A few days ago, Aptera released a monthly update. Most importantly, the company discovered its factory, which is an important sign that the company has really started production. Aptera also unveiled the next (and third) phase of the vehicle’s prototype, the Gamma, which is pretty close to production. One interesting little thing is that Aptera is trying to use Tesla’s charging connector instead of CCS, which would be another move that is very similar to Tesla for the company.
Unlike Tesla, a larger and more established company, Aptera had to do what Tesla did for its first factory: use an existing building. In Tesla’s case, the NUMMI building was large and empty, but it took a lot of work to prepare to build the Model S. In Aptera’s case, they had to take a building full of offices and tear up offices, which took a lot of work in terms of demolition and floor preparation.
Production equipment is custom-made, and Aptera plans to start scaling production later in 2022. When it grows, the large factory will focus on final assembly, while some smaller spaces the company has leased or purchased will focus on building subassemblies, such as batteries or drive.
Red Viking will move subassemblies and cars in the production process on small autonomous vehicles, making a more flexible assembly line instead of fixed lines that will require a lot of money to change when needed in the future. In addition, when things go wrong, small carts can get out of line and take the car to special works as needed, and then re-enter the queue when the vehicle is ready to resume production.
The big challenge that the company says it just licked was preparing the floor for this autonomous stroller to let go anywhere.
Charging, Tesla connector
Charging is where the biggest news is. Aptera’s biggest concern is that charging infrastructure is really lacking in the United States and that won’t change much in the near future. Aptera does not only think about charging stations, but also about the network itself and the way in which utility companies think about power. Adding a vehicle will be a challenge.
The company is also very dissatisfied with the CCS and J1772 connectors. “It wasn’t elegant at all,” said Chris Anthony, one of the company’s co-executives for the J1772 connector. He says the Tesla connector was much nicer, while DC fast charging became even more awkward and weird with CCS and CHAdeMO. Steve Fambro agreed, saying they were not happy with those connection standards.
Conclusion: Aptera thinks the United States should adopt Tesla’s connector, which tells you what it is likely to do. But, I would stop at what other houses are saying, because they didn’t really say that they would use the Tesla connector, or that they wanted to. They just think it’s better. What they actually do in the end could run into practical problems because infrastructure construction accepts CCS.
Other technical updates
As we knew earlier, Aptera gets its engine hubs from Elaphe. Along with Apter, Elaphe is also preparing and preparing for mass production to meet overall production needs. So there are whole factories being built and expanded in Europe to supply Aptera with these important parts. But most importantly, the process is ongoing, not just theoretical.
Given the company’s big goal (1000 miles with 100 kWh), it’s important to note that Elaphe is still working on adapting the final design of the Aptera engine for maximum efficiency.
Work on battery modules and packages, based on 2170 liquid-cooled cells, is also well underway. The first vehicles to hit the road will have 41 kWh of usable capacity (allowing a range of about 400 miles), followed by vehicles of 250 kWh. Then 600-mile and 1,000-mile cars will go into production. EVE Energy is working with the company to build the cells that work best for Aptera’s car.
Chassis development is also continuing to progress. Teams tortured vehicles and tried to smash them. They hit the vehicle so hard on the curbs that they tore the tire off the rim, and they want the vehicle or just the suspension not to bend under such stresses.
Wheel covers (brothers over the front tires) were a big point of criticism of the company in its videos. They are large, give the vehicle a wide, wide stance, and tend to be somehow loose and lovely in the air, swaying and swaying in the street. The company showed a video with the latest improved design, simulating different speeds and frequencies of vibrations. Now it won’t vibrate like it did until it reaches speeds of over 200 miles per hour. The vehicle has a top speed of 110 MPH, so this won’t be a problem in the real world.
As we know, the wiring on the Aptera should be very simple compared to most vehicles. The company adheres to that philosophy and works with an established company to make the most efficient belts possible. They showed a video of the low voltage test benches they use to program firmware in different controllers.
The vehicle will not have keys. It will have an RFID key card, bluetooth and a “tap” access method.
Solar cells are a bigger challenge than most would think. Solar standing still at home or at work is one thing, but something that has to deal with vibrations and other roughness that act on the vehicle is a completely different matter. Aptera is still (as during my visit there in November) still very mysterious about this, as it is something in which the company has invested a lot of research.
Gamma development vehicle
The shape of the vehicle continued to change. The shape of the fenders / wheel covers has been changed to work better with the vehicle. The same is done with the right wheel, creating less resistance on that tire. The rear of the vehicle is also made less thick to further reduce drag. Despite the fact that the vehicle became larger for passengers, the Aptera achieved less resistance than the Alpha design.
The first Gamma vehicles have not been made, but the design is ready to make this penultimate version of the vehicle, but we can expect to see it in a month or so.
The interior has also been redesigned. The controversial choice of wheel (yoke) has also been accompanied by a number of other changes. The center console will be modular, and you will be able to choose different things for different parts of the console. The interior design process used VR for testing, giving people a chance to see what it looks like before it is built, which helps to avoid space and other problems as seen with Alpha Design.
Aptera offered more details on why she chose the yoke wheel. One of the reasons was that they wanted to be futuristic, but they think their attitude towards the yoke has better ergonomics than the others we’ve seen. It also makes the vision system (cameras instead of mirrors) work better and safer.
Will Aptera offer something for people with Oculus / Meta headphones? They didn’t say, but I’d love to see that.
Finally, we’ll see four additional solar cells on the hood, and others we don’t yet know about elsewhere on the vehicle. So the available solar energy is growing!
More has been discussed, but you will have to watch the video
A number of other topics were discussed in the update, especially in the questions and answers section of the presentation. I can’t cover them all here, but I’ll embed the video below.
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Featured image: What Aptera’s factory will look like with custom equipment. Photo of Aptera.
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