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Published on January 19th, 2009 | by Karen Pease

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The Skinny on Aptera: Top Aptera Execs Chat With EVCast

Aptera 2eIt seems there’s always a hunger among electric-vehicle enthusiasts for new information about the Aptera 2e, that composite-skinned energy sipper that looks like the future, where everyone’s wearing jumpsuits and has numbers as last names and crystals embedded in their palms that turn black on Lastday.

Unfortunately, the company tends not to be very talkative, so it’s those rare events where they go public that offer the most details. With their recent appearance on EVcast, they certainly didn’t disappoint. A transcript of the show follows.

Highlights and new information:

* The first production-intent vehicle was finished yesterday.

* The delay was mainly due to quality control issues. They decided a delay was better than earning a bad reputation, especially in this climate.

* Ten percent of customers have locked in their deposits, and the number is still growing.

* The front-wheel-drive switch was done in January (this was already confirmed by Steve on the forum)

* The doors open wider for simpler ingress/egress

* The exclusion of the Aptera from the PHEV tax credit “sucked a lot”, but the company is still working with lawmakers to change it.

* Battery pack will be lithium iron phosphate “and pixie dust”. The company is not willing to disclose the manufacturer yet. LiP cells are made by US companies like A123 and Valence, as well as Chinese companies like ThunderSky, and are generally considered to be among the safest, longest-life forms of lithium-ion batteries.

* The engineering team is working to incorporate the new standard SAE Yazaki charge connector, but initial vehicles will ship with a standard plug that can be adapted to fit existing outlets.

* Crash testing results are not out yet, and won’t be until the testing stage is done.

* Price still ranges from $25-$45k depending on options and powertrains; there will be “a number of powertrains” and a lot of interior options.

* First public test drives will be available to participants of the TED conference in early February

* Sales outside California will begin 9 to 12 months after sales in California commence.

* The company is having no funding problems and should not have any need for additional funding to get into prodiction. They are, however, preparing another fundraising round just in case.

* They think they’re a shoo-in to win the Progressive Automotive X-Prize

* There will be a new newsletter next week.

——————————————————

Bo: Friday, January 16th, 2009. Hello, everybody and welcome to another edition of the EVCast! I’m Bo Bennett

Ryan: I’m Ryan Levesque

Bo: And this is episode #156 of the EVCast. Friday edition of the EVCast, and the day before the weekend. Monday is going to be a holiday, just wanted to let everybody know right now, and I think we’ll do something Monday.

Ryan: Yeah, we could do something by Skype. Neither of us are going to be in the office, but we’ll figure something out.

Bo: It’s important to get that Monday news out.

Ryan: A special Martin Luther King edition.

Bo: Yeah. And, through the magic of editing, we are going to be inserting our interview that we did after this live broadcast with Aptera, the gentleman from Aptera. Who did we speak with?

Ryan: We had the chance to speak with Marques McCammon, who is the Chief Marketting Officer of Aptera, and as you’ll hear in just a few moments, partway through the interview, we were honored to be joined by Aptera co-founder and Chief Technical Officer Steve Fambro.

Bo: Yeah, that’s great, and thanks to all the listeners again, we got all your questions. We went through them, we picked out some good ones to ask, and we fired away. So here you go, enjoy the interview with Aptera.

Continued on the next page


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About the Author

Karen is a software developer who spends her spare time developing tools to advance green technologies -- EV charger databases, solar power economics calculators, EV/PHEV simulators, etc. She can be reached by email or by phone: karen@rechargeamerica.net 319-337-8815



  • http://www.gogreentube.com Beth

    I am so excited about this car!! I am thrilled to hear they are getting closer to selling them to the public.

  • http://www.gogreentube.com Beth

    I am so excited about this car!! I am thrilled to hear they are getting closer to selling them to the public.

  • Aptera

    Nice to see the whole interview posted, thanks for your efforts.

    I’m underwhelmed by Aptera’s communication (Marques the marketeer is especially patronizing: “pixiedust”, really gee, thanks).

    For example: “Marques: Tell everybody that you know to call in and put down a deposit. (laughter) Aptera.com.”

    Put a deposit on what exactly? Towards what final price?

    I didn’t think the EVCast folks were offered much “news”. Aptera’s announcements provide little nourishment. As an early depositor I’m getting tired of their infantile approach to communication.

    Love them or hate them, Tesla did a much better job of communicating with folks during their development phase and after. Aptera makes me feel like I’m in Nursery school. Oh well, guess it’s my nap time now.

  • Aptera

    Nice to see the whole interview posted, thanks for your efforts.

    I’m underwhelmed by Aptera’s communication (Marques the marketeer is especially patronizing: “pixiedust”, really gee, thanks).

    For example: “Marques: Tell everybody that you know to call in and put down a deposit. (laughter) Aptera.com.”

    Put a deposit on what exactly? Towards what final price?

    I didn’t think the EVCast folks were offered much “news”. Aptera’s announcements provide little nourishment. As an early depositor I’m getting tired of their infantile approach to communication.

    Love them or hate them, Tesla did a much better job of communicating with folks during their development phase and after. Aptera makes me feel like I’m in Nursery school. Oh well, guess it’s my nap time now.

  • Rei

    “Put a deposit on what exactly?”

    The Aptera 2e, pictured above.

    “Towards what final price?”

    A base price of $25k, and up to $45k if you load it up with all options and the most expensive powertrain.

    ” “pixiedust”, really gee, thanks”

    I know you’d love all development information released at all stages, right away. So would their competitors. Stating more would either give away the manufacturer or any power buffering scheme used.

    I know waiting is always painful. But for now, it’s still waiting time. I know that won’t make you happy, but that’s the reality of the situation.

    FYI, Tesla had no competition during their development phase. Aptera is going to be out in the US before virtually all of its competitors, but the critical distinction is that there actually *are* competitors this time. A more appropriate comparison would be Tesla’s Model S, not the Roadster. Can you, for example, state the chemistry of Tesla’s Model S? Or the exact price a person who wants X options will pay? Or anything of that nature?

  • Rei

    “Put a deposit on what exactly?”

    The Aptera 2e, pictured above.

    “Towards what final price?”

    A base price of $25k, and up to $45k if you load it up with all options and the most expensive powertrain.

    ” “pixiedust”, really gee, thanks”

    I know you’d love all development information released at all stages, right away. So would their competitors. Stating more would either give away the manufacturer or any power buffering scheme used.

    I know waiting is always painful. But for now, it’s still waiting time. I know that won’t make you happy, but that’s the reality of the situation.

    FYI, Tesla had no competition during their development phase. Aptera is going to be out in the US before virtually all of its competitors, but the critical distinction is that there actually *are* competitors this time. A more appropriate comparison would be Tesla’s Model S, not the Roadster. Can you, for example, state the chemistry of Tesla’s Model S? Or the exact price a person who wants X options will pay? Or anything of that nature?

  • Doug

    Of course Aptera will be out first because they went the 3 wheel route. This allowed them to skip the crash testing phase.

  • Doug

    Of course Aptera will be out first because they went the 3 wheel route. This allowed them to skip the crash testing phase.

  • Aptera

    “I know waiting is always painful. But for now, it’s still waiting time. I know that won’t make you happy, but that’s the reality of the situation.”

    No, I’m not in pain, just losing interest. As an early believer and depositor I’m losing respect for the company with each “newsletter” and web site “upgrade”.

    I’m concerned that as an owners they’ll continue to treat us like children. It’s not the delay (expected that) it’s the b.s. What began as a “hell yeah!” for me 14 months ago is devolving into a “meh”. That’s not the way marketing is supposed to work.

  • Aptera

    “I know waiting is always painful. But for now, it’s still waiting time. I know that won’t make you happy, but that’s the reality of the situation.”

    No, I’m not in pain, just losing interest. As an early believer and depositor I’m losing respect for the company with each “newsletter” and web site “upgrade”.

    I’m concerned that as an owners they’ll continue to treat us like children. It’s not the delay (expected that) it’s the b.s. What began as a “hell yeah!” for me 14 months ago is devolving into a “meh”. That’s not the way marketing is supposed to work.

  • jim jones

    I think all this secrecy on the specs of the vehicle is absurd…Chrysler is coming out with the Dogdge Circuit in 2009 or 2010 and you can view all the specs from

    A to Z on the internet.

  • jim jones

    I think all this secrecy on the specs of the vehicle is absurd…Chrysler is coming out with the Dogdge Circuit in 2009 or 2010 and you can view all the specs from

    A to Z on the internet.

  • Bill

    I agree with the comments about Aptera’s marketing and communication in the second post, I am also an early deposit holder and Aptera has consistently had terrible and misleading communication. Most of the press and related material from outside sources such as this article which has been written by die hard Aptera fan rather than an objective reviewer, this includes others like Popular Mechanics. I love this vehicle and the concept but Aptera has been nothing short of unprofessional and misleading about delivery time lines and delays. By the way the delays were not do to the above stated reasons and the delays are a full year. Aptera states the first production “intent” vehicle was released on the 16th but it really it is just another test vehicle. They claim now October as the new date but we will see. If they were straight forward they would not have so many upset customers. In addition the reservations are not really growing and they are now seeing many cancellations recently. I wish they would hire some real professionals over there who know how to communicate with customers. They have no idea how many people are seriously contemplating canceling.

    Get it together Aptera, what you don’t know is hurting you! PS. They do treat their deposit holders like children.

  • Bill

    I agree with the comments about Aptera’s marketing and communication in the second post, I am also an early deposit holder and Aptera has consistently had terrible and misleading communication. Most of the press and related material from outside sources such as this article which has been written by die hard Aptera fan rather than an objective reviewer, this includes others like Popular Mechanics. I love this vehicle and the concept but Aptera has been nothing short of unprofessional and misleading about delivery time lines and delays. By the way the delays were not do to the above stated reasons and the delays are a full year. Aptera states the first production “intent” vehicle was released on the 16th but it really it is just another test vehicle. They claim now October as the new date but we will see. If they were straight forward they would not have so many upset customers. In addition the reservations are not really growing and they are now seeing many cancellations recently. I wish they would hire some real professionals over there who know how to communicate with customers. They have no idea how many people are seriously contemplating canceling.

    Get it together Aptera, what you don’t know is hurting you! PS. They do treat their deposit holders like children.

  • Rei

    “The delays were not do to the above stated reasons”

    Only if you consider what the company stated a lie (check the transcript).

    “but it really is just another test vehicle”

    Only if you consider what the company stated a lie (check the transcript)

  • Rei

    “The delays were not do to the above stated reasons”

    Only if you consider what the company stated a lie (check the transcript).

    “but it really is just another test vehicle”

    Only if you consider what the company stated a lie (check the transcript)

  • Rei

    ” I think all this secrecy on the specs of the vehicle is absurd…Chrysler is coming out with the Dogdge Circuit in 2009 or 2010 and you can view all the specs from

    A to Z on the internet.”

    So, who’s making its battery pack? What battery pack chemistry? When is first delivery? What options will be available, and how much will it cost with a given subset of options? What’s its crash test results? Surely if you’re trying to make a point about Aptera, I’d think you’d pick a vehicle for which the stats that people are criticizing Aptera for not having released have been released, no? Just the very fact that you have a two year range in your release dates (sometime in ’09 or ’10) didn’t occur to you?

  • Rei

    ” I think all this secrecy on the specs of the vehicle is absurd…Chrysler is coming out with the Dogdge Circuit in 2009 or 2010 and you can view all the specs from

    A to Z on the internet.”

    So, who’s making its battery pack? What battery pack chemistry? When is first delivery? What options will be available, and how much will it cost with a given subset of options? What’s its crash test results? Surely if you’re trying to make a point about Aptera, I’d think you’d pick a vehicle for which the stats that people are criticizing Aptera for not having released have been released, no? Just the very fact that you have a two year range in your release dates (sometime in ’09 or ’10) didn’t occur to you?

  • electronsf

    I think Ms. Rei, nee Pearce, nee parrot lover is working for the company as their official cheerleader and should not be trusted. Why does Aptera not directly address the concerns of their buyers?

    I agree with many of the non-Karen posts above. Why the huge secrecy and unacceptable delays??

  • electronsf

    I think Ms. Rei, nee Pearce, nee parrot lover is working for the company as their official cheerleader and should not be trusted. Why does Aptera not directly address the concerns of their buyers?

    I agree with many of the non-Karen posts above. Why the huge secrecy and unacceptable delays??

  • Bill

    A lie, yes marketing BS, stating half truths, whatever you want to call it. why do you think more people are upset with them then not. What, do you think everything they say is he truth? You are brainwashed.

  • Bill

    A lie, yes marketing BS, stating half truths, whatever you want to call it. why do you think more people are upset with them then not. What, do you think everything they say is he truth? You are brainwashed.

  • Carbon Buildup

    Karen,

    Hellllooooo, are you awake? If this many people are frustrated with Aptera, then that means there is a problem. I’m NOT an Aptera depositor, but I can see part of the problem just by looking at Aptera’s stupid half-baked web site. They really don’t tell you much, and the whole thing looks like it was designed to entertain a 4th grader. YOU need to learn some manners as a blogger and stop belittling your readers. Otherwise when people see your by-line, they’ll ignore your story.

  • Carbon Buildup

    Karen,

    Hellllooooo, are you awake? If this many people are frustrated with Aptera, then that means there is a problem. I’m NOT an Aptera depositor, but I can see part of the problem just by looking at Aptera’s stupid half-baked web site. They really don’t tell you much, and the whole thing looks like it was designed to entertain a 4th grader. YOU need to learn some manners as a blogger and stop belittling your readers. Otherwise when people see your by-line, they’ll ignore your story.

  • Karen Pease

    Carbon: My apologies if any of my posts came across as uncivil. Gas2.org bloggers are encouraged to discuss issues at hand with their readers in the comments section.

  • DensityDuck

    I’m waiting for the crash-test results.

    Well, actually, that’s not quite true. I’m waiting to see them smash the side with a sledgehammer, fix it for less than ten thousand dollars, and THEN crash test it with the same safety result as a pristine vehicle right out of the factory.

  • DensityDuck

    I’m waiting for the crash-test results.

    Well, actually, that’s not quite true. I’m waiting to see them smash the side with a sledgehammer, fix it for less than ten thousand dollars, and THEN crash test it with the same safety result as a pristine vehicle right out of the factory.

  • http://hucbald.blogspot.com/ Hucbald

    I’m sure glad I don’t live in California, or I might be a frustrated depositor. As it is, I know I’ll have to wait until they sell outside of CA anyway, by which time this discussion will be moot.

    I must say, the front wheel drive switch comes as a surprise, though. I would think that would add quite a bit of weight versus the belt drive rear final. Sure, you get chassis jacking with that setup, but I can’t really see the Aptera as anything other than a fair weather road vehicle anyway (Try to imagine an Aptera in snow… LOL!).

    This vehicle will fit into my “fleet” perfectly: I have a Quad Cab 4×4 pickup and a Beemer, but nothing in between. Plus, it can carry all the gear I need for a gig.

    I’d take it from SA to Tucson, but not to CO. ;^)

  • http://hucbald.blogspot.com/ Hucbald

    I’m sure glad I don’t live in California, or I might be a frustrated depositor. As it is, I know I’ll have to wait until they sell outside of CA anyway, by which time this discussion will be moot.

    I must say, the front wheel drive switch comes as a surprise, though. I would think that would add quite a bit of weight versus the belt drive rear final. Sure, you get chassis jacking with that setup, but I can’t really see the Aptera as anything other than a fair weather road vehicle anyway (Try to imagine an Aptera in snow… LOL!).

    This vehicle will fit into my “fleet” perfectly: I have a Quad Cab 4×4 pickup and a Beemer, but nothing in between. Plus, it can carry all the gear I need for a gig.

    I’d take it from SA to Tucson, but not to CO. ;^)

  • http://islandturtle.blogspot.com Corky Boyd

    For all the startup EV companies, the crucial question is the warranty on the batteries. If it is insufficient, you are looking at a major cost item when the batteries go, far more expensive than replacing an engine in an IC powered car. The next question is whether the startups have the resources to honor their warranties.

    Most of the startups are quoting ranges based on full charge and full discharge. Beyond these points the batteries will be destroyed. Even coming close to the end points reduces the service life. This is why the GM Volt is utilizing only 50% of the 16 kWh battery pack capacity by charging only to 70% and discharging to 20%. In addition they have a very high tech coolant system using liquid coolant. Temps over 160 F are destructive to LiIons. Road surface temps in urban heat island areas during sunny summer days approach these levels.

    Toyota warrants the Prius pack for 8 years and GM is planning 10 for the Volt. Think twice about buying anything with a lesser guaranteed service life. You may find yourself still making payments on a car needing a replacement $10,000 battery pack.

    Ask yourself what the capacity of your laptop battery is now vs. when you bought it. That may give you an idea of the difficulty of maintaing batter life in an automotive application. Most laptop packs lose half their capacity in two years but fortunately cost only somewhat over a hundred bucks. Not so with automotive packs.

  • http://islandturtle.blogspot.com Corky Boyd

    For all the startup EV companies, the crucial question is the warranty on the batteries. If it is insufficient, you are looking at a major cost item when the batteries go, far more expensive than replacing an engine in an IC powered car. The next question is whether the startups have the resources to honor their warranties.

    Most of the startups are quoting ranges based on full charge and full discharge. Beyond these points the batteries will be destroyed. Even coming close to the end points reduces the service life. This is why the GM Volt is utilizing only 50% of the 16 kWh battery pack capacity by charging only to 70% and discharging to 20%. In addition they have a very high tech coolant system using liquid coolant. Temps over 160 F are destructive to LiIons. Road surface temps in urban heat island areas during sunny summer days approach these levels.

    Toyota warrants the Prius pack for 8 years and GM is planning 10 for the Volt. Think twice about buying anything with a lesser guaranteed service life. You may find yourself still making payments on a car needing a replacement $10,000 battery pack.

    Ask yourself what the capacity of your laptop battery is now vs. when you bought it. That may give you an idea of the difficulty of maintaing batter life in an automotive application. Most laptop packs lose half their capacity in two years but fortunately cost only somewhat over a hundred bucks. Not so with automotive packs.

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