It's the start of the month, which means it's time for another newsletter from Aptera, the company struggling against the odds to launch its ultra-aerodynamic, ultra-futuristic three-wheeled electric vehicle by the end of 2011. According to Aptera the vehicle is going through some more redesigns intended to lighten it and prevent the door flying open while cornering, something it attributes to the door switch being hit by the driver's knee in the now infamous Automotive X-Prize video.

It is just the latest in the string of bad news from Aptera, including financial woes and claims of mismanagement.

Aptera's door lever, responsible for the door opening at the Automotive X-Prize.

Aptera's door lever, responsible for the door opening at the Automotive X-Prize.

According to Aptera, the door release button for the 2e is a simple push button, and jutted above the rest of the door trim. Whilst the electric vehicle was undergoing the rigours of the handling course at the May stage of the Progressive Insurance Automotive X-Prize -- a course which the Aptera 2e had to attempt many times before successfully completing -- the driver pushed the door open button with his knee.

Aptera have apparently fixed the issue by recessing the button into the trim panel. In the newsletter, Aptera admit the whole door opening fiasco wasn't fun for them.

"This is a rather embarrassing way to learn a lesson on design, but we learned nonetheless...The good news is the team has redesigned the door trim panels so this shouldn't happen again."

The fixed 2e door release.

The fixed 2e door release.

When it comes to shedding weight, Aptera are still using hand fabrication techniques to develop and modify components which it hopes will lighten the three-wheeled EV after the previous build was "notably overweight".

Aptera does not divulge just how overweight the last prototype was, but overweight or inadequate load spreading could certainly explain why the Aptera 2e was tail-happy at the previous X-Prize stage.

Interestingly, Aptera refers to the current prototypes as still being in the design-intent stage rather than production-intent. In other words, it still has to finalize a working, pre-production model which carries all of the engineering and styling modifications necessary for production.

With approximately twelve months remaining before the 2e is set to hit the streets, Aptera must soon finalize a production intent vehicle or risk setting the launch date back again.  For a company already loosing reservations to the 2010 Nissan Leaf and 2011 Chevrolet Volt, Aptera needs to deliver on its promises to have a safe, fuel efficient vehicle in time to sell by Fall 2011.

Somehow that seems unlikely at the moment.  Aptera are using the X-Prize as a public beta testing ground, where everyone gets to see the mistakes it is making.

Every automotive company makes mistakes. One look at Toyota's recent history with sudden unintended acceleration and brake concerns is enough to illustrate consumer concerns about safety and the importance of handling engineering oversights in a responsible way.

Publicly displaying and competing in a vehicle which clearly isn't ready for prime time is not a conventional way to win customers, but perhaps Aptera hopes its openness about mistakes made and corrected will create an endearing, honest air about the company.

Sadly, most of the public and dwindling Aptera fans will look upon Aptera's problems as a further incentive to cancel that reservation and look elsewhere for a fast, efficient electric vehicle.

If you're in the mood to watch Aptera at the next stage of the X-Prize you can do so at the Michigan International Speedway on June 25th, 2010.