Gear Selection and regen braking control

Aptera Community Aptera Discussions Gear Selection and regen braking control

Aptera Community Aptera Discussions Gear Selection and regen braking control

  • Gear Selection and regen braking control

     John Voules updated 1 month, 1 week ago 26 Members · 38 Posts
  • Francis Giroux

    March 30, 2022 at 7:32 am

    Does anyone know what the gear selection mechanism is on the Aptera, and what choices there are? I expect choices of at least: Park, Forward, Neutral, and Reverse, but personally I would design it so there would also be few choices of degrees of regenerative braking (none, mild, medium, hard) without having to go to the main screen and select it on some non-permanent screen selection. On my Prius I can select neutral (no regen), forward (mild regen), reverse, and braking (medium regen for going down mountains). On my Honda Insight I can touch the brakes easily and get extra regen braking power (when in any forward gear) and even more regen with greater light pressure. If Aptera is to be a true efficiency vehicle it needs to have a choice of regen options (including neutral for coasting) at your fingertips (at least the neutral option) or on the brake pedal. I did see on the steering yoke of the beta mock-up a couple buttons, one with < > and the other with – +. I hope the – + button is for regen braking power and not volume control for music. Another good option for regen braking power control is to have the brake pedal (the pedal with – on it) programmed to be slight regen braking power when touched easily with increasing regen power when increasing pressure, until finally hard braking engages the mechanical brakes, but still having neutral (no regen) option with no brakes applied.

    • This discussion was modified 8 months, 1 week ago by  Francis Giroux.
  • Joshua Rosen

    March 30, 2022 at 8:36 am

    Tesla only has two regen levels, low and standard. I came from the Volt to the Tesla, the Volt had regen paddles which Tesla doesn’t. I thought I’d miss the paddles but I don’t, Tesla has stronger regen and true one pedal driving which is better. Tesla also has three stopping modes, creep, roll and hold. I use hold, the other modes are there to mimic the behavior of an ICE car but I don’t think they are necessary. I really like one pedal driving, when you are coming to a stop you just lift your foot up and the car slows down. If you give it enough distance it can come to a complete stop without having to use the brake pedal. What one pedal driving doesn’t do is sudden stops, for that you need the friction brakes. Regen braking also doesn’t work if the battery is cold. In my Tesla I always precondition the car before leaving in the winter. They said they might not have that feature at launch but it’s critically important that they have it before winter 2023 because that’s when there will be Aptera owners in Northern states. I expect that all of the deliveries this year will be to Southern California where preheating the battery isn’t important.

    One more thing that the Volt had that Tesla doesn’t, blended braking. Chevy did a good job with blended braking, I never noticed a transition between regen and friction braking. I’ve seen a lot of reviews of other cars where they say that it doesn’t feel quite right. Tesla decided that simplicity was more important so the brake pedal is strictly friction braking. It’s hard to get blended braking to work well so I think Tesla made the right decision. If you have good one pedal braking then you shouldn’t need to touch the brake pedal except when you really have to and in that case you need the friction brakes anyway.

    I want them to follow Tesla’s lead, just a couple of regen levels with the standard level being strong regen. Concentrate on making one pedal driving work well and then keep things simple with the brake pedal, i.e. have it just do friction braking and make it so that you hardly ever need to use it.

    • George Hughes

      March 30, 2022 at 11:10 am

      I think they should follow Chevy’s lead on integrating the breaks with with regen. I would recommend the PRNDL standard with “D” being minimal regen and “L” being the default setting for ‘average’ regen. Adding paddles (+/- controls) and the integration of the regen brake pedal and the friction brakes that work in both the “D” and “L” setting.

      The advantage the Aptera has in this comes from the more robust regen capability of the Elaphe in-motor wheels largely because of the large diameter motor design, I understand, generates addition torque on acceleration and regen on deceleration. We should also be aware that the Elaphe wheels can actively even reverse direction (counter-acceleration) in real time.

      In understanding the dynamics of this mechanical contraption, recognize the essential mass of the moving parts of the electrical power train. Basically, all rotational momentum is concentrated on two circular ‘rotors’ that are attached only to the wheel and tire.

      The point is the rotational momentum all power in Aptera is structurally different than in any other EV or ICE vehicle and considering the ‘comparative lack of mass’ changing directions is mathematically different for Aptera in terms of the forces acting upon it. There has never been a vehicle with theoretically more innate manueverability in the history of modern wheeled vehicles.

      The rotational momentum of the Aptera is limited to what 30kg for the spinning parts of the motor and wheel; a figure nearly equaled by the tires and wheels of the typical ICE or even EV. But on other vehicles, you’ve got to count every moving part from the engine’s flywheel to spinning internal reduction gears, driveshafts, motor rotors, etc. all of which conspire to keep you going in the same direction you were going.

      When Aptera gets into the free world, free market, you’ll see someone develop a way – an app) to do a tank-turn U-ee at 50 mph … it will be a sight to see … and you probably will (in the movies). Yes, my prediction is that once Aptera gets rolling, it will increasingly be used in the movie business as a stunt-INSPIRING vehicle.

      • John Smith

        March 30, 2022 at 11:57 am

        In order to do a tank turn in an Aptera you will have to have the rear wheel pivot or caster which I don’t see happening.

        • George Hughes

          April 2, 2022 at 11:58 am

          … or be prepared to burn some rubber or offer an alternative.

          The burn rubber scenario would involve having(?) and using a rear-parking brake mechanism that the driver uses to throw the car into a skid. It is an old rally technique that is part of the evasive driving training designed to allow drivers to, if possible, do a 180-degree skid, reverse direction and escape from a dangers like an assassination … or making an appearance in an action flick … or negotiate a tight turn in a staged rally.

          There is also the option of adding a ‘lubricating spray fluid’ for the under-wheel area or, given the geometry of the ‘Aptera’ rear suspension, you could add an active element to the rear-wheel allowing it to put the wheel above the lower control arm which would be bolstered by a metal stand plate shaped in the form of a wing.

          This would even allow the Aptera to shed its front wheel fairings, replace the wheels with oversize ‘big balloon’ tires that are buoyant enough to float the Aptera awkwardly in the water but, with the winged rear suspension addition, you have a hydrofoil at the rear. (Think monster truck tires).

          Actually, while you may ridicule the idea of such modifications; the real revolutionary act is the creation of the right to repair Aptear from the get-go. It is the source of “inspiration”

  • kerbe2705

    March 30, 2022 at 8:37 am

    At present it’s a stalk on the steering column, most likely analogous to the one found on the Model 3. As it’s simply a switch I hope it will end-up on-screen, like the Model S.

  • Francis Giroux

    March 30, 2022 at 12:07 pm

    kerbe2705, thank you for a partial answer to my question. A stalk on the steering column. Right or left side? What selections are available? Most importantly is neutral/coasting without braking available?

    Joshua, I know a few parts from Tesla are in the Alphas but I hope Aptera doesn’t follow the inefficient engineering of Tesla. So far Aptera has avoided wasteful drive trains and gears, radiators and big mirrors. But I hope they realize the energy wasting tech of “one pedal driving.” Sure it is better than accelerating and cruising with power and using mechanical brakes for slowing down and stopping.

    But accelerating, cruising, and regen braking is only 75-90% efficient in converting battery potential energy into kenetic energy and back (each way), and as low at 56% efficient if you count both directions (battery to road speed and back to battery). Yeah cruising could be as good as 90% efficient. But coasting to a stop or at least coasting from cruise speed down to 20-30 mph approaching a turn or stop, can be 98% efficient at converting Kinetic energy into distance traveled (only wind resistance and rolling resistance are in play). If you are using regen “coasting” to capture that energy and put it back into the battery. You are down to that 75% efficiency.

    If we don’t have a zero energy use or capture coasting ability, we are wasting energy. The most efficient part of a drive for most drivers is cruise (could be as high as 90% at the 30 mph). However the most efficient part of a drive for an efficient driver with the right equipment is the coasting (slow deceleration without brake or regen) and could be as high as 98%. If acceleration has the same efficiency as cruising (90% max) then the most efficient driving technique is acceleration and coasting (called pulse and glide by hypermilers).

    And with an Aptera with excellent aerodynamics that barely slows you down while coasting, it is even more effective. Instead of cruising at 65mph on the Interstate, try accelerating to 70 mph and then coasting down to 60 mph before accelerating again, and especially try coasting to exits and sharp turns instead of using braking of any kind, and see how much better your efficiency gets. This is how I achieved 100 mpg on a Saturn SL1 and a Geo Metro. With the Aptera I expect to achieve 400 mile range with my 25 kwh battery and full solar.

    Give Aptera the ability to coast with zero energy input or regen.

    • IA -1

      March 31, 2022 at 5:40 am

      I hope Aptera will implement the coasting option too. I had a VW eGolf about 4 years ago and I was very pleased with the regenerative braking options:

      1. Gear selector in Drive – no resistance, you can coast.

      2. Move the gear selector from Drive to the left – you can choose the regenerative braking levels -+

      3. From there you can move the gear selector down to activate the maximum regenerative braking.

      Most of the time I was coasting and when I needed to brake, depending on the situation, I was using the regenerative braking levels or the B (max) level. I was using the actual brakes rarely.

      I hope Aptera would add -+ shift paddles at the steering wheel (terrible yoke) so you can change the regenerative braking level very fast.

  • Francis Giroux

    March 30, 2022 at 1:45 pm

    How to shift the Aptera.

    I found it. In Chris’s video with Kirsten Dirksen

    at at 1:04 into the video Chris shows the “shifting” prindle with Park, Reverse, Neutral, and Drive as choices. But that was an Alpha with Tesla parts so whether that translates into the final version or not is still unknown. I also remember than there will be numerous setting for how aggressive the regen braking can be set, but that was done on the main screen. And I don’t know if that setting can be changed on the fly like I want it for greatest efficiency. Chris did say that the +- button can control “everything you can control on the center screen.” Sounds good as long as I can control the regen braking amount on the fly.

    • Steven G. Bueche

      March 31, 2022 at 4:12 am

      This by far is the most informative video (IMHO)

  • Pistonboy Delux

    September 12, 2022 at 10:15 am

    I did not find any gear selector mechanism on the steering column nor on the console.

    But the screen has the letters P-R-N-D prominently in its upper left corner.

    Is this how we select gears? By touch screen? It looks so to me.

    (Does anyone have a good picture of this?

  • Bob Kirchner

    September 12, 2022 at 2:19 pm

    Yes. The stalk on the left controls lights and turn signals. No right hand stalk.

  • Colen Thomas

    September 21, 2022 at 3:54 am

    That was my question, also. I would also like to know the locking method for the wheels when the vehicle is in “park” since there is no gear train to be locked.

  • Trevor Anderson

    September 21, 2022 at 10:33 am

    I still want a physical PRNDL and the ability for it to shift into neutral even with a dead battery. Maybe a physical parking brake release would be nice as well.

    As for Regen: Give me a meter that shows Regen range of the brake pedal and show where physical brakes take over. That way I can hypermill my braking.

    • John Voules

      September 21, 2022 at 11:11 am

      Trevor…my understanding is that we will never have a neutral setting on the APTERA due to the inwheel motors. I love putting my i3 into neutral when I can gobble up what in my mind is free cruising. Then I put it in drive and try and stop (with out using brakes) at my designated point. Just a bit of a game I play…fyi regenerative braking level changes deceleration depending on how full your battery is. A fuller battery lengthens your stopping distance.

      If they can somehow invent a neutral setting it would definitely make it easier for towing and or moving your vehicle if it ever runs out of electrons.

  • Matthew Crawford

    September 22, 2022 at 7:10 am

    I only saw one lever on the gamma yoke, which I assume is for controlling the wipers and turn signal. Is there a second smaller one on the other side for shifting between park, drive, and reverse?

    Please tell me you aren’t planning to have shifting controlled by the touch screen. That is one control that absolutely must be physical and have unambiguous states.

  • Paul Kirchner

    September 22, 2022 at 7:11 am

    Is it your deal breaker?

  • Jonathan Stedman

    September 22, 2022 at 7:16 am

    Not seen Clint Eastwood in “Firefox”. I am expecting thought control.

    Joking aside. Would have thought a proper physical switch was a safe sensible way forward. Bad enough passengers gripping hand holds when scared, let alone changing the gear as I drive

  • Joshua Rosen

    September 22, 2022 at 7:29 am

    Putting the shifter on the touchscreen is no worse then having a floor shifter. Controls that you use when in motion should be on the wheel but controls that you only use when stationary can be anywhere. Unless you are driving a manual transmission ICE car you don’t touch the shifter except when parking and unparking, this is especially true of an EV which has at most one reduction gear, the Aptera won’t even have that. Almost every ICE car I’ve ever owned had a floor shifter including the Chevy Volt. They put the gear shifter on the floor because it looks manly i.e. real men use stick shifts. All of these cars were automatics so the floor shifter was just a waste of space however it wasn’t a hazard because you don’t touch it when driving. I didn’t realize how stupid that floor shifter was until I got a Model 3 which has a column shifter which freed up the space that was normally wasted in an ICE car. I now realize that the shift stalk is actually unnecessary also because you never touch it while driving.

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by  Joshua Rosen.
    • Dennis Swaney

      September 22, 2022 at 8:00 am

      Except I don’t have to LOOK at the shifter as I go through the gears unlike having to go to a screen, find the icon for the gearing menu, and select the gear. My Prius had a simple knob on the dash: move it left to N, left and up for D, left and down for R, and right and down for low braking (never used it). Park was a button directly above it though just turning off the power would automatically put the Prius in park. Didn’t have to look at it, either.

      • Kevin Bradbury

        September 22, 2022 at 2:39 pm

        From Fully Charge Live videos, looked as though “gear” selection is default upper left on the screen, probably* located there no matter what other menu you are in. Hopefully in the near future Aptera will invite some Youtube channels for in depth showcases and test drives.

        *I say probably, because I don’t have an in with Aptera nor was I able to attend FC Live and those fortunate enough to go weren’t allowed to touch nuffin. Now where is that pouty face emoji.

  • Jeff May

    September 22, 2022 at 11:42 am

    No gear shift stalk? Oh FFS.

    I can overlook the blatant Tesla copying when Aptera is stealing decent design ideas from Tesla. But moving the shifting to the screen (like Tesla has done in the S/X) is an awful idea. All for what… to save a few dollars on a right-side stalk? Gimme a freaking break.

    As for other comments about wanting a “neutral” gear, you can shift to “neutral” in a Model 3/Y by pushing the right stalk up halfway and holding it for 1-2 seconds, but I think only <1% of drivers actually use this on a regular basis. (I’m among the 1%.) And it doesn’t actual “shift” any physical “gears”. It just cuts power to the motors. So this may be possible with the Elaphe in-wheel motors, but idk enough about the motor type and how they’re controlled to know if it’s doable.

    • BigSky Country

      September 24, 2022 at 2:51 pm

      Yes, Chris said the gear shift will be on screen and that they only left a few critical things (ie. Mandatory items) for switches such as door operation, hazard lights, etc. He said they are counting user feedback to iterate on over air updates vs. being locked into design flubs at startup. I took this to mean he anticipates suboptimal design without driver feedback studies and the more he puts on the UI, then he has the degrees of freedom to fix things on the go. And, I am sure this is much cheaper too.

      • Dennis Swaney

        September 24, 2022 at 4:22 pm

        Chris should use the feedback here instead of pushing his “we know what is best for you” concepts.

    • Kevin Bradbury

      September 24, 2022 at 5:19 pm

      Jeffrey May – “…So this may be possible with the Elaphe in-wheel motors, but idk enough about the motor type and how they’re controlled to know if it’s doable.”

      I wonder too.

      I wish someone with electric motor knowledge would chime in with an opinion or nugget of wisdom of such matters.

      Just with my limited street smarts, I understand that an electric motor will spin when supplied with electric current and will generate electric current when spun. I understand that there is some resistant magnetic field force while being spun which produces the regenerative braking.

      I don’t understand how the regenerative braking is increased beyond the nominal amount from just “coasting” an electric motor. Also, what happens if you coast with a fully charged battery? Does it still create the resistant force and the electricity generated is shunted off somewhere, or would the motor coast freely with no resistance other than tire friction on the road surface?

      Just one of the many things that make me go, hmmm?

      • Francis Giroux

        September 25, 2022 at 12:17 pm

        Two other vehicles also use Elaphe wheel motors and they both have free wheeling capability. One is a pickup and the other is the Lightyear Zero. When the lightyear zero was shown of to some of their reservation holders, they were astounded at how good the Zero coasted with no drag/regen/braking. Its on video at

        • John Voules

          September 25, 2022 at 1:23 pm

          Looking at this, surely APTERA must need to offer. Neutral is another gear I don’t want to loose in my driving experience.

    • LoveAptera YokeDealbreaker

      September 25, 2022 at 2:01 pm

      Yes, I too constantly shift to neutral to coast while driving my Tesla, Volt, and Prius. Just don’t do it on an official road test, it’s still “illegal”. Older Model S/X has AC induction motors that produce nothing when spun without power, but newer Model 3/Y has permanent magnet motors (more efficient) that do produce power which could damage unpowered drive inverters if towed.

      A gear selection of Neutral is legally required in all vehicles, which will coast the Aptera motors.

      The closer you are to 100% battery, the less available regen power you have (so it’s a waste to charge to 100% instead of 95%). Prius dumps extra regen power into its cooling system (wasting it so the brakes always feel the same), where as Volt and Tesla simply apply less regen, forcing use of your brake pads (same if the EV battery is below 50*F).

      Pulse And Glide only helps in an ICE vehicle because ICE is more efficient the closer it is to 100% load. So 10 seconds of 50% throttle to 40 mph uses more fuel than 5 seconds of 100% throttle to 40mph (except in hybrids). Don’t forget that while speed increases linearly, wind resistance increases exponentially! 75mph is only 25% faster than 55mph, but double the wind resistance!

      Pulse And Glide hurts EVs not only from the higher wind resistance, but also from Peukrat’s Law: “The greater the battery discharge rate, the lower the delivered battery capacity.” So driving 25mph with very low throttle in a Tesla gets you 670 miles out of the 400 mile battery, but driving 0.25 miles on a drag strip at 100% throttle consumes 3 miles of battery range!

  • Christian Echols-Austin

    October 21, 2022 at 7:26 pm

    Hello, I was wondering what is the transmission that the aptera will be using?

  • Harry Parker

    October 21, 2022 at 8:24 pm

    No transmission exists in the Aptera. So it has no mechanical clutch either. The motors are inside the wheels and directly coupled to the wheels. When the motor makes one revolution, the wheel and tire make one revolution. Nothing could be simpler or have lower drag. This is one the sources of their extreme efficiency: No gear friction! Control is achieved by electronic circuits of the motor controller precisely activating the multiple electromagnets of the motor around the rim in the proper order and timing to control direction, torque and speed. “Neutral” is acheived by opening (disconnecting) the wires of the electromagnets.

  • John LaRocque

    October 21, 2022 at 8:51 pm

    As Harry said, Aptera will have direct drive hub motors – not only does it not have a transmission, it doesn’t even really have axles. However, since the motors are of the permanent magnet variety, “Neutral” will probably not be as simple as disconnecting the power.
    Some more “old fashioned” EVs have push to start, but I wouldn’t expect it in Aptera since they’ve been pretty minimalist with physical controls so far. “Starting” the car will probably just involve unlocking it and putting it in drive (which since it doesn’t have a transmission is just software releasing the parking brake and telling the motors it’s okay to move forwards). I don’t know if this has been officially confirmed though.

  • Charles Aschmann

    October 21, 2022 at 9:35 pm

    In general EVs do not need to be started. The concept of starting is related to internal combustion engines which use an electric motor (starter) to turn the engine over (force compression in the cylinders and sparks from the plugs until the firing of the engine has enough momentum to continue. Thus, the more accurate term ignition.
    All electric vehicles need is activation. It could be manual like flipping on a light switch, but it is generally electronic.
    Like others have said, no transmission, nothing burning, no ignition, just direct electric drive by an electrical circuit.

    • Christian Echols-Austin

      October 21, 2022 at 9:43 pm

      I guess my next question is would be easy for someone like me to operate who has never drove a manual before? Is this still worth getting?

      • Paul Evans

        October 21, 2022 at 10:31 pm

        You’ll find it easier to drive than any car that has a transmission or a selection lever. Instead of shifting from park or neutral to reverse or drive, you’ll tap a letter on the touch screen (P, R, N, or D). If it’s R or D, press the accelerator pedal to go and the brake pedal to stop. Simple enough?

      • Thomas Bushaw

        October 22, 2022 at 10:42 am

        It will be much closer in behavior to an automatic (with just a D, not a D,2,and L) than to a manual. As Paul Evans said, couldn’t be much simpler.

        • John Voules

          October 22, 2022 at 10:48 am

          Electric vehicles are the furthest thing from a manual transmission…

          They are more automatic than an automatic😁.

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