Aptera safety info and issues

Aptera Community Aptera Discussions Aptera safety info and issues

Aptera Community Aptera Discussions Aptera safety info and issues

  • Aptera safety info and issues

  • Llewellyn Evans

    August 25, 2021 at 3:25 pm

    I understand the body will be very strong and good in a crash. The windows may be made from glass or Polycarbonate. The side windows roll down half way.

    If the car becomes stuck in water for any reason, will it sink or float?

    If there is water pressure on the doors and you can’t smash a window because they are made from polycarbonate, how do we exit the vehicle? Water pressure will push the doors shut.

    I guess being front heavy, the tail may be in the air. Can we get out the cargo door from inside the car?

    • This discussion was modified 4 months, 2 weeks ago by  John Trotter. Reason: Expand title for clarity
  • Steven G. Bueche

    August 25, 2021 at 4:54 pm

    I’d go for the rear hatch.

  • John Malcom

    August 25, 2021 at 9:23 pm

    The doors open up not out like conventional car doors. Also, if you keep the glass tool that allows you to break your auto glass in an emergency, (Also comes with a blade to cut your seat belt if it is struck) you should be OK either breaking the windshield or the hatch if not full solar. Not sure how that would work with the hatch covered by solar cells.

    I am not worried about getting out of the vehicle in a flood. Probability that I would be in a flood with an Aptera is pretty slim

  • James Pace

    August 26, 2021 at 8:05 pm

    I do worry about this, since several drowning deaths occur every year on highway 55 along the N Fork of the Payette River, the main road to my town. Cars go into the class 5 rapids, end of story.My SAR unit trains for just that scenario.

    Opening the back hatch from the inside could be the only way out. But if that hatch is facing upstream, no dice. And what about if the car is inverted in water?

    I hope the Aptera engineers can think through answers to these bad outcomes.

  • George Hughes

    August 27, 2021 at 1:18 am

    Some cars simply float better than others. The stories of VW Beetles floating in ponds was common 40-50 years ago.

    Now anything can happen in a flash flood. A car could be trapped in a culvert or under a fallen tree. But since this kind of accident is prominent in some parts, apparently, ask yourself are VW Beetles under or over represented as the vehicle of victims.

    As far as the ‘fly off a bridge scenario,’ your first jolt hitting the water will by definition be more like a spear entering the water than a brick. Apter’s .13 Cd compares not to pretty slick cars with .20 -.29 cd but those with .30 to .40+ are true bricks and are in the majority.

    The Aptera is also light and roughly egg shaped with an air-bubble on top and a heavy battery under the seats. Even if you fell off a tall bridge into a bay, the fact that the pressure is being spread pretty evenly over the entire composite monocoque (think motorcycle helmet) body suggests it is that spear and it will right itsself as it bobs to the top.

    That would be my expectation although there are definitely limits. I think it is going to be like old Aptera’s six-times roof strength advantage except even better.

    What we won’t know, until Aptera is in production and accidents happen, whether it will sink if you’re 20 lbs over maximum weight or if you find yourself in a pond, you ought not open the door and because with only one passenger, if the driver is over 300 lbs, it will capsize.

    PS: I think Hollywood will have fun with this feature because, in comparison to other cars, nothing is built like this. That means it can do things other car’s can’t.

  • George Hughes

    September 29, 2021 at 3:09 pm

    I don’t think any vehicle, three or four-wheeled, has been crash tested. Specifically, I’m interested in how the Aptera performs in the off-set crash test given it its in-wheel drive train.

    First, I think the driver and passenger will probably fare quite well.

    My concern is more toward how the Aptera would perform in a crash where the wheel pod might be ripped from the chassis which seems more likely with this design.

    In the real world this might happen if the Aptera were to hit a telephone pole or some other object – even another car – where the wheel pod is severed from the car.

    We know that EVs in general have a master battery switch that emergency service providers are instructed to pull to totally isolate the battery in the event of a crash. But how effective would that power interrupt be if there are loose or sheared power cables to one of the front motors.

    I am unaware of any ‘industry standard’ that disables a high voltage car battery automatically in an accident. While this is anecdotal, I’ve reviewed photos of wrecked EVs on copart.com which is where many wrecked EVs are auctioned by insurance companies and many, some with serious damage, appear to have active batteries.

    Of course, none of those vehicles feature in-wheel motors. Further, even with enclosed wheels, it becomes obvious that if you look at enough wrecks, wheels are at risk of being not only crushed, but sheared off in a some accidents.

    And one would, just from the design of Aptera, have to concede that this vehicle is at greater risk of this kind of accident.

    The point is, are the cables to the wheels designed to shear-off in an accident in such a manner that emergency service providers can be certain they won’t be at risk of electrocution?

    BTW, the solution could be as simple as putting a lightweight cable strung from the wheel or even a suspension member directly to the battery to pull the disconnect in the event the front suspension is displaced.

  • Gabriel Kemeny

    September 29, 2021 at 3:17 pm

    Some of this may be addressed by the Lordstown Endurance during their testing.

  • Len Nowak

    September 29, 2021 at 3:33 pm

    I hear you but in the end… an autocycle is registered as a motorcycle and does not have to meet a car crash test. But YES Aptera plans to crash test????

    • George Hughes

      September 29, 2021 at 4:20 pm

      I understand that Aptera is exempt from crash tests but NO ONE wants a reputation as a death trap for first responders.

      Do know that the composite monocoque design of the Aptera cabin and its implications for strength and safety is one of the reasons I’m all in with this project.

      Besides, somewhere in the scheme of things, I think safety is close to a first principle.

  • Joshua Rosen

    September 29, 2021 at 5:49 pm

    There is zero chance that they haven’t thought of this and figured out a solution. Electrocuting someone after a crash would put them out of business, not just from the lawsuit but from the publicity.

  • Jonah Jorgenson

    September 29, 2021 at 6:29 pm

    Certainly safety is a concern for any prospective vehicle buyer.

    It is true that Aptera is most commonly categorized as an autocycle and exempt from auto safety testing standards. but, Aptera has repeatedly said that they will test to full auto safety standards. That means as Joshua Rosen has said in his post, that there is zero chance that Aptera engineers are not acutely aware of safety considerations as they engineer the vehicle. I suspect, since they have made the testing claim public, that they will over engineer safety (Not a bad thing)

    Beta engineering is complete and build is in progress. Following Beta there well be two additional versions of Aptera before it goes to “Government testing”

    The jury will be “In” when the government testing results are made public. I am confident that those results will put some ICE vehicle safety ratings to shame.

    • George Hughes

      September 29, 2021 at 11:32 pm


      By definition start-ups and smaller businesses are stretched to the limit and are forced to do more with less.

      An automobile is an extremely complex electro-mechanical contraption; one where unexpected things go wrong all the time. While it is getting better, you must know the entire automobile industry has a less than stellar record in regard crash safety.

      I share your overall confidence in Aptera and I too am quite impressed with their open approach based on first principles. I’m sure they have this somewhat rare circumstance covered; probably by direct notice from Elaphe.

      But now we’re dealing with Elaphe’s competence and ability to communicate and this particular scenario may or may not have come up and, given ‘everyone knows’ that crash testing is not required for ‘autocycles’ … well, there is a chance; a small chance this particular eventuality may have been overlooked because, well, among those EVs that don’t have in-wheel motors there is no requirement for auto shutoff of the battery; hence the manual main battery disconnect.

      Couple that with the Formula 1 open wheel design – If you’ve seen many wrecks you know that the wheels often go cattywonkers and the drivers tend to walk-away. But unlike F1, there are high-voltage cables attached to the wheels on the Aptera.

      Then there’s Murphy’s law not to mention the value of an ounce of prevention and the bigger understanding about virtually everything: perfection eludes us all.

  • Paul Evans

    September 29, 2021 at 9:47 pm

    Good questions, George!

    Of some 40 global organizations, the best known in the US are:

    • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and;
    • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).


    The full list is at: https://independentmotors.net/crash-test/


    Of most interest to the Aptera community, NHTSA does rollover and roof crush resistance testing, and the dreaded “moose avoidance” test. IIHS does the frontal and offset crash tests that you specifically mention.

    As for front wheel separation concerns, there are three pretty robust copper cables attached to the in-wheel motors that may retain the wheel’s attachment to the body. In that sense, they are somewhat similar to Formula 1’s kevlar wheel retention requirement that keeps the wheels attached to a crashing car.

    In regards to your concerns about power disconnects, as far back as 2002, MINI Coopers had a power disablement system that triggered when the car experienced a very strong jolt. I know because a friend I was following suddenly pulled off to the side of the road and I stopped to help. He had hit the mother-of-all-potholes. We couldn’t figure out what happened so he called MINI who told him where the reset mechanism was. I don’t know if that’s a regulatory requirement here, but if so, I suspect there’s one or more vehicle subsystems supplier that could provide them to Aptera.

  • kerbe2705

    September 29, 2021 at 11:14 pm
  • Peter Jorgensen

    September 30, 2021 at 7:15 am

    Most EVs have a battery disconnect system so if a crash is detected the battery is automatically isolated.

    The battery is always “live” unless each cell has been discharged professionally, but it can be disconnected completely from the car very easily by opening emergency-disconnect contacts. EVs have been out for a while now and they know what they’re doing.

  • Joshua Rosen

    September 30, 2021 at 7:43 am

    Putting on my EE hat, I have zero concerns about there being an electrical hazard if a wheel is sheered off. The power to the wheel motors is managed by the motor controllers. Under normal circumstances power will only be applied when the car is moving, when it’s stationary, after a crash for instance then no power is applied. In addition to that the load is always being measured. If there is a short, possible after a crash, no power will be sent to the wires. The power supply in your PC have overcurrent detection which shuts it down if a short is detected, a modern power supply doesn’t blow up or even blow a fuse if there is a short. Those power supplies are much cheaper devices than the motor controller in an EV. In the case of an open wire the motor controller will sense that there is no load and likewise send no current to a open circuit. That’s just the usual operation. Undoubtedly there will be crash sensors that cause the whole electrical system to shutdown.

    As for maintaining the integrity of the passenger compartment, that’s not my area of expertise but I believe them when thy say that it will be extremely safe. Composites are one of Aptera’s core competencies. The NHTSA and IIHS tests will be extremely important to Aptera’s future, they know this and it has to be at the top of their priority list.

  • Paul Schultz

    October 5, 2021 at 6:41 pm

    So the Aptera shell is very strong and can withstand a great deal. But, modern safety design is largely dependent on crumple zones to absorb impact while leaving the cab protected. Won’t the rigidity of the Aptera shell lead to worsened risk for transmission of crash forces to the passengers? This is what happened with the heavy rigid vehicles from the 1940-to-1960s. Just wanted to make sure that the driver and passenger don’t have their brains turned to mush by a full-force impact.

  • John Malcom

    October 5, 2021 at 7:21 pm

    Thank you for expressing your concern. We all should be concerned about the safety of the vehicles we drive

    Although Aptera is classified as an autocycle/motor cycle, Aptera is engineered for and will test against full government automobile safety standards to include crash testing. I believe, because of their meticulous engineering, they will outperform many ICE autos in this critical area. I would not be surprised to see five stars.

    Additionally, Aptera has the traditional crumple zone design from the firewall forward.

    • Paul Schultz

      October 7, 2021 at 5:21 pm

      I hadn’t seen any information that the front end, forward of the firewall, was designed any differently than the remainder of the shell. Do you have the source of this info? If it is made of the same rigid shell that they have been touting that provides amazing strength (that can withstand a sledge hammer) then the entire vehicle shell, including the portion forward of the firewall would be rigid and not provide the modern crumple zone safety feature of a typical modern automobile. I’d love to see this info if you can point me in the right direction. Thanks.


    • Llewellyn Evans

      October 24, 2021 at 4:56 am

      The angled firewall will help push solid obstacles under the car so you don’t stop so suddenly. More ricochet, less impact.

  • Philip Raymond

    October 7, 2021 at 7:29 pm

    This is from the Aptera FAQ under the title “what are the ramifications of minor body damage”. It also speaks to major body damage and structural safety.

    The front and rear sections are designed to be replaceable if damaged. Both are made of impact-resistant plastic, as are the wheel covers. They are also both foam filled to help in a higher speed incident. The front nose cone along with our subframe, in particular, are designed to crumple against our angled firewall and extend an impact sequence to the benefit of our passenger safety cell.

  • Davis Edwards

    October 8, 2021 at 11:05 am

    Hi Paul, I agree that I’ve heard a lot about the shell strength but not crash testing. I was surprised to learn that enclosed 3-wheeled autocycles do not require a helmet. I understand that the vehicle will have driver and passenger airbags along with side airbags. There is a fan-made (or maybe ambassador) video on youtube showing a crash simulation, but I have not seen these images elsewhere. They look like official renderings.


  • David Maddon

    October 9, 2021 at 9:52 pm

    They have state both the front and rear have crumple zones and the front wheels also act as a crumple zone. This was in one of their video Q&A sessions. The front is metal frame with a composite cover.

  • John Malcom

    October 11, 2021 at 4:55 pm

    Please watch the new J Leno YouTube video. You will see the “Front” open. Two things, there is a small “Frunk” and the metal struts constituting the crumple zone bolted to the firewall. Apparently 10 Betas will be built some used for crash testing.

  • John McLean

    October 23, 2021 at 10:43 am

    I understand the shell is strong to protect the occupants in a major collision and in such a collision the car may likely be totaled. That is fine.

    Most collisions are more minor. My question is not about crumple zones. It is, are there body shops in Southern California that already have the tools and know-how to repair minor damage to the Aptera’s shell from a fender bender where the damage is not limited to the plastic nose, tail, and front fenders? Are there any auto body shops in the country that can do this work now?

    • Curtis Cibinel

      October 23, 2021 at 11:17 am

      They have talked about this in Q&A sessions. It is essentially more like repairing a boat.

      Also unlike sheet metal the body of the aptera ha a tendancy to bounce back. In a 5mph fender bender it is plausible the damage would be limited to the vinyl wrap (if that) as the aptera is soo much ligher and the body is relatively flexible that it would just elastically handle the impact. In a demo with the original ~2009 Aptera (structurally similar) they had people hitting it with a sledge hammer with no damage – sound familiar 😉

  • John McLean

    October 23, 2021 at 5:54 pm

    Once they have Betas that have been crash tested it would give confidence to reservation holders to have a body shop guy show how a more minor bit of damage to the cell would be repaired with before and after photos or a video of the process. We can give Jay Leno a sledgehammer and we can show crash test videos but I want to know that a body shop could could be found to repair the impact of a simple fender bender.

    I like “right to repair” and feel I can find a local mechanic to replace failed parts using manufacturer’s instruction but I’m concerned I’ll have a hard time finding a boat repair place to even look at my futuristic car.

    Just saying…an old body shop owner with paint on his hands explaining how he repaired the shell would be a good idea.


      October 23, 2021 at 7:35 pm

      The Aptera will have three major structures; the front, the monocoque passenger compartment, & the tail end. The front & the tail are sacrificial crumple zones. I recall that when the monocoque suffers a fracture, it should be scrapped just like a motorcycle helmet. After a crash, when the monocoque remains intact, then no repair is needed or required. I’m just hoping that me & my Aptera never becomes a ping-pong ball that bounces off any other object.

  • Pistonboy Delux

    October 23, 2021 at 9:49 pm

    Here are two videos showing different views of the front. The design may have been changed and the two views may be of different designs.

    The first is of the Noir in the Aptera shop at time 4:29. The second is of the Sol from the Jay Leno video at time 13:43.

    The first shows two large lateral braces joined to the main body by five large bolts. Something like this could easily be designed to crumple on impact. I wonder if they are in the second video.

    Click on the green video links below, not the video. You will be taken to the correct location.



    • kerbe2705

      October 23, 2021 at 9:55 pm

      The three alpha prototypes are structurally identical – so if it’s in Noir, it’s also in Luna.

  • George Hughes

    October 23, 2021 at 11:11 pm

    Testing has determined that the key to survivability is a very strong passenger cabin that allows the body to impact things like air bags and ‘air’ instead of intruding sheet metal. This concept is best demonstrated in crash tests of another ultra-small two seat car; the Smart fortwo … which for all the folks who say two-seaters aren’t a large market should note that more than a million of these ‘economy cars’ have sold.

    Anyway, here is an inspiring video containing some rather dramatic crash sequences at speed.


    In terms applicability for the Aptera, it has the strong passenger – probably stronger than the Smart – and a decidedly larger crumple zone. The combination of composite monocoque shell is more like that of a formula 1 race car, a breed of racer that hasn’t recorded a driver death in a crash in over 30 years despite significantly higher speeds than those demonstrated in the above videos. Certainly, the use of helmets and advanced driver restraints are contributing factors but ‘formula’ for survival is the same – a strong shell and vehicle extremities designed to absorb energy.

    • John Trotter

      October 24, 2021 at 12:56 pm

      George. Great find for a visual for crashing a lightweight car. Of course, despite the relatively intact survival of the mini “core” (and I’d bet the Aptera monocoque would do at least as well), the narrator correctly points out that human internals can not survive the deceleration from 70 to 0 mph in a second or so. To give us drivers the best chance, I hope the Aptera suite of air bags is complete (front, side, legs). Survive a wall at 70mph? Probably not, but at least as good as other cars on the road for less energetic encounters.

  • Peter Dezendorf

    November 10, 2021 at 11:24 am

    Here in the Mid-Atlantic part of the USA we have too many deer. And we occasionally hit one (I’ve done that).

    What happens to an Aptera vehicle if it hits a deer?

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