Relaunched Aptera electric cars get thousands of pre-orders

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2021/01/08/relaunched-aptera-electric-cars-get-thousands-of-pre-orders.html

2 Likes

It is not a “car”.
The primary reason it has 3 wheels is to skirt crash testing requirements.
It is considered an "enclosed motorcycle" or “trike”
So you need a Motorcycle License to operate it in most states. You also may need a helmet in some states as well.

That is assuming this ever launches at all.

5 Likes

The future,
I’m in it.

3 Likes

There is good reason most cars have four wheels. Cornering stability is severely compromised with the single rear wheel. I say having owned a three wheel EV which I got rid of for safety reasons.

1 Like

It’s basically a high-tech version of the bubble cars that were popular in Europe in the 1950s.

That said, I like the idea if it actually happens and is decent. I don’t drive a lot and have no place to plug in a car that needs charging.

1 Like

Aptera and some other high-efficiency vehicles

3 Likes

Thanks for the clarification. I thought that it looked about as crash-worthy as a take-out container.

2 Likes

The three quarter view looks hideous, like it has a giant tumor sticking out of the side.

I really wish they would stop saying “take drag down to zero”, I cringe every time. It’s like saying “what if we built a perpetual motion machine, that’d be great right?”.

It’s built like a Formula One vehicle, so in an accident the whole thing will disintegrate around you.

I do like their talk about keeping all of the repair manuals open.

They talk a big game about not being a toy for rich people, and then the cars run from $26k to over $50k. Most amusing optional add-on: the Off-Road kit, for eco nerds who want to take their heavy thin wheeled trike on the trail. Second most amusing is some kind of integrated tent system like the original Aztek.

Not mentioned in the video: How much storage space you get. How many cubic feet of trunk/frunk does it have? Not even the spec sheet will tell.

1 Like

It could be worse. It could have the single wheel be up front like the Reliant Robin.

5 Likes

The European Bubblecars and Microcars existed primarily because:
1: Driving an enclosed scooter was OK because everyone was already driving scooters. So these were a step up.
2: Economy was in shambles and most people could not afford a “real” car.
3: Raw materials were also scarce.
4: Tax laws and Licensing requirements in GB and some other countries favored 3-wheeled vehicles over 4-wheel. That’s why GB Isettas are all 3-wheelers (except for a few early models) and also a few places like Sweden. The tax laws in places like Germany favored vehicles with engines 250cc or less. The bulk of the vintage microcars from Germany are all 249cc 2-strokes. Their exported models got 400cc motors.

There was a need for them at the time. People took advantage of loopholes and made things work. No one drives them around any more.

The Aptera is kind of like the Smart Car in some respects.
I was driving a Smart in the USA long before they were officially allowed (it was here on a “Tourist Visa” believe it or not). It got a lot of attention. Lots of people would say
"That’s what EVERYONE should be driving!".
But when I asked if they would buy one, or if they would buy one for their kid to drive, their answer was always “Oh no, I want my kid wrapped in as much steel as possible! That thing is a Death Trap!” So basically it was the perfect car for everyone…ELSE.

When the Smart was finally introduced to the USA, there were waiting lists for THREE YEARS! But about 9 months into it, those lists disappeared. You could buy one off the lot. The ones who intially bought the Smart wanted something that said “Look At Me! I’ve got something Different!” As soon as they started showing up regularly on the street, the attraction was gone. Same thing will happen with the Aptera (if it every launches). There are a fixed number of people that will actually buy this. Just to be the “first”. They will pay top dollar. After that, the allure is gone and there will be some die-hard enthusiasts that will continue to be interested, but not enough to keep the business going.

4 Likes

Perfect for playing at being Luke Skywalker.

I been a fan of the Aptera since 2008, and I like everything about it. It has a monocoque design for safety (the car itself is your helmet), and is intended primarily as a commuter car. Of course, I drive a Fiat 500 right now [I was told by the dealer that I was the first person in Atlanta to buy one (in July 2011)], so I could be classified a weirdo.

5 Likes

They’ve actually put in more safety features than I expected - a pretty serious frame, airbags, etc. It’s not a motorcycle in that respect.

I’m guessing it’s because it was pretty shitty compared to the European model - once it was made to conform to US crash standards, it became bigger, heavier and the gas mileage wasn’t that great. The efficiencies were due to its small size and light weight, so when those were gone, it suddenly just became a regular car but with no interior space.

5 Likes

Not all 3-wheelers are created equal, and some can handle some very aggressive cornering. I’m curious, what type did you have?

I don’t know how stable the Aptera is but, for example, a Polaris Slingshot is definitely not in the same universe as a Reliant Robin.

7 Likes

Last month, Aptera announced they were taking orders for their three-wheeled electric vehicles with solar panel options that allow for a “never charge” experience for low-mileage commuters, etc.

“Low” as in “Less than 1” I am guessing. “Slap a solar panel on it” is an ethos which has driven sales for mobile device power banks for years, and as yet hasn’t added any real value (that I am aware).

2 Likes

Their website says the panels will add between 16 and 40 miles a day depending on how many you install. Presumably those figures are for a clear day in the middle of summer in southern California when you’re parked on a naked mountaintop.

Most people probably won’t be able to completely avoid plugging the thing in, but it would likely last for two or three days without being charged. The solar panel options are surprisingly affordable. $900 for the deluxe three panel package, so there’s a decent chance they would pay for themselves before the vehicle is retired.

3 Likes

Nice little travelogue of San Diego in the video. When he says, “Next time you think of running down to the grocery store,” he doesn’t address where you’re going to put the groceries.

1 Like

This was my experience exactly shopping at the time. Toyota Yaris as well. European diesel got crazy good mpg but couldn’t get that in the US (IIRC it was an emissions thing). If it’s not going to get crazy good mpg and it’s not going to be significantly cheaper, no point in buying the teeny tiny little car.

4 Likes

Yeah, I was excited when they said they were bringing it to the US, as the European version was small enough that it could be parked in different ways, was highly fuel efficient, and cheap, too. The US version was none of these, and my interest evaporated instantly.

1 Like

European diesels got to lie about their emissions which helped the MPGs a fair bit.

8 Likes