MemberApril 9, 2022 at 7:02 am
I thought that Aptera would be producing there own body shells, however Chris said in a recent interview wit Aptera owners club that they were looking at other companies to produce them. This could be a significant set back for production, will there be time to get production of them going if they are just starting to talk about it. The current production seems to be at about one every two months.
MemberApril 9, 2022 at 8:21 am
The Alpha and Beta shells were being custom-fabricated on an as-needed basis by a specialist company in Reno, NV. I’m under the impression that Aptera has found a supplier or suppliers who is/are capable of producing them at the rate required.
Note, though, that – in the same interview – Chris stated that Aptera hasn’t yet decided upon the materials and manner in which certain panels will be fabricated. Although things are moving quickly, it’s still “early days” at Aptera – we won’t start seeing final decisions being made until the Gamma and Delta phases of development.
MemberApril 9, 2022 at 9:56 am
As I understand it they are using processes considered common in the construction of composite aircraft.
Composites, we know, have not been used extensively in automotive because of the speed of the operation limits production from a single die or mold.
I suspect that there may be a machine in the process of being engineered that will largely automate this process in what I would call a poor man’s mega-casting machine. While Musk’s mega-casting machine will out put, what five or ten or maybe 20 rear or front cradle castings a minute, the expectations for the composite equivalent is maybe one composite casting every five minutes.
This compares, of course, to the garage boat builder who may take weeks or months to complete a composite hull for their vessel.
It would make a great deal of sense for aptera to invest in a ‘mega-mold’ composite casting machine that accelerates the production of this critical component. I suspect such a mega-machine will appear sometime – hopefully relatively quickly – after the IPO.
But there is no question that this area will be the source of news as we approach the implementation of the first production line. Solving the issues of mass manufacture of these components is a potential jungle in the city state known as production hell.
MemberApril 9, 2022 at 11:30 am
A great analogy for production! I know you have attribution rights, but I have to post this analogy in my work place. Sounds like generated from personal experience
- This reply was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by Jonah Jorgenson.
MemberApril 9, 2022 at 2:46 pm
At first I was going to say no, I’ve had no experience in production hell but then, as a media person with a slew of titles from cameraman to news editor and publisher and having credits in radio, television, newspapers and magazines, it only took me a second to realize that career is production hell every deadline. I mean all it takes to ruin one’s day in that field is for a plane to fall out of the sky or some deprived soul turn a half-dozen lives inside out.
But a newspaper plant with its massive news room, composing, pre-press and press room containing a rather large machine that feeds ink onto paper, cuts, folds, wraps and distributes anywhere from 10,000 to as many as a million or more half-pound bundles to individuals typically over a multi-county encompassing hundreds, if not thousands of square miles with meaningful (hopefully) information every day is logistical nightmare and a production hell.
But as they say out the back door of the Baptist church where the kids pass around old butts and half-pints, we’re all sinners and we’re used to it.
MemberApril 9, 2022 at 9:37 pm
One difference between casting metal and molding composites is that metals don’t require time to cure: The resins used to solidify SMC and resin-infused composites take time to “set-up”, even if they’re UV-activated.
The various composite parts are then connected with adhesives – not mechanical fastenings like welds, bolts or rivets – so, again, there is a time-factor until the adhesives cure.
If you’ve watched the recent interviews and updates you’ve heard the Aptera “factory” referred to as the “Final Assembly Facility. Aptera has NEVER, EVER spoken about making parts in-house: They have been sourcing parts since day one. Aptera does not plan to be an end-to-end manufacturer like Tesla – with raw metal coming in one door and completed vehicles rolling out another.
MemberApril 9, 2022 at 11:24 pm
Outsourcing components is common in automotive and while the majors these days all have in-house operations for their body building operations, even GM started out with custom body makers. If any one remembers Body by Fisher – which adorned every GM car for over 60 years from the 1920’s up until 1984 (after ’25, Fisher Body was a division of GM.)
I am assuming that the body’s will be shipped as the four basic panels to the assembly plant. Wiring harnesses and other parts are added prior to the parts being bound for final assembly. The reason I think this is how it will happen is because its is going to be easier to ship the parts as loads can be packed more densely.
That decision, while it wouldn’t make much difference if the body manufacturer was nearby – a likely circumstance – until you try supplying multiple assembly plants.
In anycase, production at the rate of 10,000 Aptera a year would not pose a problem.
In a world where the US powerboat market pumps out just over a quarter-million water craft annually, if Aptera becomes a surprise massive hit … with sale potentials into the six figures … will require a scaling of production that represents a new order of magnitude for any composite shell production of a complex mobility appliance.
How Aptera plans to supply this most cumbersome component to five, ten … fifty or a hundred mini-assembly plants world-wide in four years is the question I’m thinking about.
Is the monocoque centrally produced and distributed like all the other components to individual assembly plants … or are the monocoques going to be formed locally, either in-house or from an independent local supplier.
The plain fact is I have no idea how Chris or Steve are thinking about this. I’m thinking my imagination that they were looking at centralizing body-making seemed to me the more feasible alternative because of my notions about protecting the IP surrounding its ‘design’.
As I see Aptera progress toward its destiny, what ever that destiny may be, I find it a fascinating story as it develops. It is entertaining.
MemberApril 9, 2022 at 8:24 pm
I watched that interview , I was troubled by a few answers:
Mainly the question about supply chain issues:
The answer was , we aren’t going to be making “insert part here” so we won’t have the supply chain problem, we will be getting complete front suspensions from “insert vendor here”
Okay So No aptera won’t have the supply chain problems…. However the parts still have to come from somewhere to the vendor that’s building the completed pieces to aptera.
So is that a deliberate misleading answer ?
Or a round about answer that makes things sounds like they won’t have problems ?
Either way , it’s still not factual There will still be supply chain issues period Maybe not directly to aptera But if the front suspensions are built elsewhere , it means they won’t show up wile the vendor deals with the supply chain issues
MemberApril 9, 2022 at 9:29 pm
To those who are fluent with American English, Chris’ response made complete sense: As suppliers are not yet supplying parts to Aptera and Aptera is still in the process of negotiating contracts, Aptera is unable to name those suppliers.
We cannot know if Aptera will face supply-chain problems: Most of the supply-chain issues currently faced by US manufacturers are between Asia and the US and most of Aptera’s parts are being sourced from North American and European countries. Chris stated that he did not EXPECT there to be any issues – which is in no way misleading as there very well might not BE any issues.
MemberApril 10, 2022 at 12:16 am
Outsourcing subassemblies from others is just fine and can be a great labor saver. But it does require a great QC/QA receiving inspection department. You cannot have inferior goods show up ‘just in time’ to be sent back or rejected. These outside manufacturers have to keep on top of it!!
MemberApril 10, 2022 at 2:51 am
In the future, when the money comes in, Aptera can invest in vertical integration of the production processes and do most, if not all, in house. And finally expand to more production facilities world wide. This way profits will rise and prices of the final product will drop(I hope) If they are successful, this is the way….
MemberApril 10, 2022 at 8:03 am
I was surprised by the revelation that they are outsourcing body shell production, I was under the impression that composites were a core competency for Aptera. It makes sense given their limited capital that they would have someone else produce them but it’s a concern that they don’t have a contract in place yet. They want to start production by the end of the year, how will that be possible if the supplier for such a key component isn’t already doing pilot builds?
MemberApril 10, 2022 at 9:11 am
That very “core competency” is what empowered Aptera to design a composite-bodied vehicle. But the difference between designing it and producing it are vast: Better to have the product produced in by a specialist facility that already exists than to raise the billions of dollars necessary to build and outfit such a facility.
MemberApril 10, 2022 at 10:08 am
I agree that outsourcing the manufacturing makes sense at this point. My concern is that they apparently haven’t locked in a supplier at this point, it’s late in the game if they really intend to ship before the end of the year.
MemberApril 10, 2022 at 10:09 am
Kerbe2705 – Absolutely a good decision! I am sure Aptera did a collective (Production, Finance, Engineering at the minimum) make-or-buy analysis. As long as they manage quality control for the incoming product, a good financial decision at this point that can be reviewed after an IPO or a valid prediction of consistent manufacturing volume. Source selection process will take quality and production capacity into account.
The management team is doing all of the right things to give production by end of 2022 the best probability.
MemberApril 10, 2022 at 1:46 pm
Twenty years ago, we bought a Porsche Boxster and visited the final assembly facility – in Finland. Almost everything was brought in as fairly complete packages, largely from Germany. For example, doors came from BMW in Munich and the drive train from Porsche itself. Pre-stamped panels would be joined together to form the body-in-white in Finland and painted there. The general assembly line actually made two cars, the Boxster and a Saab convertible. ( More recently, the Boxster has been being made in Austria. ) When we asked about that whole process, they said that most European cars were made this way, with suppliers bidding for whatever scope made sense and then assembled in “main factories” or at contract assemblers like themselves. I am pretty sure America is the same. Except for Tesla, which has reverted closer to the old Ford model – coal and ore in, cars out. I have faith Aptera management knows all this history and will be “traditional” because it is quicker and more flexible, especially in the beginning. Complex supply chains have in fact been quite reliable, barring a worldwide pandemic or, God forbid, a world war.