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Old 06-05-2009, 06:57 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Is Aptera Blowing Their Chance?

Is it really a good idea to have the beautiful and efficient design held hostage by batteries? No matter how slick it is, the vehicle simply won’t go very far on a charge. As a practical matter that makes it a strictly urban car. Slow speeds, stop and go.

In such an environment, the Aptera’s excellent aerodynamics are nearly neutralized. An electric xBox or Smart would be just as good in an urban environment – if not better.

The Aptera would really shine at freeway speeds. But freeways are for the guys with the long commutes. 30-40 miles one-way. The Aptera simply would not go that far on one charge and batteries simply need to recharge overnight. People who buy them as commuter cars are gonna be really bummed when the thing is out of juice three quarters of the way home. Poor battery performance is what killed the EV1.

The beautiful and effective aerodynamics of the Aptera did not come without paying a price. The thing cannot be cheap to make. Bodywork repairs will be exorbitant. Everytime a Civic or xBox hits an Aptera, the Aptera is probably totaled. It is certainly not capacious.

Aptera should be pushing the ICE (preferably diesel) version first instead of the electric. If a diesel Aptera could routinely get 125 MPG in commuter service, I would think there is a hellacious market for cars that could handle a 50 mile one-way commute with four gallons a week.

An Aptera powered by an ICE would be the least expensive version, and the most versatile version.

An Aptera with an engine could have a heater and proper AC and you could sell to a much wider area.

I still wonder about calling it a motorcycle. Will Ohio buyers have to wear helmets while driving an Aptera?

As we’ve seen, the auto biz is a rough neighborhood. Totally Darwinian. You can prosper for a century and still disappear overnight. One mistake is too many for a startup.

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Old 06-05-2009, 07:18 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Dave View Post
I still wonder about calling it a motorcycle. Will Ohio buyers have to wear helmets while driving an Aptera?

As we’ve seen, the auto biz is a rough neighborhood. Totally Darwinian. You can prosper for a century and still disappear overnight. One mistake is too many for a startup.
First, interesting post.

According to Jay Leno's video, it's like driving the helmet.

The businesses did not disappear overnight at all. They had been having problems they didn't confront, while paying enormous pension plans. They also weren't producing cars people liked as much. They're still going down slower than I'd like them to
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Old 06-05-2009, 07:41 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I, too, worry about this, Dave. My wife has a 37 mile commute (each way) and it's 90% highway. If Aptera made a 4 door 2x2 seater, she'd probably be persuadable to buy one. I would love one, but my commute is 15 miles each way, my car already gets 40+ mpg, and I ride my bike once a week. Hard to justify.
Also, I thought the design could be altered a bit to include some bumpers for small crash protection of the body with a minimal aero hit.
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Old 06-05-2009, 08:14 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Big Dave -

I wish the Aptera was an ICE too. They did look at a diesel, but they stated that they couldn't meet CA emissions standards.

I speculate that their motivation was to go for the Automotive X-Prize. I think they wanted a slam-dunk home-run in terms of MPG, so they went for an electric or hybrid. This detail in their brochure supports my claim :

http://www.aptera.com/brochure/APTER...E_BROCHURE.pdf (page 4)
Code:
Performance
Fuel tank (gal.)              = N/A
Fuel Economy - MPG equivalent = City / Highway: 200+
(EPA Drive Cycle/Progressive Auto X-Prize Conversion)
Range                         = Up to 100 miles per charge
From an incremental-step POV, I'll bet they could have used a Kei-car 660cc drivetrain as a base for a Gen-1 version. Or, how about a Smart drivetrain? Then, use the success from that to move to the hybrid and electric drivetrains.

I wonder what a small ICE from a pre-existing car would have done for their UMC (unit manufacturing cost)?

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Old 06-06-2009, 12:27 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Hello Dave,

I don't think that it is the battery that is holding them up -- it is more likely to be the roll down door windows, and the associated changes in the aerodynamics. They have increased the battery capacity -- it will be between 17 and 23 kWh, but I'm not sure that this is adding unduly to the delivery time.

The gas version is supposed to be a ~600cc engine from an undisclosed Japanese microcar, and so things like cooling the radiator, and the transmission setup are new design issues -- and they would still have to solve the roll down windows, too.
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Old 06-06-2009, 12:28 AM   #6 (permalink)
igo
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I thought the aptera was also going to be available in a plug-in hybrid. Or was that scraped?

Obviously the aptera is a niche car and most people will think it is strange. It is not the car for everyone.
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Old 06-06-2009, 12:30 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Hi,

No, the 2h is still going to happen...
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Old 06-06-2009, 01:57 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Do you have to have roll down?
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Old 06-06-2009, 10:15 AM   #9 (permalink)
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It's a pity they dont have a diesel on the cards. A small diesel doing hardly any work would need almost no radiator. My yaris has a mobile phone sized opening to the radiator. The yaris, i'm sure, requires much more energy to push it that an aptera. So the radiator opening on a diesel aptera would be tiny. Maybe smaller than the cabin vent?
Regarding the battery life of the aptera, i don't know the figures but given how little energy it takes to move it, it should do well. The likes of the EV1 or the tesla are reasonably conventially shaped cars. They have four wheels too, not three like the aptera. So the range of the aptera should be much better than other current ev cars. Unless the battery pack in the aptera is smaller?

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Old 06-06-2009, 10:49 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vtec-e View Post
Unless the battery pack in the aptera is smaller?

ollie
According to Jay Leno, the battery didn't decrease like other electric cars while he was driving so the claims on distance are accurate at last

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