It would appear as though earlier speculation about Aptera's co-founders being ousted is somewhat closer to the truth than what we may have been lead to believe. In their latest newsletter, the company acknowledges that Steve Fambro and Chris Anthony will no longer be involved in day-to-day operations though, it states both will "continue to guide the company direction from their positions as board members." After reading through the many threads at the unofficial Aptera Forum that give the distinct impression that the departures may have been more than just a little acrimonious, we can only wonder how much that "guidance" will be appreciated or even followed.
Fans of the actual product (it's all about the very slick 2e, remember?) can only hope that the political wrangling will soon be water under the bridge and the staff situation stabilized. Well, except for the VP of manufacturing position. The holder of that post will also be joining the ex-Aptera-employees club as, according to the newsletter, David Oakley has also decided to step down to "pursue a similar position with another firm." OK, can we move on from the politics now?
Proving that he is more about looking out the windshield than in the rear-view mirror, the talented Mr. Fambro has been making good use of the free time on his hands. According to a few statements made at the aforementioned online forum, he's gone back into the garage (and a lab and a small office in an undisclosed location) and has begun tinkering again. He is being somewhat tight-lipped about his new project but has let slip that, "it's in the cleantech space, involves nano-composites, aerodynamics......um...that's about it. I wonder what it could be?" We're wondering too. If you care to venture a guess, hit us up in the comments section which follows a copy of the latest Aptera newsletter after the break.
[Source: Aptera / Aptera Forum | Source Image: emdot - C.C. License 2.0]
The beginning of 2010 brought changes to the Aptera management team and new advancements in the product. Take a read and find out more.
Aptera founder to lead from the boardroom while pursuing new ventures
Our visionary leader Steve Fambro, who first conceived Aptera in his garage and, along with (co-founder) Chris Anthony, launched the company into public view, will leave the day to day operations as CTO and head of Advanced Concepts to rededicate his time and attention toward pushing new and breakthrough technology.
"With the team of tech innovators and automotive management that (co-founder) Chris Anthony and I have gathered, I'm confident Aptera is well-positioned to complete the job that lies ahead," said Fambro
"I have many other 'efficient' ideas that I would like to develop and I intend to refocus my time on bringing those ideas to life... All I can say now is stay tuned."
Fambro and Anthony will continue to guide the company direction from their positions as board members. "Steve is our founder," said Aptera CEO Paul Wilbur. "Without the vision that he and Chris had when they started Aptera, we would not be standing at the doorstep of automotive history. We value their continued support."
David Oakley steps down
David Oakley, Aptera's VP of manufacturing, stepped down at the end of 2009 to pursue a similar position with another firm. "It was a difficult decision, but it was an opportunity that I couldn't just pass up," said Oakley.
Everybody at Aptera is sorry to see Dave go. His team has laid the groundwork for Aptera's manufacturing plan and processes. He also served as the technical and process lead for the commercialization of our composite body system, including the development of the Energetx supply relationship. We are now just days away from taking delivery of our first design-intent 2-series body from Energetx.
Thanks Dave and best wishes.
Tech talk from the engineering desk: Chassis
The Aptera 2e chassis is designed from the ground up with a focus on overall vehicle efficiency ... without sacrificing the performance you expect from your vehicle.
To begin (with the part you know), the 3-wheel architecture minimizes mechanical losses, minimizes total chassis weight and helps enable the excellent aerodynamic characteristics of the 2-series vehicles. The steering system (here comes the new stuff), suspension geometry and low overall vehicle weight enable the use of a manual steering system, which allow the Aptera to conserve the energy that is typically used in a power system while still providing a confident steering feel. The steering system and suspension geometry are designed to provide a crisp linear response to the driver's inputs, resulting in driving dynamics that feel very natural and predictable. Simultaneously, these new features act to make the vehicle relatively insensitive to road surface variations, road crown and surface inconsistencies like potholes.
While we're confident you will easily become preoccupied with carving corners in your Aptera, we do realize that, at some point in time, you will have to stop. For those rare buzz-killing moments, the brake system has been sized and designed to provide superior stopping power even before the introduction of powertrain regeneration. So when the manual brake system is combined with the 2e's powertrain regen strategy - you have a brake system that has throw-your-eyes-out-of-your-head stopping power, as well as confident pedal feel. All of this while conserving the energy that would be consumed by a typical power brake system. Then when you supplement our low brake drag design with nifty items, such as low rolling resistance automotive tires, you get an integrated chassis that is focused on efficiency without sacrificing performance....Yeah, I bet you didn't know that brakes could sound so good.
The next critical area for the chassis design is performance for ride, handling and noise-vibration-and-harshness (NVH). This starts with packaging front and rear sub-structures that allow for large amounts of total vertical wheel travel, or as they say in engineering speak: jounce and rebound. Next we add tire sizes, tire constructions and tire chemical compounds that don't just provide low rolling resistance, but also help manage the loads and forces going into the vehicle while keeping the vehicle connected to the road.
In the front, the suspension design is a short spindle SLA with a rocker arm. (Bet you can't say that 3 times fast). This system's characteristics are designed to match harmoniously with the rear, which is a double-sided trailing arm suspension. Conceptually, the rear is similar to a sport motorcycle, but with much greater lateral stiffness. The front and rear systems are combined to provide excellent stability for cruising as well as spirited driving.
The next piece in the equation is tuning, and ours delivers confidence on two levels. First, the chassis decouples the modes of pitch and bounce that are typical when driving on uneven roads. This allows the vehicle to breath over undulations feeling subtle and refined. Second, the vehicle's ride characteristics minimize noises and tactile feedback that the driver would typically detect when crossing road separations, potholes or other rough surfaces. In short, it feels and sounds just like you would expect from your car.
Of course, all of this good stuff did not come easy. The chassis system was designed using a total systems approach that started with the packaging of structures that work without compromise to vehicle performance. We then managed road inputs to the vehicle and, finally, optimized the entire system for vehicle efficiency. We put more than a few computers into ICU in our analysis with computer models ranging from (engineering) first principles based calculations, to multi-body dynamic model and finite element component optimization. All of this was used to cascade the system design down to the components - including every chassis nut and bolt. Using our pre-production prototypes we have validated our chassis designs for total system performance. By using these early vehicles as development workhorses, we have continued to refine our base system, and we will continue to do more as we get into this next build series.
If you didn't get it by now, we are really proud of our chassis. We expect that you will be too.
Xprize Update: Aptera passes first tech deliverable
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Earlier this month the Aptera Team received word that we had passed the first Technical Deliverable in the Xprize competition. The first and second technical deliverables are high level reviews by the Xprize judges of the vehicle's fundamental technology systems. In these reviews, high levels of scrutiny are placed on safety and control systems to ensure that all competitors are putting the well-being of the occupants as first priority.
The judges for the technical evaluations are tough and knowledgeable, but we like it that way. So far we are among the teams to pass gate one. Technical Deliverable-2 is the next gate and we are pulling that trigger now. We'll get further information to you as soon as we have it. In the mean time, take a look at the body of what will be our competition vehicle.