Any thoughts on Aptera?

My Nissan Leaf Forum

Help Support My Nissan Leaf Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

yoobb

Member
Joined
Dec 15, 2010
Messages
9
After searching this forum (after a long hiatus), I find the last mention of Aptera was July 2023, and the one before that in December 2022. Should I be surprised that Aptera is not discussed more actively here?

I was a proud owner of a 2011 LEAF, but sold it after 24k miles because the (modestly) degraded range was no longer meeting my range needs. Other than the range anxiety, I really liked my LEAF. If only it had longer range, I could still be happily driving it today. I still admire Nissan for introducing the first affordable mass produced EV.

Before I bought my LEAF, I was a very hopeful reservation holder for the original Aptera, which was to be available as both plug-in hybrid and all-electric models at the time. The original Aptera company had to liquidate because their three-wheel design could not qualify for a critical DOE loan (which Tesla got instead). The new Aptera company (re-formed by the original founders) has had much better success in raising funds, but remains (almost) a year away from production deliveries.

Is anybody here considering an Aptera? In case you haven't kept up with the news, Aptera is currently working on a 400 mile EV, to be sold to initial customers in late 2024, with mass production (10k - 20k units/year) following in 2025. Their current design (both vehicle design, and manufacturing process) are much more mature and robust than their original effort, and could reshape how the wider industry builds cars.

(Shameless plug: I can get you 30% off the $100 reservation fee, if you're interested. PM me for link.)
 
I've got a reservation in but to be honest, it doesn't seem like that great a deal anymore. Without an EV incentive, at $33K it's a hard sell. For not much more there are a lot of EV's with 4-5 seats and a larger trunk. Of course there's a 400 mile range and solar charging to think about but it falls into the same class as a Miata. A lot will depend on the acceleration and handling. If it's fun enough to drive, it could carve a niche market but otherwise it's a 2 seater town car for errands or commuting. Maybe a second car but not your only car. Likewise not a car for your teenager (too much power in the car, not enough brains in the Teen). On the other hand a Harley or a Goldwing goes for 25-30K so maybe there's a market for those who are tired of bugs in their teeth. Can Am goes for about the same so maybe there's a market there as well. If Aptera sells 10K a year in full production, I'll be surprised. If they can't sell that many then they won't be profitable. They need to sell 20-30K annually to do well.
 
I was also a reservation holder for an Aptera back in 2008, but they never produced the vehicle. They refunded my $500 deposit, and I ended up ordering one of the very first Leafs delivered to the US in Feb. 2011. I owned that car until 2018 when the range had dropped by about 50% (with 65K miles on it if I remember correctly). I retired that year, so I no longer had any use for a commute car. I sold it immediately for about $2500 just to get rid of it. By contrast, my wife still drives her 2005 Prius that now has 150K miles on it, and costs very little to maintain. At one point we had to replace the hybrid battery for $2500.

Looking back on the experience, I'm glad that I had the experience of owning an EV during those early years. When surveying the current situation for EVs, I don't see myself buying another. There are several reasons:
1. range is far more important for me now that I'm retired. I don't drive much, but when I do it's typically a fairly long distance. The charging infrastructure is still not particularly good to support my usage.
2. my marginal cost of electricity at my home is now $0.54/kwh because I'm a PG&E customer. I'm not a candidate for rooftop solar. That makes driving an EV barely competitive with driving a thrifty hybrid like a Prius. When I was working I could charge at work for free, but no longer.
3. most new EVs seem to be quite expensive.

I realize that saying that here is may draw a lot of criticism because forums like this are full of enthusiasts. I think EVs have a very important place in the transportation landscape, but they are not a panacea and they don't fit everyone's needs. The industry and infrastructure still have a long ways to go. Innovations like the Aptera are interesting to enthusiasts, but are unlikely to make a change in how people transport themselves.
 
Even at $.54/KWH an Aptera would cost about half as much to operate as a Prius plus you get free charging if you can park it in the sun. Much lower maintenance costs (no oil changes or tune ups) as well. Aptera appears to priced similarly to most hybrids. Since Aptera will use NACS, charging should not be a problem. Biggest problem with the Aptera is the 2 seat configuration. It's not a people hauler, more of a sports car. That won't bother some people but for other people it's a no-go. If Aptera can make it to production (and it is still an if) and make their price point then we'll see if there really is a market for it.

It would help immensely it they could convince DOT to change the rules to allow them to be eligible for an EV rebate of some kind.
 
FYI if you buy an electric car PG&E will allow you to move to time of use vs. what you have today, it will reduce your cost per kwt by 75% when you charge the car in the midnight-3pm timeframe. My 21' Leaf has a timer so we plug her in and starts to charge at 12:01, so it is about $3-4 per full charge...not even a Prius can do that. But if your goal is longer drives the Leaf ain't the right car, Prius Prime (24' is huge improvement) or buy a Tesla for the charging network.
 
But if your goal is longer drives the Leaf ain't the right car,
This isn't entirely true or the case for some if not many owners. I've made multiple drives 300 miles in a day (one charge) or an overnight with trickle charge and had no more concern or stress as I would have with an ICE. True, longer trips with multiple charges aren't ideal, but they can be done. The bottom line is longer is relative. Would I want to drive cross country? No. There are many places I can go and find CHAdeMO chargers along the way.
 
FYI if you buy an electric car PG&E will allow you to move to time of use vs. what you have today, it will reduce your cost per kwt by 75% when you charge the car in the midnight-3pm timeframe. My 21' Leaf has a timer so we plug her in and starts to charge at 12:01, so it is about $3-4 per full charge...not even a Prius can do that. But if your goal is longer drives the Leaf ain't the right car, Prius Prime (24' is huge improvement) or buy a Tesla for the charging network.
PG&E TOU rates for charging are higher than you think. The lowest rate is $.34/KWH. Assuming a 35KWH charge the cost is $11.90, for a 50KWH charge it's $17.00. Still cheaper than filling the Prius but not by much ($.10/mi vs $.12/mi). You need PV and batteries to really save money.
 
Even at $.54/KWH an Aptera would cost about half as much to operate as a Prius plus you get free charging if you can park it in the sun. Much lower maintenance costs (no oil changes or tune ups) as well. Aptera appears to priced similarly to most hybrids. Since Aptera will use NACS, charging should not be a problem. Biggest problem with the Aptera is the 2 seat configuration. It's not a people hauler, more of a sports car. That won't bother some people but for other people it's a no-go. If Aptera can make it to production (and it is still an if) and make their price point then we'll see if there really is a market for it.
I was initially enthusiastic about the Aptera because it would have been my commuter car, but it's definitely a niche. The Aptera is perhaps better compared to a motorcycle than a Prius, because the Aptera is much less functional than an older Prius. As I remember, the Aptera was intended to be licensed as a motorcycle (and not subject to crash testing). Sadly the newer Prius has much less interior space, so my wife decided to keep her old one. An older car is also always the cheapest to operate anyway, because there is no longer any capital cost. I figure I'm spending about $600/year on fuel for the Prius. I think my monthly electric bill is now about $250.

The time of day rate from PG&E is quite useless to me because I have a solar pool heater that has to run in the afternoon. I would get lower electric rates at night to charge the car, but the pool pump is my biggest electricity consumer. The top cost per kwh under the EV-B plan is now $.73, so I would pay through the nose to capture afternoon sun to warm the pool. There is also no roof space left for photovoltaic solar panels. I could get rid of the pool, but removal would cost about $20K (not counting landscaping), and my wife uses it every day during the summer.

The lower yearly maintenance cost was certainly attractive (I also have a Porsche, so I'm well aware of how expensive maintenance can be). Still, the combination of all these factors led me to the conclusion that an EV doesn't make sense for me right now. I think they definitely have a place in our transportation portfolio, and my situation might change in the future. Each person needs to evaluate their needs, economics, and lifestyle choices to decide what suits them. Unfortunately a lot of the FUD and enthusiast sentiment makes it difficult for some people to do this. I find it easier to just drive less.
 
Back
Top