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After 6 Years, Aptera Motors Is No More

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the market's-a-harsh-mistress dept.

The Almighty Buck 173

After years of beautiful concept cars, envy-inspiring demos, and missed production targets starting in 2008, high-efficiency car startup Aptera is liquidating its assets. A pointed excerpt from Wired's account: "The truth is, Aptera always faced long odds and has been in trouble for at least two years. The audience for a sperm-shaped, three-wheeled, electric two-seater was never anything but small. It didn’t help that production of the 2e — at one point promised for October 2009 — was continually delayed as Wilbur ordered redesigns to make it more appealing to the mainstream. Aptera had a small window in which to be a first mover in the affordable EV space, and that window closed the moment the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt hit the market. At that point, Aptera teetered on the brink of irrelevance." As a compulsive driver, I had been hoping to one day drive one of these to save gas money.

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Who? (3, Interesting)

hipp5 (1635263) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249294)

Doesn't help that I'd never heard of them.

Re:Who? (0)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249304)

I heard the name a few years ago. I just came here to point out that "an" is only to be used before words starting with a vowel, or at least a vowely sound :p You'd think an editor would have a better grasp of the English language.. :/

This.....is...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38249362)

SLASHDOT!

*kicks somersault into pit of doom for thinking slashdot editors are like real editors*

Re:Who? (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249526)

You must be new here - it's timothy.

Re:Who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38249666)

You'd think an editor would have a better grasp of the English language.. :/

Don't you mean "a editor"?

Re:Who? (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38251416)

I had. Despite what the fine article says demand was not a problem. Lots of people wanted these cars. They just couldn't deliver them.

As Usual (5, Insightful)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249300)

'was continually delayed as Wilbur ordered redesigns to make it more appealing to the mainstream.'

The perfect is the enemy of good enough.

Re:As Usual (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38249482)

It's more than that ....

Any new car maker is going to have problems because they're trying to compete in an old business with entrenched companies.

Secondly, most folks don't give a shit about efficiency. Even after the crazy ups and downs of oil prices in the last few years, people are still buying gas guzzling vehicles [cnn.com] . So, any auto company that's going to market their product based upon efficiency will have to wait a long time and have the capital to do it and most importantly, have backers that are willing to wait. People will not buy fuel efficient cars until gas prices are permanently high - we all have come to expect that prices will decline again.

Also, even when gas prices were comparatively high, SUV prices plummeted making them a good buy even with high fuel prices because the vehicles were selling so cheap. Or to put it this way, it was far cheaper to buy and operate a SUV than it was a Toyota Prius when gas prices were high - a lot of that was dealerships adding on a premium to the hybrids because they could.

Oil prices will never be permanently high (3, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249920)

High oil prices destroy demand, causes recession and subsequent price collapse of oil.

Anyone who is going to market a replacement vehicle for oil based ones is going to have to market it to people who cannot afford oil when it's low. i.e. it hast to be cheap. Think TATA motors Nano, but electric and with reasonable range, which is a pricing challenge.

~$100 is the new low BTW.

Re:As Usual (1)

Sporkinum (655143) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250954)

That is pretty true. I gave my old 30 mpg Saturn to my mother in law, and bought a used 20 mpg Cadillac for $6000. Since I saved so much buying used, gas mileage was really not too important. I really enjoy the power and quality of the Caddy and I really would not want to go back to a lesser vehicle.

I would enjoy having better mileage, but it is not worth the premium in cost.

Re:As Usual (3, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249550)

The good enough always wins because "the perfect" is a figment of deranged and twisted egos.
 

Re:As Usual (3, Interesting)

optimism (2183618) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250790)

So...how shall we explain that the ego-designed iPod, iPhone, and iPad won over the "good enough" alternatives?

Re:As Usual (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38251078)

What good 'enough alternatives'? If they were 'good enough' people would have bought them.

Re:As Usual (1)

saleenS281 (859657) | more than 2 years ago | (#38251734)

All of the above were "good enough". Those products are FAR from being the perfect device. For instance: how about FLAC support?

Re:As Usual (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249580)

what they failed while doing that apparently was to do backroom deals of getting short term money in so they could have gotten the government loan. they should have backroomed deals to get money in that would have gone straight out after the loan was in back to the people who gave it. scummy, yes? but that's how they could have gotten it and that's pretty much how it goes with these gov. investment match deals in high risk stuff.

Re:As Usual (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250110)

They failed to make sufficient political donations.

Re:As Usual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38249620)

Did they get any of my tax money. If so I need a pound of flesh.

Re:As Usual (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249820)

An electric three-wheeler was never going to appeal to the mainstream, so it was a pointless exercise. If you're going to build electric cars you have to appeal to the rich hippy market.

Re:As Usual (1)

0111 1110 (518466) | more than 2 years ago | (#38251096)

Because no one has ever made money by appealing to a niche market. Either you sell to the masses or not at all. Have I got that right? I would have bought one of these if he ever sold any and it wasn't too expensive.

Re:As Usual (3, Interesting)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250684)

The thing is, I liked the design the way it was. It was cute. It was the Jetson's car without the flying.

Re:As Usual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38250924)

'was continually delayed as Wilbur ordered redesigns to make it more appealing to the mainstream.'

The perfect is the enemy of good enough.

This pretty much sums up how Steve Jobs approached design.

Their car really were supposed to be beautiful... (-1, Troll)

geek353 (2523832) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249324)

Just look at one of them [evenweb.com] . I sure would buy one.
Too bad I already own an card, and don't have a budget to buy another.
Thats somewhat explains why they went bankrupt.

It's a real pity. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38249344)

I have a feeling that if it was widely available, a lot of people would find themselves in one.

Hopefully a similar manufacturer will give us the next big thing.

parent is a goatse link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38249354)

posted by a chump with a mind smaller than his asshole

Dont't click the link (1)

jeti (105266) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249358)

Don't click the link in the parent post. I think someone didn't like deep linking.

Re:Their car really were supposed to be beautiful. (0)

Bucc5062 (856482) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249368)

You are an idiot and a disgusting pig. Who ever reads this post Do Not Click on the link. Its a variation of goatse and way beyond NSFW). God I wish you could be banned for pulling crap like that.

Please mod this pig down to the basement.

Re:Their car really were supposed to be beautiful. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38249442)

Bucc5062, you're an idiot.

No, really.. that link is not a variation on goatse, it *is* goatse. Also, goatse is not going to scar anybody, its just a guy doing a bit of anal stretching. Likely hurt him more than it did you and he enjoyed it!

Then, what the fuck is way beyond NSFW supposed to mean? Its either safe or not and reading a site such as slashdot is not necessarily safe in the first place if your employers are prudish, and why are you doing it at work anyway? Fucking slacker..

Thirdly, get over yourself

Re:Their car really were supposed to be beautiful. (1)

bev_tech_rob (313485) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249716)

Nitpickers are idiots, too...

beautiful ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38249328)

compare it to say an Aston Martin and it looks more like an student aircraft designers sketchbook drawing than a work of art from a car design pov,
3 wheels and a plastic body ? there is a reason 3 wheel cars have always failed in the marketplace, they look ridiculous and stability is fundamentally compromised

try making your concept cars look desirable, not like a handicapped car for able bodied people

Re:beautiful ? (1)

Cosgrach (1737088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38251038)

Actually, it was a very good looking vehicle. Face it, modern cars generally lack any sort of style and nothing differentiates them from the one another. The toyota looks like a honda looks like ford looks like chevy looks like volkswagon looks like bmw, etc... At one point subaru looked okay, but they have lost their imagination as well. Sure, if you can afford an Aston Martin, then okay. But all the really good looking designs are way more than 30 years old. Modern cars look like crap, and while they may be more reliable they are much more expensive to repair when something does go wrong.

Most older cars are built to LAST. Face it, they are designed to be disposable - when it breaks, throw it away and buy a new one. Yeah, what a way to save money. My Land Cruiser is 40 years old and is nearly 100% steel by weight. The transfer case and transmission housing are aluminum and there is a bit of plastic and foam in the dash panels and seats. That makes my older car a lot less expensive to recycle at the end of its useful life than *any* modern car.

  And do not underestimate the power of the Dark Side.... Err.. The Force... Errr. Composite body shells (with metal reinforcement). I digress. There are many (okay a few) cars out there with composite or 'plastic' bodies, with perhaps the best known being Corvette. It has had a fiberglass body throughout most of its production run. Saturn used plastic body panels until about '07 or so. The Smart car has used plastic panels through out it's production. Face it Buckwheat, as the need to reduce curb weight increases, composite and plastic body panels are going to be a big part of cars in the future.

Sure it may not have been designed for the general unwashed masses of people (who are mostly wastes of skin and can not drive and should not even have licenses).

It was way better than the Corbin Sparrow, with a longer range. And while it may have suffered *silghtly* in the stability area, it is no where near what you suggest. I have driven many three wheeled cars including the Aptera. If you put the single wheel in front (like the Zap), then yes, it will have problems. But that issue was largely solved in the Carver design, it was very stable. If you put the single wheel in the rear like the Aptera, the Epic Torque and a few others, stability is really mot much of problem at all. It's really more about how well balanced the weight is distributed and how low you can get the center of gravity.

I have also noted that while concept cars generally are nicely styled, by the time (if) they make it to market they look nothing like the original concept. The Aptera was a good looking car, certainly 'not built like a handicapped car' as you suggest. It actually was a little difficult to get in and out of if you were over 6' tall.

Re:beautiful ? (1)

dslbrian (318993) | more than 2 years ago | (#38251190)

Overall terrible news IMO. I wish they wouldn't have focused on the electric aspect so much. Same body design, but with a normal internal combustion engine and a decent price, and I probably would have gotten one as a commuter vehicle (very similar concept to say a T-rex motorcycle, but without the high price). I think there is definitely a market for vehicles like this, lightweight like motorcycles, but enclosed (not always exposed to the environment like on a bike).

Snow. (4, Insightful)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249392)

The major problem with these 'concept' cars, not just this one, is that they are only drivable in places that never have winter. Which of course rules out most of the industrialized western world.

Re:Snow. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38249428)

That's wrong. You can drive them everywhere, even in places with winter, as long as there's no snow at the moment.

Re:Snow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38249560)

I think the bigger problem is cost. If the price was low enough, you could use alternate transportation when there was snow on the ground. After all, I wouldn't claim motorcycles are useless, but they suffer from similar use restrictions, perhaps even greater restrictions from a practical standpoint. However a motorcycle generally costs less than a car would. A quick check on cycletrader in my area puts the cost for the majority of the kind of motorcycles I'd consider for commuting to work in the $7,000-$15,000 range. The Aptera 2-series was projected to cost $20,000 to $40,000 - I can't afford to spend as much as I would on a car and end up with a vehicle I can only use 1/2 the time.

Re:Snow. (2)

budgenator (254554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250042)

Technically the Aptera would have been classified as a motorcycle as its a reverse tricycle, no helmet is needed because of the enclosed cabin. I've seen several reverse tricycles without enclosed cabins, driven as motorcycles not as automobiles. You could drive one 9 months a year without blinking an eye, and in reality there are only a few days a year when you'd have to drive an old beater 4X4 if you did have one.
I'd love to have one, outrageous fuel mileage and an exotic look gives it major geek appeal, look at how much an Edsel is worth now.

Re:Snow. (2)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250296)

Technically the Aptera would have been classified as a motorcycle as its a reverse tricycle

This depends on where you are. Each country is different, and each US state is different. This has been a problem in the past for three-wheeled vehicle designs; it means that (a) to drive it you must have the motorcycle endorsement on your driving license (which few people have), and (b) in some places you would still need to wear a helmet.

And as far as your Edsel comparison goes - yes, this is *just* like an Edsel. Hideously ugly with no redeeming engineering features.

Re:Snow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38249770)

That's not true. I have driven an electric car at sub-zero (celsius) temperatures in Western Europe. You cannot charge them at sub-zero temperatures (at least not that particular car), but that simply means it will take a moment for the batteries to heat up a bit before you can charge them properly (and they heat up anyway while charging). If you have an indoor garage charging is not a problem. Furthermore, the electric car had much better traction on snowy roads than a regular car. And it was not a concept car.

Re:Snow. (5, Informative)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249796)

I'm not talking about batteries in an electric car. I am talking about sexy concept cars with small wheels, low clearance and no weight trying to drive through a few inches of wet snow and ice.

Re:Snow. (1)

optimism (2183618) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250664)

The major problem with these 'concept' cars, not just this one, is that they are only drivable in places that never have winter. Which of course rules out most of the industrialized western world.

It's worth pointing out that Aptera's initial market was limited to California. They took preorders only from CA residents only.

And in fact, 95+% of CA residents do not get any ice or snow where they live.

That said, in the parts of the urbanized western world where we do get snow every year, we usually remove it from the road within a few hours. Snowplows with salt spreaders run around the clock when necessary, so folks can make their morning commute on time.

wrt winter conditions, this concept car looked just like a small sports car/roadster. You either put snow tires on it, and drive carefully when the conditions are awful, or you drive a heavier, higher, perhaps AWD, vehicle when conditions are awful.

Re:Snow. (2)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250852)

That said, in the parts of the urbanized western world where we do get snow every year, we usually remove it from the road within a few hours.

And where is this magical place where the roads are cleared within a few hours

Re:Snow. (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#38251368)

Aw, you live in one of those places where half an inch is considered a lot of snow and it usually doesn't last more than a couple of days before it melts, aren't you?

Re:Snow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38252126)

The major problem with these concept cars is that they try to reinvent a product that has been fiercely refined during the course of a century.

Instead of taking the product of that evolution and address the last remaining flaws, they try to convice many billions of customers that what they want is actually something entirely different. Something that is less practical, more uncomfortable, more expensive and looks ridiculous.

I find it confusing that these people get their product off the ground at all.

Their car really were supposed to be beautiful... (-1, Troll)

geek354 (2523840) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249396)

Just look at one of them [evenweb.com] . I sure would buy one.
Too bad I already own an card, and don't have a budget to buy another.
Thats somewhat explains why they went bankrupt.

So pity... this car supposed to so good... (-1, Troll)

geek355 (2523846) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249424)

Just look at one of them [evenweb.com] . I sure would buy one.
Too bad I already own an car, and don't have a budget to buy another.
Thats somewhat explains why they went bankrupt.

goatse alert. (1, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249440)

Goatse alert.

This is just the latest Corbin Sparrow, and the sparrow failed. This failed again. Whee!

So there's no market for a car (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38249478)

but there's a market for private space tourism? Oh boy, Space Nutters are in for a shock! But their powers of self-deception are tremendous.

wrong target audience (4, Interesting)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249484)

This car is interesting but it was aimed at the wrong consumer. US consumer cannot afford this vehicle, because US consumer is subsidized (especially now with the Government Motors), and all the various loans, that make it too cheap for the US consumer, who can't really afford the new cars buy them with government guaranteed loans.

The company should have moved the idea to China and started there and aimed at the local Chinese market. I think they were going with a more or less correct idea in terms of the product, but they were not doing it at the right time and definitely not aiming it at the right clients.

Re:wrong target audience (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38249628)

Yes let's export more US innovation to China, that's the ticket.

The chinks are going to melt down in a way that make the current US / Euro woes look like a slightly bad week in an otherwise bear market. Anyone folish enough to invest in China further than exploiting cheap labor and lax environmental laws is a fool.

Re:wrong target audience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38249672)

it's the investors' decision, not yours.

Re:wrong target audience (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249698)

The Chinese use electric powered bikes. http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1904334,00.html [time.com]

I doubt they'd spend tens of kilobux they don't have on an electric powered trike

Re:wrong target audience (3, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249866)

The Chinese luxury market is huge right now and easily dropping kilobucks and megabucks on all sorts of status symbols. Of course, once you're in that market, you don't care about fuel costs and you can find a better status symbol than that thing.

Re:wrong target audience (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249956)

The Chinese use electric powered bikes. http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1904334,00.html [time.com]

I doubt they'd spend tens of kilobux they don't have on an electric powered trike

You see electric powered bikes all over New York City as well, but one thing has nothing to do with another. An electric bike isn't intended as a car replacement, whereas the Aptera is.

Re:wrong target audience (2)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250388)

I doubt anyone in China who wants a car would buy the Aptera. This is what they buy:
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/01/chinas-best-selling-cars-of-2010/ [thetruthaboutcars.com]
http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1909818,00.html [time.com]

As for elsewhere, who (other than car collectors like Jay Leno) would buy an Aptera? And why? If I had USD20K to spend on a vehicle I'd certainly buy something else. More range, more seating capacity.

If I was rich and was going to buy an electric vehicle just for "cool factor", I'd buy something like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5xf1zWSuWc [youtube.com] :)

I am shocked! Surprised! Horrified! (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249540)

Who would have thought a company producing this!:
http://www.popularmechanics.com/cm/popularmechanics/images/ib/aptera-8-doors-up.jpg [popularmechanics.com]
might go out of business.....

Y'now, cars are the shape they are for a reason. Or in fact many reasons.

 

Re:I am shocked! Surprised! Horrified! (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249668)

If they were actually producing it they might not have gone out of business.

Also, what's wrong with the shape? Do you hate it just because it doesn't look like other cars? It looks good, like an airplane with no wings.

Re:I am shocked! Surprised! Horrified! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38250720)

It looks good, like an airplane with no wings.

If by "airplane with no wings" you meant something closer to "sperm with wheels", then yes, that's exactly what it looks like. That's probably also part of the reason so few people were interested in it. Who the hell is going to drive around in a $20K+ sperm with wheels that has less agility than a motorcycle and less stability than a real car, no matter how efficient it is?

Re:I am shocked! Surprised! Horrified! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38249990)

You mean this shape: http://www.ausbcomp.com/~bbott/cars/lutzmann.jpg [ausbcomp.com]
Or do you mean "What we are used to!".
Do you realize that there was a time before what you see today was what we are used to?

Yes, that Aptera thing is fuck-ugly. But it's NOT right to reject it just because it looks different. Because that's as dumb as meeting the first human with a green skin, who can program like a god, but not hiring him just because he looks different.
It depends on if the whole package is the right choice. (Which the Aptera is not... for me at least, mainly because of the price, but also because at that price, it should at least look great.) Which is why it's not sexism to not hire a 1.52m petite woman to play against a football team that looks like they are from Warhammer 40k. ;)

Re:I am shocked! Surprised! Horrified! (4, Informative)

laird (2705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250140)

The Aptera looks like it does for a reason - its primary goal is efficiency, which is how they got over 200 MPG.

But to do that, they had to not waste energy pushing the car through the air. So they made it aerodynamic, so it looks like an airplane rather than the traditional "box on wheels." And their initial target was a two seater, which is most efficient (because most driving is 1-2 people, and with a two seater you're pushing around less mass).

A year ago (apparently) marketplace realities kicked in. That is, while sedans are less efficient, people prefer buying them because it's useful to be able to carry more people when you need to. So the marketplace for sedans is much larger than two seaters, making it a much smarter business to be in. But since they didn't get their funding, we'll never know how that would have played out.

Though I would love to see what a truly efficient sedan might look like.

Re:I am shocked! Surprised! Horrified! (1)

Robin47 (1379745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250370)

But since they didn't get their funding, we'll never know how that would have played out.

But we do know how it played out.

Re:I am shocked! Surprised! Horrified! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38251474)

As an engineer who has done aerodynamic and vehicle-system studies on vehicles like Aptera - I can tell you that the Aptera's advantage in aerodynamics was marginal. Cars don't need to be shaped like airplanes because they don't fly, they're better as long shallow bumps on the road. The possible gains in efficiency from Aptera's body design would be completely offset by the lack of space inside the body for larger, more efficient motors and batteries.

Finally, any stated MPGe from Aptera should be taken lightly - they got 5th place in the Automotive X-prize after failing to even finish the length of the race, with a 161 mpg equivalent as calculated by the X-prize people.

It's a toy "trike" and looks like it. (5, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249556)

Trikes are registered as motorcycles in the US in the same way as a conventional MC with a side car.

They aren't serious transportation. They are fun, but don't have the AGILITY of a two-wheeler or the STABILITY of a four-wheeler (wheels under each corner come in handy).

This isn't a blow against practical EVs, it's just one less toy. Since trikes don't have to meet crash standards, it was an understandable workaround....that's been done before....but makes it a toy.

Re:It's a toy "trike" and looks like it. (1)

knarf (34928) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250238)

Who says sidecar bikes 'aren't serious transportation'? I ride my (soviet-era) Ural all year round, through all weather. Roads are often unpaved here, but that does not stop me. The distances can be substantial, but that does not stop me either. Temperature varies from around 20-25ÂC summertime to -25ÂC winter. In winter we often have up to a meter of snow on the ground.

I live in Sweden. The bike weighs 350 kg unloaded. The Red Army chased the Germans back to Berlin on (the predecessors of) these things. Not serious transportation... not for you, maybe.

I'll give you the lack of crash protection - just don't crash the thing and you'll be fine. It is them silly cagers - that is people rolling around in four-wheeled cages - you have to look out for, they are the real hazard out there on the roads.

Re:It's a toy "trike" and looks like it. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38250274)

> Trikes are registered as motorcycles in the US

Which leads me to ask if you were even remotely considering the Aptera, then why not consider an electric motorcycle like the Zero Motorcycles [http://www.zeromotorcycles.com/]? They are already selling, new battery packs getting 100 mile range, been on the street for a few years already. Seriously, the Aptera isn't going to give you any better crash protection than a motorcycle anyways.

I just want something to get to and from the train (4, Insightful)

RandomFactor (22447) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249570)

Another one bites the dust...

Is there anything out there yet that is

  - reasonably inexpensive
  - short-mid range capable (long range not required, i have a regular car if needed)
  - charges on house current (prefer all-electric)
  - reasonably road safe
  - can still keep me reasonably warm in winter (cool in summer a plus, but not as important)
  - has a radio
  -some cargo/passenger room would be nice to have since the grocery stores are only a few miles away
  - Doesn't really need to top 45mph, I'm thinking train commute (back-roads, grocery run, maybe occasional kid pickup from school)

Appearance is not a major consideration.

Really what I need seems to be in a sweet spot between CEV and general use passenger car. Is there such a thing out there? Am I missing something? Economics still seem to point to cheap gas vehicles (which is vaguely annoying).

Re:I just want something to get to and from the tr (2)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249896)

Find yourself a cheap econobox gasser and convert it to electric. I have a soft spot for 1st generation Saturns since they're light and reasonably resistant to rust. It's not THAT expensive to do (US$10K in parts plus your labor) since the original car is practically free.

http://www.phoenixeaa.com/photoalbum/streetevs/suiter1/main.html [phoenixeaa.com]

Re:I just want something to get to and from the tr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38250330)

- Doesn't really need to top 45mph, I'm thinking train commute (back-roads, grocery run, maybe occasional kid pickup from school)

Nope. This last will kill you. A car that can't break 45mph is a danger in any case where quick acceleration is needed or when a highway needs to be traveled, even for a short distance.

You don't want to have an emergency and be stuck in a golf cart that can't get up to safe highway speed. Given that highways are typically 65 mph, 45mph is the very bottom of the legal limit -- and you're talking about that as a maximum velocity.

Re:I just want something to get to and from the tr (1)

m50d (797211) | more than 2 years ago | (#38251560)

Not sure what you mean by CEV. Maybe you want that fancy (conventional-fuelled) BMW enclosed motorcycle, though that doesn't give you any passenger room. I'd expect electric to not really get into this space until after full-scale cars are mainstream, because the big advantage of electric is cheaper fuel prices, and if you're talking about a small light short-range vehicle then fuel price is a much smaller issue at the moment,

Died in 2008 with the hiring of Paul Wilbur (5, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249576)

He ousted two of the originals and was a old school car guy, it was no wonder that nothing that had been created before he arrived would ever satisfy him, nor much of any chance innovation was going to stick.

Aptera vs Solyndra (3, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249582)

House Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) has been holding hearings [politico.com] on the corruption he accuses Obama having when Federal loan guarantees were given to Solyndra, the large solar startup that went out of business this year. Issa has also been busy denying his own work using his own power to try to get the same loan guarantees for Aptera, which is in his own district. Now Aptera has also failed. Will Issa investigate himself for corruption? [factcheck.org]

Re:Aptera vs Solyndra (1)

Karzz1 (306015) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249636)

Ahh.. typical American* politicians; "Hello kettle, this is pot...".

* I am a US citzen and I vote. Unfortunately in regard to American politics, there is no choice only a lack of options.

Re:Aptera vs Solyndra (2)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249726)

Were Aptera's investors major donors to Issa's campaign? If not, there is no comparison with the Solyndra case. Additionally, while Aptera may not have been a good choice for a government loan (I do not know, but their going out of business now suggests that maybe so), it was in Issa's district. It is part of his job to assist companies in his district in dealing with the federal government. At no point in any of the letters that are quoted in your link did he do any more than say he was requesting that Aptera's application be "given full consideration." If Issa's letter had brought up legislation in front of his committee as well as the loan guarantee, then there would be something to this comparison. In the Solyndra case, the loan appears to have been approved over the objections of the non-political staff at the Energy Department...not only that, when it became obvious that Solyndra was going bankrupt the loans were re-written so that the investors would get their money out before the loans were repaid in bankruptcy.
This does not mean that I approve of Issa's support for Aptera, just that it appears to be a different class of problem from Solyndra.

Re:Aptera vs Solyndra (4, Informative)

laird (2705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250186)

Solyndra's investors weren't particularly Obama donors - the Waltons (i.e. Walmart) were major investors, and they're hardly Obama fans. Keep in mind also that Solyndra was started and was fast-tracked for funding under a DOE program started under Bush, and Obama's [ep[;e actually slowed things down, did more due diligence, and put more protections in place around the loans that ended up saving us money by pulling the plug on the company. Despite Issa's partisan spinning, this isn't something to blame Obama on - any time the government sets up a fund to promote businesses, some of those businesses will succeed and some will fail, and Solyndra failed because China radically dropped the price of solar cells, wiping out Solyndra's market. The real problem isn't that the US government set up a fund to encourage solar development, it's that the US started years later than China, and with a much lower level of investment, so China is beating us. The answer isn't to give up, it's to compete harder.

Re:Aptera vs Solyndra (4, Informative)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250374)

It was not "fast-tracked" for funding under Bush. The Solyndra loan was put on hold by the Bush Administration (at least partly because they were not going to be able to complete evaluation before the transition and therefore left it for the new Administration to reach a decision). The Obama Administration may have put more "due diligence" in place, but they then made a decision before that "due diligence" was completed. Somebody from the DOE predicted that Solyndra would go bankrupt in September of 2011 before the DOE renegotiated the loan guarantees so that the investors would get paid first, then, what do you know, Solyndra went bankrupt in September 2011. The Administration is trying to claim that the email predicting the bankruptcy was talking about something else, but this is the same Administration that claims upper levels of the Administration were unaware of Project Fast & Furious when they were making speeches touting the program.

Re:Aptera vs Solyndra (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38251960)

1) the bad gov assessments of Solyndra that people like to reference are AFTER the loan was out and they were monitoring the progress seeing them going down; there wasn't much that could be done after they got the loan and it looked grim.

2) China's cheap solar and is likely subsidized as they want to lead in this new market; plus they are investing far far more into making it cheap than a pittance of loan guarantees-- which are not actual loans but are bailouts for when risky loans go bad.

3) Hard to say, from what I've seen politicians tout programs with good looking stats or some staffer/friend's word and actually have no idea what the thing is they are touting. Politicians routinely talk about and praise things they don't know jack about-- they lie for a living, its easy for them to get into bad endorsement situations and then have people read too much into it; its more of a conspiracy theory than most conspiracy theories because its so difficult to know if they were bullshitting or actually aware. Have you ever had somebody you know or project you were in get praised by a politician? They quite often have no clue other than a few summary points and some stats probably from the overview. Now if they don't blab about things they delegate then they don't get any recognition or credit and politics is all about taking credit... and shifting blame... in that sense (and hardly no other) it is a lot like business management.

The problem... (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249596)

If your wierd car costs $20K-$40K then I can tell you without a doubt that you will fail instantly.
Wierd and efficient cars need to target the sub $9000 price point for a econo 2 seater. There are a metric buttload more buyers at that price point than the more likely $40K per car point that it would have ended up at.

Chevy understood this as well as Nissan. They are producing incredibly few Volts and Leafs because they know there is no market for an economy car at $40K. the economics of the cars do not make any sense to anyone, and the only buyers will be "look at me I'm green! LOOK AT ME!!!!!" people who have a lot of money for a toy. If the chevy volt looked 100% identical to a $15,000 car it would have sold nothing at all because there is no "LOOK AT ME!!1!1!" factor.

Honda Civic new is $16,000. Chevy Sonic is $15,000 Both get 40mpg. If your car costs MORE than that you are set up for Instant-FAIL. Even if it was to get 60mpg. In reality a new, never heard of company needs to be way,way, under that to get sales because nobody wants to "risk" getting stuck with a poorly built or defective car from a unknown car company.

Re:The problem... (4, Interesting)

jeti (105266) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249778)

If you're new to building cars, you can't go for cheap. You can't compete with mass-produced cars on price and you don't have the capital to set up mass production. If the manual labor required for assembling your car makes it 10k more expensive than a comparable car of a big company, your best hope is to produce cars for a market segment where the uniqueness of your model is worth the additional cost to enough customers.

That's why most small car companies produce super sports cars. It doesn't matter if they cost 210k instead of 200k. But selling a small car for 25k when the competing product costs 15k just doesn't work. Tesla was smart to start with the Roadster. Now they have the means to go after a bigger market with the Sedan.

Re:The problem... (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#38251074)

If the manual labor required for assembling your car makes it 10k more expensive than a comparable car of a big company, your best hope is to produce cars for a market segment where the uniqueness of your model is worth the additional cost to enough customers.

That's the OP's point - the Aptera is too expensive for the economy segment, and too underperforming/oddly styled for the (more well heeled) 'green fetish/stylish' market. Or, in other words, at it's price point the Aptera is a solution in search of a market. It's failure should have been predictable as it's problem isn't (as the submitter seems to think) that it's too late, but that it was wrongly conceived right out of the box.

Tesla was smart to start with the Roadster. Now they have the means to go after a bigger market with the Sedan.

With the small number produced, it's extraordinarily unlikely that Tesla accumulated sufficient capital to 'go after' the Sedan, they're probably relying on financing and the proceeds from their IPO. But, the Sedan is still going to be a very expensive car for it's performance level - like the Roadster (and the Volt, and the Leaf), aimed mostly at the (fairly small) 'green fetish/stylish' market. We're still a very long way off from a consumer level electric vehicle, one that can compete on price with the Honda Civic and similar cars in that (sub $20k) range.

Re:The problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38249886)

$9000? That is the cost of a new street motorcycle. BTW why doesn't electric street motorcycles get more attention? They have WAY more power to weight and way easier to design a reasonably long distance street vehicle...

Re:The problem... (2)

Bill Dimm (463823) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249976)

BTW why doesn't electric street motorcycles get more attention?

Motorcycle riders can't figure out how to take the baffles out, so they'll never catch on.

Re:The problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38250442)

You are trying to explain economics and rational thought to enviro-wackos who care for neither. Good luck with that.

Beautiful?? Envy-inspiring?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38249670)

Do you mean as in "Fuck, that things looks ugly!"?
Click those links. I dare you! It's like the Goatse of cars. No wonder nobody wanted to buy them.

Break out the rose colored glasses.. (1)

HellYeahAutomaton (815542) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249706)

Being in business for 6 years, building a working prototype, and getting $40 million in funding is a relative success.

Great job Aptera, hopefully everyone involved finds new work.

80 MPG with common technology? Yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38249708)

Combine an efficient, clean diesel engine with a lightweight, aerodynamic car: http://green.autoblog.com/2009/09/05/insight-1g-first-gen-honda-insight-with-diesel-upgrade-gets-80/

Of course, there are very efficient, small diesel offerings in Europe, but somehow "diesel" has become a cuss word in the states.

Re:80 MPG with common technology? Yes. (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250514)

Of course, there are very efficient, small diesel offerings in Europe, but somehow "diesel" has become a cuss word in the states.

In Europe, diesel is subsidized, so it costs less than gasoline. In the US, it's the opposite. Combined with the existing higher demand for petrol than diesel, diesel ends up costing more than gasoline. How much it actually uses is of less impact than the fact that Joe and Jane Redneck sees a higher price per gallon for diesel than for regular or even premium gasoline.
Add to that that the cost of the car itself is higher; so much so that it would take the better part of a decade to make up for the price difference in fuel savings.

And then there's the image. While electric car conveys an image of "clean", diesel conveys an image of "soot and grease". That's as important as actual facts, which the US population has never been too interested in.

Aptera's reason for failure (1)

optimism (2183618) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249824)

This quote takes front & center of the company profile page on aptera.com:

The best fuel for encouraging innovation is saying "It can't be done".

Oooops. In other words, their company motto was "we will fail".

That same page has this American-embarrassing quote:

Aptera is a perfect example that Americans still know how to build stuff.

Ouch. I hope they were wrong about this.

Anyway, you can be sure the Aptera executives walked away with $ millions in their bank accounts, because Americans still know how to print money!

It's difficult (2)

JBMcB (73720) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249854)

Building a concept car is relatively easy. Making a limited production run of expensive one-offs is also pretty easy. Mass producing a car affordable for the general market at a profit is *insanely* difficult. Basically, your quality has to be near-perfect, because one recall to fix a defective CV joint or door latch will blow your profit margin out of the water. So will rising commodity prices. So will rising labor prices. So will changing regulations. So will dozens of factors you probably haven't even thought about.

Tar sands and pipelines forever (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249984)

Obviously, this is further proof that that electric cars will never work and that all any alternative to burning gasoline for transportation is nothing but a liberal boondoggle and there's no such thing as climate change.

In the event that we ever run out of fossil fuels, we can just squeeze my cousin Randy. He's the greasiest guy I have ever met. Pores the size of nickels.

TWIKE: similar concept but alive (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38250084)

Here in Europe we do have a three-wheeled vehicle called the TWIKE. It has been around for many years and is still a sucessfull business. It has a very simple (and much less futuristic structure) than the Aptera and even is available with pedals (the "active" version) in order to generate electricity for a longer battery life.
Here is the all-important link: http://www.twike.com/en/home/home.html

Re:TWIKE: similar concept but alive (1)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 2 years ago | (#38251406)

Ah, the Twike... You don't know if you want to love it or hate it. It's got this lean, aircraft-cockpit shape that makes you want to take one for a ride - a black, finned one, of course - and see how it feels. On the other hand, you have this urge of taking up a M2 and pump it full of .50 cal death, screaming "DIE, YOU BASTARD, DIE!" and then torching the remains and axe-murdering any survivor.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder (0)

SpaghettiPattern (609814) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250146)

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And this beholder thinks Aptera has no merit whatsoever. Looks like a veggie inspired pile of crap. Good riddance I say. Mankind is blessed by production problems.

I give that the car looks futuristic. And that has nothing to do with beauty. Would you want to drive around looking like the Jetsons, for the sake of what? The days are well past that futuristic was cool and hence sort of beautiful. Then the weight of 1800 lbs is hardly light. An average classic sports car weighs that much or even less, and most look infinitely better. The centre of gravity is unnecessary high for it to be fun to drive. Then the prices tag of 25 to 40kUSD. What?!

For real trike fun look at the Morgan Threewheeler. Proper motor with US and UK pedigree.

Don't get me wrong, I like electric/hybrid cars. In fact I think they are the future. But if you really want to make a difference with electric/hybrid cars, you must bring a rock solid and complete concept. I wager the Aptera appealed more to the tree huggers where it should have appealed to the motoring enthusiast.

New car companies in the west are being done wrong (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250250)

The right way is to create a single company with multiple brands in which the core is shared. The brands are then owned by fairly wealthy ppl. Once you have the core tech off the ground and brands solid, then split the company along with the IP. Basically, to get car companies off the ground here, the founders need to learn to work together like we used to do, not trying to kill each other.

"liquidate assets..." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38250290)

Does that mean the designs, models and such are also on the auction block? Could somebody buy them and take another shot at this?

Saving gas money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38250354)

[[I had been hoping to one day drive one of these to save gas money.]]

I, also, had been looking forward to paying a bunch of extra money up front for a car with limitations and that wouldn't every come out ahead, but would save me money at the pump every week while costing me at the checkbook every month instead. I'm saddened the Aptera didn't make it (I got to see it in person at Microsoft once) but at least there are alternatives.

Would have, if... (1)

OFnow (1098151) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250396)

We considered it, but since it was impossible to buy an Aptera we got a Mini. Plenty of folks would buy an unusual looking car (not sure how many in Nebraska would do so, but in major Metro areas, sure). Besides, full electric cars obviously won't work for rurals where the minimum trip to the store is 100 miles each way (with present technology).

The looks were cute (ok, call me crazy) and 2-wheels-forward is plenty safe, the unsafe 3-wheelers were 2-wheels-at-the-back. Though two-wheels-at-back 3-wheelers have provided endless amusement in the UK! For example in various Monty Python skits...

The 'sealed' design means air-conditioning had to be on all the time. I always wondered what percent of the battery would go to cooling the air.

a product without a customer (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38250612)

Another idiot company, run by idiots who don't talk to customers.

I wrote them years ago, and ask them to maybe consider changing the look because I liked where the company was going but the product looked awful. Got a reply from their CEO or Chairman at the time saying something to the effect that everyone will like them because they will have no choice.

ha ha on you.

 

Very disappointed (3, Interesting)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250648)

I've been watching them since they first started working on the car. I cheered them on at the EV races two years ago. The Aptera was a great concept car that showed energy efficiency could look really cool in a way that no other EV has quite achieved yet. Even if it had a plain old boring conventional motor, the aerodynamic shape would have given it a good boost in gas mileage, and it just looked stylish. It really is a pity.

On the street (1)

justfred (63412) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250752)

I live in Carlsbad, CA, where one of their facilities is, I've seen them (or maybe just one) driving down El Camino now and then. Looks like a disembodied small aircraft fuselage. Seems utterly un-crash-worthy. Very pretty, not very practical.

I remember when (last year) they were turned down for government assistance, because they had three wheels not four; wondered why they didn't just drag a bicycle wheel so they'd qualify.

Hoping to go by their offices next week and see if there's any evidence of getting rid of stuff.

Lies!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38250770)

They where killed. No doubt about it. That is the way it goes in a carbon/credit society.

so much hate (3, Interesting)

0111 1110 (518466) | more than 2 years ago | (#38251278)

What's with all the hate for the Aptera? Did the owner rape your sister or something? I can't believe so many of you are getting so worked up about hating this guy and his company and his car. I smell some kind of agenda, although I can't imagine what it could possibly be. Maybe you guys work for companies that make those pathetic hybrids that barely get more than 50 mpg? It was a concept car that never made it off the ground. It could have been any small automotive startup. The fact that it was a car that looked like an airplane and got much higher gas mileage than anything else on the road in North America is not why they failed. Even for major manufacturers, most concept cars never see the light of day. I would have bought an Aptera if they could have sold it for less than 30k. It was strikingly beautiful and had an incredibly low coefficient of drag. I think it would have been one of the best cars ever made.

For now I will continue to salivate over Volkswagen's efforts with the XL1 [dailymail.co.uk] . Although I much prefered the former, more radical, tandem 2 seater L1 [ecogeek.org] A real jetson-mobile.

WTF? (2)

bussdriver (620565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38251860)

Sperm shaped? WTF? It looks like a small aircraft without the wings -- there was so much hate for something truly different.

I'm hoping they open source the designs or enough leaks out so somebody can put out a kit car or something. I'd bite.

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