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Automotive X Prize: Aptera comes out swinging

With the Automotive X Prize competition, Aptera has stood apart from its competition–literally–being a germinating business that presents itself with a bold corporate image. Where the other competitors have been cramped in the shared garages, Aptera sets up shop alongside its impressive 18-wheeled hauler apart from the other teams. But this popular favorite was humbled in the Shakedown phase by the emergency-avoidance maneuver test, as captured on video. A key question I had entering this new, more vital phase, would Aptera be ready?

In speaking with team leader, Marques McCammon, he explained what happened with the Shakedown and assured me the team was ready for the Knockout.

As McCammon describes it, the contest exposes projects under development. For Aptera, this meant that the public saw a prototype model facing a new test for the first time. The team had adjusted their production schedule to fit the X Prize schedule, meaning they may not have been as ready as they hoped, and the company is still conducting “coarse tuning” on the Aptera 2e.

The Aptera door that famously opened on one of the 38 attempts required to pass the emergency-avoidance maneuver test is a good example of a team learning in the field. The doors use an electric actuator, much like that in a Chevrolet Corvette or Dodge Viper, whereby you push the button and the door opens. That button had been put on the door trim facing the driver’s left knee. In normal driving, it would likely be a non-issue, but when threading through the cones at the performance limits, the driver’s knee tapped the button. It has since been moved.



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