Aptera offers solar EV production update: Tooling progresses, but more funding needed [Video]

In true Aptera fashion, its cofounders shared a video update outlining the company’s progress in bringing a solar EV into scaled production. The webinar which debuted live this morning can be viewed in full below and offers a slew of news surrounding grants, funding, tooling overseas, and solar development. Here’s the latest.

As one of the few companies on the planet attempting to bring a viable (and hopefully scalable) solar EV to the masses, Aptera Motors is not only powered by the sun, but also by outside the box thinking. As a startup relying heavily on its community and other financial backers to eventually reach production, Aptera remains refreshingly open about its progress and the hurdles it still faces.

Co-founder and Co-CEO Chris Anthony hosts weekly progress updates from Aptera’s YouTube channel, which are complimented by the occasional press release or livestream event. In January, the startup’s co-founders debuted the Launch Edition solar EV during a livestream, candidly relaying that production remained an obtainable, but distant goal since at least $50 million in additional funding was still required.

The company has since launched an Accelerator Program that utilizes crowdfunding investments from reservation holders to secure their production slot of the Launch Edition solar EVs, while helping Aptera purchase initial production equipment to be paid back through a recently awarded grant from the California Energy Commission (CEC).

Aptera has since extended the Accelerator Program, which has already raised over $14 million to date. This morning, Aptera’s co-founders took to YouTube again to update the loyal and growing fanbase about the Accelerator program, new funding opportunities, and the progress of solar EV tooling overseas.

Aptera’s latest update relays progress and optimism

The hour long update from Aptera co-founders Steve Fambro and Chris Anthony was one of logic, optimism, and most of all, gratitude. Both gentlemen visited manufacturing partner CPC Group in Italy last week to see some of the die molds that are being tooled.

As you can see from the images above, parts like the Aptera sides and doors have already been manufactured and will eventually be filled with a carbon composite material described to be the consistency of Play-Doh. That material is then heated and pressed between the stamps to produce the solar EV’s structural components.

Aptera states that the process produces less than 1% of waste material and which is then recycled back into manufacturing process. The material itself, stamped component or waste, can be recycled up to five times.

With routine maintenance, Aptera’s founders state its incoming tools have been designed to build over 100,000 parts and there is no reason to believe they couldn’t last long enough to help the startup produce one million solar EVs one day. Here’s to hoping that happens!

Part of the tooling process has been funded by Aptera’s investors, including the Accelerator Program, which has enabled certain purchases that are now starting be paid back by the aforementioned CEC grant.

That being said, Aptera’s founders were very open about the need for additional funding to reach scaled production and explained some of the measures it is taking to make it happen. In addition to the 1,000+ SEV slots still available in Accelerate, Aptera is exploring additional capital investments, new grant opportunities, and even debt financing of the production equipment.

Aptera also relayed today that after hundreds of pages of paperwork, it has officially submitted its application for the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) Loan Program, overseen by the US Department of Energy. During today’s update, the founders said they should find out in the next few weeks if Aptera has received a “substantially complete” nod from the DOE, in which it can start purchasing additional equipment that will be granted and funded by the loan program.

The company intends to spend the $50 million or so required over a span of 9 months as it scales, so the necessary funding does not need to come in a lump sum, but still – more capital is still needed. That being said, the company continues to make progress and is confident the combination of continued crowdfunding from reservation holders and other capital investments should help. Anthony shared some thoughtful words while live on YouTube:

We continue to raise money. People continue to find Aptera’s story and they support the mission of solar mobility with their dollars, with their reservations for the vehicles, with investment and it’s amazing to see that our story continues, even with the tumultuous times, to be a great one. I mean, 14 million dollars in the last couple months when you look at the market in some pretty interesting and negative times in terms of news, but I think we’re a very positive story. We continue to push toward production and the things that this vehicle will do for the world are compelling. Solar mobility is compelling. It’s a mission worth fighting for and we’re so happy that everyone has joined in that mission, making the world a more efficient place and making the world a better place in general.

Here are some additional updates from Aptera shared today:

  • Aptera continues to develop its solar panel technology for the production version of the SEV
    • Its latest panels are more durable, less reflective, have a better surface finish, and are easier to manufacture.
  • Aptera’s vehicles have three motors which require three separate inverters.
    • The company is currently testing its own inverter technology and is considering abandoning Silicon Carbide (SiC) used by many other automakers in favor of a lower cost Insulated-gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) inverter.
    • According to Aptera’s cofounders, the benefits of the SiC inverter aren’t necessarily great enough to justify the cost.
  • Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are in the works as Aptera would rather dedicate its UX to battery and charging management and leave the navigation and music to those who have already perfected it. Again, saving costs.
  • The featured image above is a rendering of a potential off-road package design of the Aptera. We will be sure to ask for more details about that in the future.
  • The team is actively discussing using the solar EV’s camera for security/Sentry Mode, but Anthony said its a very low priority of its to-do list right now.

Looking ahead, Aptera Motors says it will need to further delay its production start date as it continues to try and reel in that big fish investor to get it over its current financial hump. The co-founders shared that once that funding is secured, they believe they can have production up and humming within nine months.

We recommend viewing the latest Aptera update in its entirety below. There are still over 1,000 Launch Edition Aptera’s available to reserve with a $10,000 investment, or you can join the longer waitlist for only $70 down.

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