ModeratorNovember 16, 2021 at 6:51 am
Aptera is not opening traditional showrooms across the globe. In a way I’m glad. The expense of maintaining such facilities would have to be reflected in the purchase price of the Aptera. On the other hand, the absence of showrooms does create one huge problem for potential buyers: they are unable to see, touch, smell, sit in, and drive an Aptera before purchasing one. Yes, I know there is the “drive-it-love-it-or-return-it” policy that mimics the 7 day return policy of online sellers like Carvana, Vroom, and CarMax. But let’s face it. Even this expedient doesn’t solve the problem of “how do I make a completely informed decision about buying” without the vehicle being in front of me. A skeptical buyer may not trust the free return policy or want to go through the hassle involved.
How to address this issue?
Enter Aptera owners and curious spectators. We can expect to have more than our fair share of strangers striking up conversations in parking lots and at traffic light along the lines of “What is that thing? How fast does it go? How far does it go?” For me, that will be part of the fun of owning an Aptera. Why not harness our ownership enthusiasm in a formal way? Each of us who would be willing to provide this free, in-person promotional service could be listed on map maintained by Aptera and available on their website. Aptera already has the Aptera Ambassador program to the tune of 500+ people around the world. I’m sure the majority of these people would give serious consideration to providing a service like this. How many of us on the forum would be willing to go so far as to meet prospective purchasers either at our homes or in some neutral, public location to give these folks the opportunity to see our Apterae in person, ask questions, and get a ride? Personally, I would not be willing to have a stranger drive my Aptera, even with me riding along as a passenger. But I would be willing to spend time in person with a prospective buyer and give him or her a ride.
Of course, not every Aptera owner would be willing to do this sort of thing, but I’m betting a significant portion of Aptera owners would. Likely it would be desirable to have the prospective owner sign some sort of waiver as part of this visit — blah, blah, John or Jane Doe is not an Aptera employee and anything that is said is only the opinion of the Aptera owner, Aptera owner is not liable if you stub your toe getting into the vehicle, etc.
What do you think of this “owner as unofficial factory representative” approach? Let’s remember that Facebook groups, cool website videos, and Google reviews only go so far. Virtual is not actual. Onscreen is not in person.
- This discussion was modified 2 weeks, 2 days ago by bbelcamino.
MemberNovember 16, 2021 at 7:35 am
I’m not loaning my aptera out to random people – but If I got a commission of the sale I’d be willing to be a lot more involved – especially if Aptera insured test drives and whatnot – I guess that’s an ambassadors job isn’t it? I’m super excited to show it off to people though! Some weird logistics would be involved in this but it’s an interesting idea. I’d have no problem with my contact information being shared to prospective customers to get in touch and come see it in my area.
MemberJanuary 7, 2022 at 10:11 am
Call me paranoid, but, I’m wondering if an odd looking car might not attract Odd people?
Personally I wouldn’t be comfortable giving out personal contact info at random publicly.
I think Aptera needs to find a way to maybe have temporary roving events whereby people can see, drive and ask questions, no permanent showrooms needed.
MemberNovember 16, 2021 at 7:37 am
I think you are right that this may happen informally. I’ve even wondered about leaving the Aptera parked out in the sunny lot with a few brochures under the wipers in case someone wants to learn more.
There are likely tradeoffs for doing things more formally, especially paperwork and lawyers, although perhaps that may be worth it with a high enough scale. Whether or not this could be someone’s side gig or full-time job is a good question for down the road.
MemberNovember 16, 2021 at 7:54 am
I’m sure once we’re all out and about in our Apterae, we’ll be getting inundated with all kinds of questions and requests for a ride. I’m sure most all of will be happy to at least answer questions, enthuse about all benefits, joys of ownership. I see anything more formal as fraught with difficulties: dicey legalities, scheduling hassles, personal safety, etc, etc.
I would totally be willing to hand out Aptera developed info sheets which would include most relevant FAQs
ModeratorNovember 16, 2021 at 8:06 am
Completely understand and support the need to avoid legal liability entanglements as Peter, Andy, and Lou have referenced. Certainly the practice of leaving flyers on the parked vehicle or reference to the Aptera website is an easy, low-risk strategy that the vast majority of us would be willing to do.
MemberNovember 16, 2021 at 8:53 am
Idea: Have small readable Aptera website etched into side window glass or have Aptera license plate holders with same – always there, no need for info sheets blowing away, getting rained on, running out!
MemberNovember 16, 2021 at 9:09 am
I recommend having your referral code minified, converted into a QR code and placed on your window. Physical fliers could likely just end up everywhere. This was discussed in another thread someone had it along with a 3d printed mini and in their current EV.
MemberNovember 16, 2021 at 11:17 am
QR code. Of course. Why didn’t I think of that!
Maybe because approaching 74, I never pay them much attention. Perhaps a decal that comes with car…shouldn’t be up to owners to affix.
MemberJanuary 3, 2022 at 10:13 pm
A generic code to the website, perhaps, but I doubt Aptera could supply a custom referral QR code with each vehicle…
MemberNovember 16, 2021 at 11:34 am
I have long given this thought also.
It does seem to be a scenario where the whole referral code business actually begins to make sense. That is, if you are not already a popular Youtuber or similar influencer.
My initial thinking was along the lines of someone asking about your peculiar vehicle and in addition to sharing your enthusiasm, you hand them a card with the website and your referral code. I suppose having a sticker on your Aptera with a QR code that will get you there is the more 21st century version of that, and has the added benefit of not requiring the owner to be on hand.
Too busy already to consider the idea of driving around to meet with perspective buyers though. On the other hand, the parking lot at my workplace is clearly visible from the freeway and there is what amounts to a grassy plinth in the corner nearest to the road that I imagine parking the Aptera on. Seems a great place to get plenty of solar gain and show it off to all passers by.
MemberNovember 16, 2021 at 1:04 pm
I like your ideas but I still don’t have a button to say so!
MemberNovember 16, 2021 at 1:11 pm
Give me one for free and I’ll promote the hell out of it, I suggested. That was probably a bit to much to chew on…..hahaha….
MemberNovember 16, 2021 at 1:11 pm
So my response to Curtis may have been misunderstood. Not thinking QR code on decal would put interested party in touch with owner (guess you could do that to if you were willing to be that approachable) but rather it would be Aptera business QR code that would provide individual with all the basic information on Aptera. If wanted to get fancy, they could perhaps individualize with regard to providing info on your particular vehicle.
ModeratorNovember 16, 2021 at 1:09 pm
Interesting that what started as a trial balloon of person-to-person contact has devolved into an arms length technical discussion of QR codes and what-not’s. Ah, for the good old handshake over the car hood days pre-COVID-19;)) Once more, we’re sucked into the Matrix. LOL
MemberNovember 16, 2021 at 2:50 pm
Ok so basically we need a system where they can connect potential owners that want a test drive with existing owners. They can give them a pitch and go for a drive. If the prospective owner buys the owner gets a small commission, referral bonus, swag or something. Essentially you get owners with the time to act as sales volunteers.
I don’t even have the car yet and I’ve got 3 people reserved with my code.
To some degree youtube, word of mouth and the quality of the product will help drive accelerating interest. It will take 2-3 years to catch up with current reservations anyway and once people see these on the roads it will get attention.
Note: Obviously approach is not viable until covid is done….
ModeratorNovember 16, 2021 at 3:05 pm
Like your comment, Curtis. Thanks. Good points.
MemberNovember 16, 2021 at 9:53 pm
The conversation could become even more wide-ranging, especially when you’re talking about sales and service delivery. We all know that you can sell things over the Internet. We also know that Aptera has too much at stake to send out a problematic vehicle with several problem areas impacting significant portions of the production because service would kill them.
Then there is the ‘plan,’ which calls for an IPO of some sort once production is underway; the proceeds from which will be used to expand to four or perhaps five or more mini-factories … in various sections of the nation – northeast, south east, midwest, etc. – ‘or, if things go like Rivian 50 or 100 such mini-factories.
The latter would seem silly, unless you look at all the other opportunities this kind of distributed assembly makes possible. What if those 100 mini-factories were also sales centers and all-electric car parts.
If you’ve seen any of the SEMA stuff – drive motors with electronics and 20kw of batteries in a ‘custom case’ designed to not only fit in the position of the engine and transmission, but use the motor mounts for that vehicle and the case is stylized to look like a big V-8. There is a little additional wiring but cooling and other aspects are part of something that will soon be a bolt-in ICE replacement. These are plainly engineered conversion kits and there are plenty of places to hide additional batteries in that old Escalade or Navigator. If it is done right; and if it accelerates the transition to carbon free transportation, conversions ought to be an option. I mean we have tons of 5,000 lb rolling stock, why manufacture more coaches.
The point is if you combine retail sales of cars and all EV parts including batteries and service to the ‘mini-factory’ custom ‘lean-design’ assembly like that planned for Aptera, you have a natural business incubator that brings the engineering resources available nationally to a hundred disbursed markets, each poised to serve the needs of its region.
A tech college in one community may be engaged with its local mini-factory to design the active rear suspension for the Aptera. That work, once it is proven, can be quickly distributed to the remaining ‘retail factories’.
Even cooler, by expanding into the EV parts business literally on behalf of Aptera’s suppliers (and others), those suppliers get much greater market exposure and sales.
The really cool thing would be if a group of investors came together to form an ancillary business to does just this, including enough space to do an Aptera assembly line. It might be that these new businesses gives Aptera a great deal for their use of the assembly area.
The real savings Aptera would accrue would be in its inevitable geographic expansion. What this ‘grass roots’ effort does is accept the responsibility for the siting and leasing of appropriate property in locations suitable for a specialty Electric Vehicle Service and Parts outfit. I suspect there is a critical need for a chain of knowledgeable EV repair techs with lots of cool parts for conversions as well as replacing the battery in your old Volt.
From a brief encounter with the auto parts business, I get there are some attractive tax advantages in how inventory is handled. I suspect these ‘retail EV parts and service’ will also be in line to add sales and service for Aptera and possibly a host of Chinese EV brands you buy online.
That these are independent businesses means that their funding is distinct from Aptera. This also means that the proceeds of Aptera’s expected IPO could be leveraged to produce more cars in more locations sooner.
If successful, such fandom-driven synergistic investments came to pass they would be a business story worth telling.
MemberNovember 16, 2021 at 3:20 pm
I absolutely agree. I would be happy to show my Aptera and give someone a test drive. Having a vehicle such as the Aptera will create curiosity at least. What better way to educate people than let them take a test drive. I still remember driving my first electric car. There is nothing like experiencing the raw torque from electric motors. No turbo lag, no gears to fuss with, and no optimum torque rpm range. Just pure driving pleasure.
ModeratorNovember 16, 2021 at 4:20 pm
Dan, thanks for reminding us about the experience of driving an EV for the first time. I remember it well and, as you say, it is a powerful incentive for buying an EV. For the record, I’m happy to give someone a ride in my Aptera when I get it. I fall short of being OK with someone else driving it;)
MemberNovember 16, 2021 at 4:22 pm
I wanted three things: 1) an electric vehicle, 2) a two seater, 3) and long range. The Aptera gives all three to me.
There is only one catch: I am a hermit, I do not like people, and I prefer to be left alone. All the people asking me about it is going to be a nightmare!
I may put a sign in the window saying: 1) The vehicle is called Aptera 2) Yes, I do like it 3) Go look it up.
ModeratorNovember 16, 2021 at 4:33 pm
Just as I have with my Tesla, I’d be glad to sponsor Aptera test drives when the time comes. So would many others. I’m not even sure much incentive would be needed. The sales part of a national network seems to me to be the easiest part.
Harder, for me, is to imagine the national service network, especially warranty service in the beginning. The mobile technician solution sounds very iffy, as it was for Tesla before they got big.
My sense is that the Aptera Ambassadors could provide some basis, but it would take corporate endorsement, organization, and training.
MemberNovember 16, 2021 at 5:23 pm
With the relatively few components, and relatively simple assembly hopefully the issues are minor. It is definitely a legitimate concern especially if you are outside of California. Personally as an investor with belief in the vision I know this is an unfortunately necessary growing pain.
Due to the modular nature of the design it is plausible that rather than scaling to larger and larger central factories (Tesla) they will instead have relatively small assembly plants assembling cars and acting as service hubs in most major cities. Specifications and parts availability with right to repair is important but the company will need a service strategy beyond that.
MemberNovember 16, 2021 at 5:27 pm
For whatever it’s worth, this kinda thing is done with some trailer companies (available to show, share experiences, answer questions) like Oliver Travel Trailers (they sell direct) and I believe Escape does something similar too.
MemberNovember 17, 2021 at 3:00 am
As an Aptera ambassador I would let anyone seriously considering buying one have a test drive in mine. Also will give anyone just interested in it a ride. I don’t think that I would be loaning it out to anyone except very close family the first few years.
MemberNovember 17, 2021 at 10:39 am
I’ll let anyone interested in Aptera drive mine when I have time. Anyone I know can just borrow it as long as I don’t need it. I’d probably ride along if anyone I don’t know wants to drive it, or just take let them ride along if they don’t seem trustworthy.
If I ever manage to get enough referrals for a second Aptera, I’ll try to find somewhere visible to park it and let anyone willing to sign an agreement to pay the cost of any damage or parkingtickets etc drive it for a day or two on a first come, first served basis.
When it comes to referrals, I see a few issues:
– It’s not possible for someone who is already registered on the Aptera site to use a referral code, or so I’ve heard. It may be unintentional, but I think you should be able to register a referral code at least up to the point you make a reservation.
– There’s a risk of influencers getting an unreasonable ammount of referrals. A youtuber with half a million followers could get 10 new almost fully specced Apteras if just 0.1% of their followers buys an Aptera using their referral code.
– There’s no guaranteed reward for helping sell an Aptera. It’s up to the buyer to decide who he wants to get the referral. Since the referrals are quite valuable, I see a significant risk here that a new buyer tries to “trade” or “sell” their referral instead of handing it to the one who’s actually put in the time to “sell” the Aptera.
MemberNovember 17, 2021 at 10:49 am
I think assisting in test drives needs to be separate from typical referrals. Having typical referrals doesn’t do anything unless you want another vehicle or perhaps official accessories. If they are on the tesla network with the plug maybe we can get supercharger miles if they don’t want to deal with cash. SWAG is always an option also.
No idea how many referrals youtubers will actually get but it is unlikely to be 10 cars in my opinion (maybe 2 at most). I would encourage anyone to support smaller Aptera specific youtubers instead of Zack and Jessy. They are providing a service to the entire industry and deserve some compensation for assisting in the sale of vehicles like anyone else (I have 3 friends that used my code). Free market – cant really consider them any different from word of mouth referals.
MemberNovember 19, 2021 at 5:33 am
My plan is simple: Go to a high visibility parking area, Close to the entrance, wait for the people, sell them on the Aptera, hand them a business card with my referral code and wait for my free Aptera. The second option is to park and place business cards on the wind screen (with the codes) and wait for it,…get my free second Aptera. Then, I sell the Model 3 and buy a third and a forth for my grandkids.
MemberNovember 19, 2021 at 1:46 pm
Personally, if owning one of these highly attractive cars I would look forward to FSD because then I could stand in the middle of nowhere and call my vehicle to pick me up. This is much more desirable than fighting my way through a crowd back to my parking space just so I can get to the next place.
MemberJanuary 1, 2022 at 5:19 pm
I think it would be valuable for my fellow Ambassadors and me to have business cards with our referral codes to distribute to interested persons. Has anyone already designed one?
ModeratorJanuary 1, 2022 at 6:36 pm
Hi, William. I thought there were a couple of folks who have done that, but I’m not aware of any examples being posted. I know that Aptera has a new employee who is going to be working more directly with the 500+ ambassadors and a variety of tools, including a stock business card template, are being seriously considered.
MemberJanuary 3, 2022 at 10:19 pm
William, all you need to do is to ask Audra – Aptera already supplies business cards to Ambassadors.
MemberJanuary 2, 2022 at 6:37 am
Many Great Thinks have been Thunk and Pasted here!
Much Like when SAAB Introduced their Three Cylinder Two Stroke to Washington D.C. area Sports Car Clubs, There will be Small Crowds around every APTERA, for some time. I will revel in Giving Free Rides. Friends and Relatives will get to Drive.
Here’s My Best Think: Because of My Career, I am fairly certain that I will be able to Help APTERA Owners’ Club Members with Most problems and services to/for their Wonderful Machines. BUUT, since I attended Law School, (Not a Lawyuh, Not a lawyuh) I am leery of some aspects of Loaning, Giving Rides, and Fixing a Vehicle Not Mine. I will probably Limit My Assistance to those who will perform the Services/Repairs WITH Me. The Video Courses, YouChube Vids and manuals might make My Think Useless, eh?
MemberJanuary 3, 2022 at 4:17 pm
I agree that something like you describe with introduction of the SAAB is inevitable. (It would be really cool if the masterminds doing the UI, out of their quest for the best were somehow inspired to tune whatever sport mode they make to optimize handling in an autocross … ’cause they like autocross. (I’m hoping that Morgan dream handling will be a winner particularly with three-wheel torque vectoring.)
If I were calling the shots, it would be a priority of mine.
On the more general topic of others driving one’s car and the like. I would think there is a possibility for a cooler way to do it with presumably zero financial risk. How? There is a service called, I think, Turo.com … and its a online service that intermediates daily rentals which can be somewhat pricy for the more exotic vehicles offered.
Certainly it hints at an aspirational market – people who rent an AMG, vette, McLaren, Ferrari, etc. – would be interested in a low cost, low maintenance, two-seat vehicle that goes 0-60 in 3.5 seconds, looks cool and goes 1000 miles on a charge.
I’ve got two unspecified reservations from my investment in addition to the original (preceding) reservation.
I don’t know that you couldn’t make money doing this. Hell, if three or four of us in a market were to cash in our additional reservations, the inventory would be a self-liquidating resource with significant potential for obtaining … or even delivering … Aptera to a market.
As is obvious with this discussion, the concept of ‘ambassadors’ as fill-ins for the function dealer’s have traditionally provided to the market, doesn’t doesn’t eliminate the expectations of consumers.
Another lesson is that no matter what you do, dealers will arise. Look at baseball cars, coins and comic books – there are dealers who self-selected from their love of their hobby.
In any case, I think folks here and at Aptera corporate need to noodle a bit more on the notion of ambassadors and dealers. For instance, if I were 20 years younger and more mechanically inclined, I’d see myself with my three reservations and would begin offering to rent it on a daily rate … and under this guise I bet you could sell a 10-minute test drive for $20. Turo does it like this with a daily rate ranging from $80-$130.
<b uid=”338969e3-2656-4c4c-958e-4131a072dbd2″>Test drive a Tesla on Turo
Curious about all the Tesla hype? Want to know what it’s like to drive and live with an electric vehicle? Book a Tesla here on Turo and test drive it for a few days to get a sense of what the electric life is like. You can test out charging a Tesla at your home, at your office, or at charging stations around town.
But if you want something exotic, Lamborghini’s cost from $700-1000/day and you’ve got to know that despite the low cost of the Aptera, on day one it is going to come across a lot more exotic than a 2018 model 3.
And that 20-year younger me would definitely be out autocrossing, parading and trying to stay out of jail. And if I had reservations from four or five other folks – you know the extra ones’- I’d be buying and either renting or reselling the others at a nice profit.
And since this much younger man than I now had moved 30+ Apterea and has been maintaining three or four Apterea on Turo it maybe that the guy assigned by Aptera corporate and I rent a closed traditional gas station … and voila … you got a dealer.
This is a unique time to be coming to market in this market because, at present, the only examples are also in their infantcy meaning an inquisitive call to a couple of the Tesla renters on Turo may uncover how Tesla itself is interacting with these guys. Are they providing incentives?
As I said above, I think this area is one ripe with opportunity for those who thinking deeply in the area and is willing to entertain market innovators.
ModeratorJanuary 4, 2022 at 5:55 am
George, you certainly have given this a good deal of thought. I think it’s a workable and creative approach to solving the issue of Aptera NOT having a dealer network. Now all we need is the actual production Apterae! Happy New Year.
MemberJanuary 4, 2022 at 11:16 pm
You see my thinking in my writing. My mind putters along all the time but the only time it seems to count is when it is reduced to writing.
I think most any one could do this anywhere and since it will be a while before I get my Aptera, I’m hoping someone will do the Turo gig in say LA and see how it goes for them.
Further, I suspect other Aptera owners may see this rental gig approach as a way to make some money and do it in additional cities.
Would ‘sacrificing’ by making the vehicles available for three day test drive rentals deserves quick delivery to the east coast? I’m going to say it ought not. Based on numbers, my reservation is clocking in the 20xxx series placed in April ’21 so it may be a while. I would hope not to lose first mover advantage in the market I’m in but that is something I don’t think I have control over.
ModeratorJanuary 5, 2022 at 5:48 am
Your point about the effect of writing reminded me of this hoary old quote:
“Reading maketh a full man; and writing an axact man. And, therefore, if a man write little, he need have a present wit; and if he read little, he need have much cunning to seem to know which he doth not.”
― Francis Bacon
I would say in Aptera land, thinking outside of the box makes for an innovative vision and engineering makes it so!
MemberJanuary 4, 2022 at 11:32 am
How about following what Tesla does for “Dog Mode” but instead have the screen show that the car is currently charging via the sun. For more info, scan the QR code on the window.