Side Impact Air Bags

Aptera Community Aptera Discussions Side Impact Air Bags

Aptera Community Aptera Discussions Side Impact Air Bags

  • Side Impact Air Bags

    Posted by john-trotter on June 3, 2022 at 8:11 am

    One technical point I have not seen discussed has been side-impact air bags, sometimes called air-bag curtains. The only mention I have seen so far about air bags has been a lap harness installation, similar to that used in small aircraft. Aircraft generally do not protect against side impact, so that would not seem to me to be the answer. Aptera’s passenger capsule is quite robust, not unlike certain race car configurations, but those race cars come with helmeted occupants. I’d like to be certain that head impact is not a problem in Aptera side-impact accidents. Discovering a problem in crash testing would be too late.

    Sam replied 2 months, 3 weeks ago 11 Members · 13 Replies
  • 13 Replies
  • Side Impact Air Bags

    Sam updated 2 months, 3 weeks ago 11 Members · 13 Replies
  • kerbe2705

    June 3, 2022 at 8:27 am

    @John Trotter The purpose of crash testing is to determine if the mitigation strategies are functional and sufficient: If they need to be adjusted and/or improved a vehicle can be retested after the changes are made – so it’s not “too late”.

    • ROMAD

      June 3, 2022 at 8:45 am

      Are you talking about pre or post production crash testing? The former usually takes several weeks or even months so it could be “too late” if deliveries are to start this year (unless Aptera plans to recall and replace 2022 production vehicles if they fail the crash tests).

  • Biker

    June 3, 2022 at 1:24 pm

    I don’t believe any supplemental air bags have ever been promised – I wouldn’t expect anything but frontal ones.

    • john-trotter

      June 3, 2022 at 6:59 pm

      I am pretty sure there are no plans beyond frontal bags for the driver and passenger. Hopefully, side impact testing is being modeled accurately before it has to be done with real dummies. To maintain schedule, crash testing needs to be confirmation, not discovery.

    • ROMAD

      June 3, 2022 at 7:57 pm

      Side airbags aren’t specifically mandated, but nearly all manufacturers include them as standard equipment in order to meet federal side protection requirements. So it will depend on whether or not the basic Aptera body can satisfy the federal side protection rules.

  • george-hughes

    June 8, 2022 at 9:12 am

    Someone asked if side-impact air-bags might be retro-fitted.


    I suspect, if the Aptera proves as popular as I hope, pressure will be put on Aptera for custom seats/trims. Seats are really key to the safety thing and, yes, you can incorporate side air bags into the seat structure. They will have as much to do about the Aptera’s safety in side-impacts as the air-bags.

    I look forward to the day when two or three seat ‘options’ arrive including one, I’ll call the ‘cocoon’ which with its combination of belts, structure and strength of the seat, does the job almost as well as a seat designed specifically for racing (I.e. a full shoulder harness, superior head protection, etc.).

    You could buy one of these and pay to have it installed but given the likelihood – or more properly the rarity of such collisions – extreme overkill I’d recommend you go with the ‘designed’ seat for the vehicle.

    Different people have different fears and expectations. Me, well if you count the indiscretions of youth, I’ve probably stopped at 94 percent of all the stop signs I encountered and never was once T-boned, nor have I T-boned anyone.

    Recalling a comment from Sandy Monro about side-impacts, he noted the ‘curvature’ of the body and suggested glancing blow even in a full-side impact. In terms of physics, this would suggest first that the rear of the Aptera will be the first design element to define the event as the vehicle will begin to lift and possibly roll over as it absorbs the impact.

    If it doesn’t roll over, then the Aptera will come to rest headed toward the t-boning vehicle. If it rolls, it will ruin the finish and destroy some solar cells and possibly break some glass as it slides away from the point of impact.

    I can’t imagine the Aptera emulating a ping-pong ball in this scenario although I do expect it to show greater ‘movement’ than a typical 2-ton vehicle in reaction. This additional movement is actually great as Aptera’s strong composite monocoque transfers more of the energy to movement than it does to crushing.

    A greater concern regarding crashworthyness might be whether the doors will work after an accident … and whether the doors will work if the Aptera is topsy-turvy and how you could exit the vehicle if it were upside down?

    Also, I’m curious if the mere strength of the Aptera cockpit might also require first responder training on use of the jaws of life – where to place it to whack open a wrecked Aptera to extricate a fellow Apterian.

  • Qiang

    October 12, 2022 at 12:28 pm

    Aptera is about 200 pounds lighter than a smart-for-two. Watching this Smart and Mercedes C-class headon video (below) has me thinking that we really want a side impact airbag for Aptera, because it will be pushed backward and thrown around in any direction in a real world crash.

    • jonah-jorgenson

      October 12, 2022 at 2:07 pm

      The Aptera is not a Smart for two or a Mercedes C-class. Certainly not made out of the same materials.

      My thinking, we wait until official crash testing to government standards is complete to determine what would happen to an Aptera in all of the testing scenarios. I believe it is premature to speculate without real world testing data How the Aptera would respond.

  • jonathan-rice

    November 23, 2022 at 11:41 pm

    I am hoping that Aptera will “do the right thing” in the end, and build in side-impact airbags into the final design. If they don’t, then I’m sorry to say that I’ll probably cancel my reservation because of this. Side-impact airbags are really a standard safety feature on modern cars – not providing them will be a significant black mark against Aptera, IMHO. Just go look at any old IIHS test images for cars with just front airbags, and you will see how sickeningly often the dummy’s head impacts the side of the car. It just doesn’t make sense to buy a new car without this important safety feature, IMHO.

    Another poster above wondered whether the Aptera would come off as badly as the small car in the linked IIHS video, given the much different construction of the Aptera. Well, there is maybe a precedent which sheds some light on this – the BMW i3, which also has a relatively light body, since it’s made of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP). I was looking into buying an i3 several years ago, so I tried to find any information about how they fared in crashes. It was hard to find many specifics, but anecdotal reports in i3 forums, etc., seemed to suggest that (1) the CFRP frame was extremely strong and protective, and (2) the i3 got pushed around a lot in crashes, due to the same laws of physics described in the IIHS video – the heavier car tends to “win”. This gives me pause with the even-lighter Aptera. I am confident that the carbon-fiber structure of its cabin will protect well against external intrusion and crushing, but I am very concerned about the likelihood of head impacts against the cabin wall during any crash that has a lateral component. I shall watch and wait with hope for any announcement from the company that they have decided to put airbags into the seat sides or (less likely?) the doors.

    • This reply was modified 3 months, 4 weeks ago by  Jonathan Rice.
    • glenn-zajic

      November 24, 2022 at 7:33 am

      I agree that it would be a substantial improvement to the vehicles safety and great selling point Jonathan.

    • ROMAD

      November 24, 2022 at 9:28 am

      Another thought: will there be the side impact beams in the doors that are mandatory on 4 wheeled vehicles?

    • william-anderson

      December 27, 2022 at 9:51 am

      I agree with Jonathan Rice – I would likely cancel my reservation if Aptera fails to have at least an option for side-impact airbags. I would gladly pay extra for their inclusion.

      I wonder if the apparent lack of side-impact airbags in the Delta is due to A) lack of engineering resources / time, B) lack of a supplier contract, or C) the impact to the cost / price of the Aptera product. If the answer is C), inclusion of side airbags should be optional.

  • Sam

    December 27, 2022 at 9:58 am

    I think it’s because a Delta hasn’t been crash tested yet. If it’s deemed necessary they’ll add it. And if not, I don’t think it’ll be made an option.

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