For those who don’t follow Aptera too closely, the company recently revealed its third and next-to-last vehicle design: Gamma. It shows not only improvements in the overall design as it relates to buyers, but also shows the work the company has done to make it easy to build and easy to repair. Here’s a short video of the public reveal:
I wasn’t able to attend the event, but they also held a media and blogger day at their in-process production facility in Carlsbad, California, where they went into much greater detail about the production process, the design changes, and everything else about the latest vehicle design. Our friends over at Mach-E Vlog (Patrick and Liv) made a longer video showing several of the presentations and speeches, which is worth checking out.
Where The Company Sits Right Now
For those who aren’t going to click the link above and watch the video, the best way I can summarize the event was that Aptera wants to prove that it is ready to get started. The company has a nearly-complete design. It’s got a factory and production plan that’s not only viable, but optimized by experts, including Sandy Munro’s company. It’s got suppliers, lined up buyers, and much more ready to go.
But, as I’ve pointed out in my last article about Aptera, it also has challenges. Having the best laid plans and designs in the world won’t do you a bit of good unless you have the resources to actually make it happen, and my most current information says it is still tens of millions of dollars short of what’s needed to build cars en masse. Bridging that gap is going to require investors and/or government loans.
This is where the last version of Aptera CleanTechnica writers covered in 2008-2012 died, so the company isn’t out of the woods yet.
The Big Thing Holding It Back: Novelty & Utility
Let’s face it: the history of 2-seater vehicles in the United States isn’t great. Weirdos like me love oddball cars like the Toyota MR2, the Pontiac Fiero, and the Mazda RX-7. Sure, I have kids, but the kids don’t always go for the ride. Plus, I have other vehicles that can do truck and SUV stuff. But, the average person doesn’t want to own 5 cars (and pay to fuel, maintain, insure, and maybe make payments on them), so they don’t give 2-seaters and motorcycles the chance they probably deserve.
This is especially true when it comes to environmental considerations. If everyone commuted to work on electric motorcycles, there’d be less congestion and lower per-passenger emissions than riding trains. And, costs would be far lower than everyone driving two tons of steel around to usually carry 1-2 people. Almost nobody rides motorcycles, but the Aptera has similar efficiency with an enclosed cabin and cargo space, making it and cars like it a great solution.
But, sadly, that doesn’t sell cars outside of the original target market for the Toyota Prius and the electric vehicles that came after it. While many of use here at CleanTechnica (both us writers and editors and you, the readers) made changes to our transportation choices years ago, we have to remember that the average person was flipping us off and making jokes about us. Some comedians’ whole acts revolved around mocking the drivers of efficient vehicles.
You gotta know that the comedians are just itching to make fun of Aptera when it hits the road and more people become aware of it. I mean, we’ve seen it before when the original hybrid Aptera design was panned for resembling a gamete.
What They Need To Do To Survive This
The company’s survival is going to depend on convincing the general public that it’s not only efficient and environmentally friendly, but that owning one will make your life better than more conventional EV options. If they can do that, then investors and/or government loans will be a lot easier to come by.
In some ways, the company has already been doing this brilliantly. Aptera has good marketing people, and they’re not stupid or lazy. Their first big public push in 2020 was to brand Aptera as a “never charge” electric vehicle, as its solar panels can make the need to plug the car in at all pretty rare (assuming half-way decent sunlight and normal commutes). For someone who owns a Tesla and has a Level 2 charging station in their garage, this may seem silly, but not everyone has a garage or the ability to even install home charging. Renters at all income levels are often left out in the cold on that.
The low price for the lowest range versions of the vehicle also make it an attractive option in the role of a commuter car. If someone already has a pickup truck, SUV, crossover, or minivan for non-commuting uses, paying only around $26k for a brand new car that can get them to work without paying for gas and possibly not having to plug it in makes for a tempting offering. They’ve got this above the “never charge” section of their website, so they know that it’s an important part of the sale.
But, there are two things that the company needs to add to the mix to really sell it to the public and get things off the ground: make it clear that the car is the best option for a couple’s road trip, and make sure people know it’s the best option for a changing and dangerous world, up to and including doomsday.
These two things may seem silly to the typical environmental reader who knows that people only rarely take road trips and isn’t a doomsday prepper, but we’re not the average person. The average person both buys their cars for the longest drives they can envision and is getting an earful of FUD about electric vehicles every day from social media, traditional media, and Republicans.
Honestly, the Aptera is the only vehicle coming to market any time soon that flies in the face of even the most dishonest and wild anti-EV FUD out there. It’s arguably better than gas- and diesel-powered vehicles for road trips, and even if the State of California were to completely lose its electric grid and descend into Mad Max post apocalyptic gay chaos, you’d still be able to drive to work (which would somehow still be open).
In Part 2 of this article, I’m going to take a crack at making the case for both of those things.
Featured image: a screenshot from Aptera’s YouTube channel showing the new Gamma production-development vehicle.
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