Aptera service/repair and warranty
In several discussions I keep hearing about warranties and how consumers want 10-year, 100,000+mile battery warranties, ten or twenty year paint warranties, etc. etc. etc.
Aptera, if nothing else, is a brand that insists on doing things differently. Start with the design; yeah … they were trying to do the maximum efficiency gig a dozen years ago (only to get torpedoed by the industry that knows how to compete on style and BS, not real efficiency). Then there is right to repair which promises innovative approaches to parts and service, followed by the use of lightweight composites in a monocoque shell for safety.
We know, among other things, that coming out the chute Aptera’s service approach is, at best, going to be a custom effort unless they can recruit local shops to provide service. Unless they limit sales to the SoCal area, dispensing factory agents to diagnose and fix problems is going to be a nightmare – unless the Aptera is near bulletproof from the get-go.
Those who receive their Aptera early in the production are going to be under pressure from the public to show off and even allow test drives. These early owners could do what I plan, which to list my Aptera on Turo for comprehensive test drives. I suspect a weekend test drive with the camper addition will be about $400. The question is how to get my ‘weekend customer’ a ‘credit’ against a new Aptera for that test drive. (I’m wondering if I might buy two or three)
The point is that how will hold up in this circumstance? Will I need additional service?
You could have a million mile warranty but if there is no one around to fix mine, the warranty is but a piece of paper.
Certainly, if through my allowing ‘test drives’ I will need to know someone who can actually service the vehicles. When the factory will locate a repair agent in the ATL metro or provide service direction is critical question. How this is accomplished has not yet been announced.
Neither has information relating to warranties or incentive referral programs and a host of other issues.
Personally, I am not expecting answers until we are much closer to the formal launch.
Is there a way to approach this whole marketing challenge in a way that solves the issues with enhanced consumer confidence? Could that approach be ‘out of the box’ … or are the risks associated with Aptera – already enormous – just so tenuous that a mind-grabbing alternate approach is out of the question?
There are ‘extended’ warranty companies operating out there. Given the transparency of Aptera and the advantage of right to repair, the idea is Aptera BizDev reaches out with the notion of having them handle warranty work, including their existing contacts with repair shops.
I too was skeptical as I’m thinking of some of the more questionable players but a legit company in that space could lend instant credibility as well as participate in the recruitment of retail shops all illustrated around the astounding transparency of the entire operation which starts compiling in the public – through the third party warranty insurance company’s publication of the parts on the Aptera and their MTBF.
The goal is to establish a warranty offering that is just too cool. Most of the expensive components are all warranted by original manufacturers like Elaphe and whomever is the source for Aptera’s batteries. The understanding is the warranty fulfilment company would be invited in to review the approach and to assess the aggregate warranty work.
Anyway, the actuaries who calculate this stuff will be taking into account various aspects of the repair and costs and hopefully will conclude, there is very little to break. And especially when things may fail, access to the problematic component is easy (remember you can take the car apart with hand tools in two hours – I don’t like to say that often cause that is like music to a thief’s ears but easy repair is the ticket.)
What would be really cool about a system like this is it basically details the problems customers have with the Aptera. In part because the essential elements are components, those components reliability will be understood. If, and it is a big IF, a particular component proves troublesome, it can not only be replaced with new production but also be packaged and available for retrofit.
So how do you make that happen?
You give the warranty in the form of an insurance policy that is bumper-to-bumper that is no-cost for 24-months but to continue bumper to bumper coverage for up to ten more years comes at an annual cost that will be adjusted in cost in conjunction with warranty claims. Certain components such as the wraps may have deductibles. Other retro-fit items may be upgradable under this kind of program. The biggest payoff to Aptera owners may be the cost of extending the warranty insurance another decade (20-year warranty).
Probably the coolest thing is this approach puts the incentive at Aptera on constant improvement to the componentry. Decisions on whether the upgrade ought to be universal or universal in one region but not another could be handled by the deductible for repair/replacement. Obviously replacing a part with an unauthorized one would risk voiding of the warranty.
If the ‘franchise’ for the warranty insurance were kept in-house, the funds from extended warranty expenses would be largely off-set by the insurance payments from owners extending their initial warranties. This could be adjusted by Aptera and also off-set by profits obtained by larger parts purchases and if they make the Aptera as bulletproof as we hope, this will be a corporate profit center.
If the franchise for the warranty were to be through a partnership with a third-party repair insurer, the initial impact would be enhanced credibility over option one because this is not a new business to the partner. As the warranties of the component mfgs cover most major costs during the first two years, the insurance payment to this third- party partnership should be comparatively modest. As the OEM warranty on some of those components will expire at presumably different times, the insurance paradigm for extending the warranty and maximizing customer satisfaction may, on the turf of right to repair, be a winner.
It is an idea that sketches a path toward the founder’s vision of a multi-generational car. What better way to market that than with a multi-generational warranty program.
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