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

    Posted by llewellyn-evans on 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 8 months, 1 week ago by  John Trotter. Reason: Expand title for clarity
    trevor-anderson replied 3 days, 13 hours ago 36 Members · 51 Replies
  • 51 Replies
  • Aptera safety info and issues

    trevor-anderson updated 3 days, 13 hours ago 36 Members · 51 Replies
  • 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

  • Jim-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.

  • Biker

    September 29, 2021 at 3:17 pm

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

  • len

    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.

  • 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
  • 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.

  • Phil

    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.

  • Pistonboy

    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.



  • 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.

  • Dr.D

    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?

  • curtis-cibinel

    November 10, 2021 at 11:33 am

    Get safety pilot (level 2 autonomy) for automatic breaking and hope you don’t hit it. The shell can take minor impacts without damage but if you hit it at more than 10mph it would be very tricky to repair (basically replace major body pieces)

  • peter-jorgensen

    November 10, 2021 at 1:13 pm

    Nose cone is plastic – Crumplezone structure behind that – then the much stronger passenger cell. The front suspension, pants, nose, etc are all easily replaceable in a few hours. The body itself is built like a boat – hard fiberglass shell. You can’t ding it with a sledgehammer. So, hitting it with a deer probably isn’t going to total the body, although you might have to replace the windshield and various front end components. In terms of simplicity Apterae have a fraction of the parts of a traditional automobile, and they are a lot more resilient to impact and easier to replace quickly with wrenches. Additionally, since there isn’t a dirty engine everything is clean and easy to work on.

    • Dr.D

      November 11, 2021 at 7:05 am

      How strong is the windshield?

      • peter-jorgensen

        November 11, 2021 at 7:22 am

        Standard automotive glass. No different than your average car. But the A pillars should be pretty strong…

  • hai-yue-han

    January 22, 2022 at 11:16 am

    As a former Tesla electrical engineer and an ex solar car engineer, I can assure everyone that this won’t be a problem.

    EVs have a wire in the high voltage harness called HVIL – it stands for High Voltage Interlock Loop. It’s connected between the battery management system and all consumers of the HV battery (inverters, heaters, HVAC, etc) and also serves as the first responder emergency power cutoff (the “cut here in event of crash” wire in every EV).

    It’s a communications wire where the consumers of HV constantly sends a “keep alive” signal to the battery (usually at 1kHz or more). In the event of a crash where the HV harness is damaged (or when the onboard crash detector detects a crash), the devices connected to the battery management system HVIL line will simply stop sending the “keep alive” signal and the battery will simply shut off (either by contactor opening or by blowing a pyrotechnic fuse)

    I can confidently promise that people won’t be electrocuted by having a wheel shear off!

  • Shawgrin

    January 22, 2022 at 9:20 pm

    Coming from a automotive and racing background, safety wise I would like to see the front hubs secured with cables to the body frame. Very scary watching a wheel go flying into a crowd.

  • Riley

    January 26, 2022 at 7:00 am

    If someone hits you in an aptera they would have hit you no matter what you were driving. My concern is that aptera will be too “visible” and be the cause of a crash due to people starring at it while on the highway. Here is a comparison between aptera and a tesla, a motorcycle is tiny in comparison.

  • Doug

    January 26, 2022 at 10:10 am

    Will the Aptera have ABS?

  • Tom

    January 26, 2022 at 10:17 am

    According to the FAQ spreadsheet, “We have torque control on all wheels along with ABS. This will give us great stability control and tuneability not seen on any ICE vehicles.”

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