice.
MemberSeptember 7, 2021 at 1:42 am
Joshua, I am good at parallel parking, but I think it will be even easier with the Aptera as you won’t have to get the rear wheel over as far before you swing the front in (if backing in). You will want the front wheel close to the curb but back won’t matter as much.
MemberSeptember 6, 2021 at 10:16 pm
I’m wondering how it will look like in real life. I often communicate in chats now and I have the impression that women care about what kind of car I have. This is the opinion I read here. Therefore, it is so important for me to understand the final design, although I myself pay more attention to the quality of the mechanisms.
MemberSeptember 7, 2021 at 8:26 am
I recall Chris saying something in one of the webinars that they might get an exemption to the width regulations due to being a low volume manufacturer. My concern is that they’re thinking of this as a solution to the legal problem rather than reducing the width to solve the practical problem.
Here’s a link to the relevant section… https://youtu.be/yIuv_igjfLI?t=2874
MemberSeptember 7, 2021 at 8:41 am
This is exactly my concern as well. I feel connected to the whole Aptera philosophy, design, efficiency approach, solar and so on, investing in it, but actually it dawns me that this car is inpractical in my area if it remains unchanged for European market. To put it in other words if I find a parking lot, the tire pants might be hit by some cyclist on the first night out … or feel squeezed on a narrow highway lane work site.
MemberSeptember 8, 2021 at 7:47 am
I agree, this is my concern as well. I wonder if there’s enough demand for the Aptera in the US alone, then it doesn’t really matter all that much, otherwise I think they will probably have to do something about the size.
MemberSeptember 8, 2021 at 10:03 am
As a practical matter I don’t see how they can think about exports for several years. Aptera has avoided raising huge amounts of money so that they can maintain control. Rivian by contrast has raised $10.5B and they are about to do an $80B IPO which will allow them to jump into all markets simultaneously, Lucid has raised a billion from the Saudi’s and another $4.5 in with their SPAC, which is enough for them to go all out. Aptera by contrast has raised pennies. In the next couple of years “export” for Aptera means anything out if California. They have to figure out how to provide service and how to provide test drives in regions outside of their own, that’s going to be a big task for them given how little money they’ve raised.
MemberSeptember 8, 2021 at 3:12 pm
They could book test drives through the Aptera website. Outside California they could drive cars owned by volunteer Aptera owners ….. then pay the Aptera owner a finders fee if the tester buys an Aptera….. not sure about insurance.
MemberSeptember 8, 2021 at 10:43 am
I wonder if any of the Beta or Gamma models will be constructed to EU specs? If they’ve even worked that out by now.
MemberSeptember 13, 2021 at 4:21 pm
88 inch or 2235 mm isn’t exceptionally wide by European standards. The total width (mirrors included) of some cars that are popular in here in Europe ;
Audi Q7 2212 mm , BMW X5 2218 mm , BMW X6 2212 mm , BMW X7 2218 mm , Citroën Spacetourer/Peugeot Traveller/Opel Zafira Life 2204 mm , Land Rover Discovery 2220 mm , Range Rover Sport 2220 mm , Range Rover 2220 mm , Mercedes V – Class 2249 mm , Renault Trafic 2283 mm , Tesla Model X 2271 mm , Volkswagen Transporter 2297 mm.
I don’t see a practical or regulatory problem.
MemberSeptember 14, 2021 at 7:31 am
That’s an interesting point… I didn’t realize these cars with mirrors were so wide. I keep thinking it’s a little bit of a problem then I think it’s no problem then I go back and forth in my head…
I think I just need to drive one and see a bunch of youtube reviews.
MemberSeptember 14, 2021 at 7:52 am
What’s the width without mirrors? Mirrors don’t matter, they are up high and take very little space. When parking two cars next to each other they don’t interfere with the doors of the other car.
MemberSeptember 14, 2021 at 8:10 am
I Fully agree. Last time I saw a Lamborghini parked at a shopping center in the Netherlands, no problems whatsoever.
If a Lamborghini can park, an Aptera can do as well.
MemberSeptember 15, 2021 at 6:50 am
The average width of over 250 car models including mirrors is 2050 mm (80.7″) and excluding 1812 mm (71,3″). Source: German motorist club.
Two “normal” cars on that list are wider than an Aptera but only with mirrors out: Renault Trafic III Combi (2285 mm) and Mercedes V-Klasse (2255). Tesla Model S (2200 mm) is almost as wide as the Aptera (2235).
In my road I guess it would feel a bit like parking a bus. And people are sensible about cars claiming too much space in the city over here (if they are not brutal against them). So yes: I would welcome a less wide European version but do not expect it though.
MemberSeptember 16, 2021 at 11:14 am
I live in the west of Ireland in a rural area. The 2.2m width is a problem. Not just a regulatory problem, a driving problem. I find the 2m width of the Model 3 to be uncomfortable to drive. I’d honestly prefer a 1.8m width on most of the roads I drive.
I put my deposit down on the Aptera hoping to switch to it from my Model 3 for two main reasons: a smaller car and range. Being an even wider car is a problem for me.
If some folks on the Aptera design team want to pop over to Ireland I’m happy to drive them around and they can see how uncomfortable a 2m wide car is. They’ll see what I mean the first time they encounter a tractor/bus/lorry on L and R roads – and quite a few N roads.