Much like the little engine that could, Aptera is just as cute and just as bold, aiming to overcome all auto-industry hurdles regarding long-range anxiety, cost efficiency and the need to ditch gasoline and diesel as fuel.
Also like the famous engine, Aptera has a very steep mountain to climb, but optimism and very hard work will help it carry out the difficult mission.
Aptera Motors has been on the market since 2006, making headlines across various news cycles with its efforts to put out a hybrid or fully electric car that aimed for maximum efficiency and lower costs. It was eventually forced to shut down operations despite positive initial hype, but is now back in business.
Its new Aptera 3-wheeler is now solar-powered, and we discussed it in a separate piece here. It promises 40 miles a day free of any costs thanks to roof-mounted solar panels (Aptera Motors calls it the Never Charge technology), and that range can be extended through an additional battery pack that would be charged using regular in-home outlets.
Following that announcement, Aptera Motors started looking for investors. It’s still in talks with private investors, it tells us, but it’s also turned to crowdfunding as a means to raise more capital. The goal is ambitious, to say the least: margins of 35% selling 11,250 units per year by 2022. If all efforts are successful, Aptera will be on the roads sometime next year.
The campaign on WeFunder has been relatively successful, raising over $330,000 from interested parties. Aptera Motors is not just looking to put out a new, small, electric car out there, either; it’s gunning for the title of having the world’s most efficient electric vehicle.
And now we get to the juiciest bits. New details on the 3-wheeler promise a range of 1,000+ miles with the rechargeable battery pack on a single charge, which, by current industry standards, is unprecedented. Commuters can carry out their daily commute free of any charge by using the 40 miles a day on solar energy.
Aptera isn’t just very high performance, though (only on paper, for the time being). It’s also very light but still solid, safe in case of an impact, and aerodynamic. Despite its small – and cute – design, it’s also quite spacious as well: the makers claim you can fit more luggage into the trunk than you would in a Toyota Prius or even a Tesla Model 3 because it’s more spacious.
Weighing half the weight of these EVs and with a more aerodynamic design, Aptera looks like it was built with daily commuters in mind but would perform just as well on extended trips. And it would be relatively cheap, too: Aptera Motors says they’re eyeing a price between $34,000 and $59,000, and an initial target cost between $21,000 and $36,000.
Fitted with three in-wheel electric motors, the Aptera would produce a standard 3 second 0-60 mph, and a 4 second 0-60 mph in a performance edition, according to the makers. The plan is to release the base model with various battery options, but all vehicles, regardless of that, would “benefit from improvements in computational fluid dynamics, AI computer parts modeling, advanced materials, more efficient batteries and next-generation manufacturing.”
Built with only 10 key structural parts, which drives down the overall production cost, and with a composite passenger safety cell “stronger than that of any other vehicle on the road today,” Aptera will include Autopilot and the possibility to have parts and upgrades to the roof-mounted solar panels retrofitted according to the owner’s liking.
All this sounds too good to be true and we all know how that saying goes, “if it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably so.” As of the time of writing, there are no “ifs” and “buts” to the promises Aptera Motors makes for a very simple reason: there is no prototype of this solar-powered / electric vehicle. The goal is to make that happen with the funds secured from investors and then move into actual production phase.
One thing is clear, though. If Aptera Motors is serious about making the world’s most efficient electric vehicle, it will have to deliver on all the promises above.