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Future Car - Aptera

Updated on August 29, 2011

Aptera

According to Paul Wilbur, Chief Executive Officer of Aptera Motors, Aptera is Greek for "wingless flight." The Aptera is unusual for electric cars in that it has only three wheels, two in front and one in back. The original design had the electric motor driving the back wheel, but the current design transferred the "motive" force to the front wheels.

Funding for Aptera Motors (formerly Accelerated Composites) is from founder Steve Fambro, at $100,000.00, Idealab at one million ($1,000,000.00) and Google.org at two point seven (2.7) million dollars. Total investments to date account for about twenty-four (24) million dollars.

As of this writing, four thousand Californians have plunked down a $500.00 deposit and the rights to "first dibs" on the production 2e. This includes Robin Williams, Shaquille O'Neil, and Tom Hanks. The orders account for a potential $120,000,000 in sales. Not bad for a start up.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Aptera 2e in New YorkAptera, open doorAptera, three quarter viewAptera cockpit
Aptera 2e in New York
Aptera 2e in New York
Aptera, open door
Aptera, open door
Aptera, three quarter view
Aptera, three quarter view
Aptera cockpit
Aptera cockpit

Aptera Motors is currently seeking further funding for the final push to market.

Recent changes to the staff of Aptera Motors;

  • Paul Wilbur was hired as Chief Executive Officer by Steve Fambro in September 2008.
  • Steve Fambro, founder, became Chief Technical Officer stepping aside for Wilbur.
  • Neil Hannemann as project manager, managed production of the Dodge Viper, the Ford GT, and the Saleen S7
  • Tony Kirton was hired as Chief Marketing Officer. His previous experience includes "five years as Director of Marketing at Audi of America, Vice President of Sales for Volkswagen & Audi in Great Britain, and Chief Marketing Officer on the executive board of BMW’s South African"
  • Marques McCammon, who previously worked with Paul Wilbur at both American Speciality Cars and Saleen, Inc. wil lead marketing.
  • Tom Reichenbach, as chief engineer, who worked on the Ford GT and Shelby GT500 joined the company in October 2008.

Where the original Aptera had side and rearview mounted cameras, with displays on the dash, the newest iteration (2e) has standard mirrors on the doors while retaining a wide field of view camera mounted on the roof.

Aptera's coefficient of drag is somewhere between 0.155. This is an extremely low number and considering that most automobiles expend 70% of their energy just to push air aside the number makes Aptera very efficient.

The Aptera 2e should be able to travel one hundred fifty (150) miles on a single charge and attain up to ninety (90) miles per hour. The Aptera will be able to run at an efficient equivalent of 200 to 250 miles per gallon.

There is also a "series hybrid" (the 2h) in the works. This version will feature a small gasoline engine driving a generator which in turn charges the batteries that drive the electric motor. SAE does not consider this a true hybrid. Europe calls this a series hybrid and GM a "range extended" vehicle. The 2h will be able to travel six hundred (600) miles between fill-ups.

The first street legal Aptera should hit the roads of Southern California next month; October 2009.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Aptera 2e overhead shotAptera Mk 1
Aptera 2e overhead shot
Aptera 2e overhead shot
Aptera Mk 1
Aptera Mk 1

Capacities & Specifications

Aptera 2e will seat two large adults and is capable of carrying three golf bags or sixteen grocery bags at three hundred pounds of groceries.

The 2e currently features a bank of solar cells on the roof of the car. These cells power a heat pump which keeps the cars interior cool(er) even if the car is turned off. The 2e also features an instrument cluster that gives a rearward view via the wide angle camera, remaining driving range, and miles per kiloWatthour.

Aptera 2e is considered a subcompact in some states and a motorcycle in California (and the Federal Government). This has allowed Aptera Motors to advance the design and production with fewer safety requirements due to the less stringent requirements for motorcycles.

Despite this Aptera Motors has crash tested the Aptera to the same standards as the National Safety Institute, has designed an ample and effective crumple zone in the front, and built in very robust side crash barrier in the doors. These crash bars are made of composite carbon fiber.

The Aptera body is 100% fiberglass and weighs about half as much as a similar steel body while being ten times stronger. In a recent demonstration two men easily picked up the entire (unequipped) body with little effort.

Aptera specifications

  • Seating for two adults
  • Three wheel vehicle (two in the front and one in the back)
  • Front engine, front wheel drive
  • 2e is all electric with a 10:1 transmission ratio 100 mile range
  • 2h series hybrid with a small gas engine driving a generator (currently in design)
  • length: 173 inch
  • wheelbase: 111 inch
  • width: 91 inch (at its widest)
  • curb weight: 1,500 pounds

Aptera Motors is also using recycled plastic for the floor mats and all dyes used in the fabrics are organic/mineral dyes.

This is the tenth in a series on future cars.

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