I had the fantastic opportunity to speak with Aptera co-founder Chris Anthony on Friday. Our short half-hour chat highlighted production timelines, vehicle design, durability, and more.
This weekend, Aptera is taking part in the Fully loaded show, an electric vehicle convention in San Diego, where they will unveil their Gamma vehicle. According to co-CEO Chris Anthony, this vehicle is the final step before attempting to go into production next year. And while the company still has a long way to go before delivering orders, it has more than 30,000 reservation holders eagerly awaiting the vehicle’s release.
Design language –
The first question I had to ask Mr. Anthony was about the design language of Aptera’s first vehicle. Specifically, what is Aptera trying to make consumers think and feel when they first see the car?
The first thing that came to the CEO’s mind was capacity; he wants consumers to feel that Aptera is just as capable as any other vehicle and can even do more with its unique power-generating capabilities. When he had the opportunity to seat people in the vehicle, testers said the vehicle was comfortable, and Anthony hopes the vehicle’s driving dynamics will only enhance the experience even further.
Ability as a “do-it-all” vehicle –
Apart from the beautiful design of the Aptera, many are looking to buy the Aptera for its function. Coming out of COVID lockdowns, many consumers have been spending more time outside the home, hiking and mountain biking, meeting friends and family, and traveling to local events and shopping. scenic spots. How did Aptera design the capability of their vehicle to perform these tasks?
Mr Anthony points out that the car’s solar power generation and surprising amount of interior space are two key features to help people use their vehicle on a day-to-day basis. The many solar cells in the car allow the vehicle to go further and do more things, which is the ultimate goal of capability. At the same time, the vehicle’s interior is surprisingly spacious, with seven feet of space behind the front seats all the way to the tail; enough room to camp in the vehicle, throw in their mountain bikes, or just travel with their dog.
A key part of how many people interact with vehicles today is how they make them their own, customizing the look, feel and capabilities of the vehicle to best suit their needs. Aptera not only supports this goal, but actively works with third-party vendors to make this dream a reality.
The CEO clarified that Aptera would be more than willing to provide third-party accessory manufacturers with everything from dimensions to CAD files to detailed system information. He says, “We are happy to share information to help our users find [the vehicle] be more useful. As he will note later in the interview, this stems from a “right to repair mindset.”
Possible use of the Tesla connector –
Aptera previously announced that it was trying to not only include the Tesla connector on its vehicle, but also make the connector the standard US EV connector. However, it’s still unclear whether Aptera will include the connector in the vehicle, and the Tesla connector is unlikely to become the US standard.
Nevertheless, Mr. Anthony supported the engineering of the Tesla connector. Above all, he cited the connector’s ease of use and small size, which makes it much easier to maneuver than other types of connectors. But the connector also enjoys support for the vast majority of electric vehicles in the United States.
The CEO even went so far as to say that the United States should spend more money supporting Tesla supercharger locations as long as the government plans to expand electric vehicle charging anyway.
Aptera’s future goals –
It is clear that Aptera will be focused on getting into production and delivering to its over 30,000 reservation holders in the immediate future. But if the company can achieve these goals, where does the CEO see the company’s next goal?
Firstly, Mr Anthony doesn’t see the company abandoning the two-door/two-seat form factor. He argues that the Aptera is an ideal complementary car, helping you with daily commutes and essential activities that don’t require a lot of space.
Perhaps more excitingly, the CEO hinted at the possibility of several variants of the Aptera, a commercial version or a version with more cargo capacity, for example. No other details are yet known about these ideas.
Manufacturing timeline –
With the unveiling of Aptera’s Gamma vehicle this weekend, the company will now move into production as early as next year. And while the CEO acknowledged that the timeline might not be as quick as some would like, he believes in doing the process right the first time and hopefully avoiding future problems.
“We have the good graces of our reservation holders to get it right…”
With Aptera’s current production facility in California, they’re aiming to produce 20,000 units in the first year, which means filling 30,000 reservations will take about a year and a half. However, any prediction outside of the company is pure guesswork.
Consumers are looking more than ever to get the best option for them and the best choice for the planet. Automakers recognize this, and many are producing vehicles with durable interior parts, recycled metal components, and more. What does the pursuit of sustainability look like for Aptera?
The most durable material on Earth is unextracted material, Mr Anthony concluded. While others may have sought to use more durable materials, Aptera first focused on using fewer materials. Aptera achieves this by producing a smaller vehicle, pursuing low curb weight and reducing the number of interior components.
The pursuit of lightweight durability also has ripple effects. Due to the vehicle’s low weight, it requires less energy to move and can therefore use fewer batteries to achieve the same range, again reducing weight (a positive feedback loop).
Ultimately, Anthony notes that fewer rare earth minerals are mined and the vehicle as a whole becomes a more sustainable option for consumers. Specifically, Aptera uses 30% of the metal found in a typical vehicle, uses recycled composite materials for its exterior body panels, and uses recycled fabrics and plastics inside.
The long-term goal is to have these vehicles on the road in 50 years through upgraded parts along the way; better batteries, improved solar cells, replaceable interior parts, etc.
Efficiency and beauty –
Manufacturers around the world have used aerodynamics to improve efficiency since the inception of the car. But perhaps more recently, due to limitations in battery capacity, this search has resulted in finding the most efficient form possible, arguably at the cost of design. While vehicles like the Lucid Air and Mercedes EQS may have looked good in previous years, with the introduction of the Volkswagen ID Aero, it’s clear that automakers are ready to trade lack of originality for efficiency.
Mr. Anthony does not think this should be the case. In his response to this issue, he notes that Aptera proves that exciting new designs can always be made in different form factors while achieving maximum efficiency.
Are small vehicles the future? –
Aptera has highlighted the many benefits of producing smaller form factor vehicles. They can be more efficient, reduce manufacturing costs, be more aerodynamic and be more durable. But are these motivating factors enough to encourage Americans to buy smaller vehicles in the future?
The CEO doesn’t believe him. Americans are obsessed with huge vehicles, as evidenced by the exceptionally high sales of SUVs and trucks. But maybe Aptera can show Americans what future transportation might look like, and if they’re willing to give it a chance, it might even change hearts and minds.
Aptera CEO Chris Anthony has been incredibly kind in giving Teslarati part of his busy schedule. If you want to learn more about the company’s vehicle, head over to their website. And if you happen to be in the San Diego area, it’s worth the trip for the Fully loaded show to discover the Aptera stand and the many other manufacturers present at the event.
William is not an Aptera Ambassador, Order Holder or Investor.
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