In early January, I got a member e-newsletter from the Electric Vehicle Association announcing that the annual meeting would be held January 28 in Carlsbad CA at the headquarters of Aptera Motors. (Here’s my referral link if you are interested in reserving one for yourself). Being newly re-retired (mandatory leave from contracting), this seemed like a great opportunity to get out of winter for a few days, meet with other EV enthusiasts and see the Aptera up close.
A few days later, flights, hotel and rental car (a Tesla Model 3 from Hertz) were booked and I headed out on Thursday, February 26 in plenty of time to participate in all the related activities. Karen and I have taken several trips to San Diego while our son was a PhD candidate at UC San Diego, and she traveled with me for work meetings in the ’90s, and in 2019. During the 2019 trip, Karen visited the San Diego Botanic Garden and highly recommended it. Since I had a full day on Friday before the BBQ at EVA president, Elaine Borseth’s, house, I made plans to check it out. Photos from that visit:
The Welcome BBQ Friday evening was a lot of fun with about 60 attendees. Many thanks to Elaine for hosting us in her beautiful home and back yard. Yes, that’s the view from upstairs!
Saturday was the main event with Aptera tour and rides scheduled in the morning and the EVA annual meeting itself scheduled in the afternoon, all at Aptera HQ in Carlsbad. The tour was really interesting with two marketing people and an engineer on hand to describe the various testing benches, prototypes, carbon fiber body, battery pack and future plans for the assembly floor layout.
There were only a few test rides so I was fortunate to get one of them. Below is a video from that experience. The sound isn’t great since it was a windy day and the beta prototype we rode in doesn’t have doors. If you listen with headphones, you can easily pick up our conversation where Nicholas, driver and engineer, answers my vehicle questions and describes several technical aspects of the vehicle.
Chris Anthony, co-CEO of Aptera, was the keynote speaker for the EVA meeting and answered a bunch of questions after his talk. The Aptera vehicle is production ready, but the company needs one more round of financing to kick off the production build of the Launch Edition (for which I have a reservation). The company is partly crowd-funded, and Chris announced a novel new funding approach at the meeting. Individuals who have a reservation and invest at least $10,000 are guaranteed one of the first 2000 launch edition vehicles. Further, 10k+ investor delivery orders (first 2000) are rank-ordered by investment amount. Assuming Aptera fills all 2000 priority orders with 10k+ investors, this will raise a minimum of $20m, which is a significant fraction of the $60m they need to start production. They are pursuing several additional funding sources including a California state grant and a federal grant and loan, along with additional private sources.
Chris hung around for the EVA meeting and I had a chance to talk to him about Aptera’s manufacturing engagement with Munro and Associates, the failure of other start-ups, DC fast charging and other topics. Sandy is an Aptera investor and reservation holder. Here’s a video of Sandy talking to co-CEOs Chris Anthony and Steve Fambro.
In the evening, attendees met at Windmill Food Hall in Carlsbad. Sunday morning’s scheduled event was a EVs and Espresso Meetup at the Carlsbad Premium Outlets by the Tesla Superchargers. This felt a lot like the many EV meet-ups I’ve attended, but unfortunately, the weather was pretty terrible for San Diego; windy, rainy and cold. Despite the conditions, we hung out, talked EVs, and some of us did a test ride in an ElectraMeccanica Solo. These cute, single seat autocycles (3 wheel, reverse tadpole trike) are in production and selling for $15,500. There is available inventory in CA and they will ship them anywhere in the US. The Solo isn’t powerful or quick, but feels surprisingly solid when driving, though it is a bit difficult to get in and out of for the tall and old (me). It is a neat little commuter vehicle (sort of like an all-weather motorcycle), that is very efficient with a single motor driving the rear wheel (like a Polaris Slingshot) through a Kevlar belt. It has a 100 mile range (mixed city driving) and is capable of charging the 17.4kWh battery in 2.5 hours on Level 2 (240V).
Sunday afternoon I visited a friend who I met in the Altoistes and Tesla Towing Club Facebook groups. Harvey lives in Ramona CA and tows a Safari Condo Alto A2414 with a Tesla Model X. He cordially invited me out for an afternoon of desert wildflower viewing near Borrego Springs and as a bonus, drove us out to Fonts Point, a senic overlook about 4 miles off the road. The Model X with air suspension is a pretty decent off-road vehicle.
Monday I headed back to LA and stopped by the Talking Tesla studios to record a possible podcast with producer and host, Tom Wolfson. This was a lot of fun for me as I have been listening to these guys since pretty much the beginning in 2015 and they have become friends in my mind after all those hours of listening. They gave me a tour of the studio (part of a large house in Woodland Hills) and then Tom and I stepped into a recording booth and talked Aptera and other EV topics. Not sure if or when Tom will get time to produce it, but it was great just to meet him and Mel, who are the two original hosts. No pictures, unfortunately.