Aptera’s Aerodynamic Optimization

Continuous Improvement — From Alpha to Gamma

We often encounter the question, “Why aren’t there more solar vehicles on the road?”

Well, the answer comes down to efficiency. For instance, if you put traditional solar cells on the roof of a standard, un-aerodynamic vehicle, the energy gleaned from the sun wouldn’t be able to justify the expense and complexity of the added solar power. In other words, the vehicle you’re trying to power must have a minimal amount of aerodynamic drag. This minimizes overall energy usage and makes solar power a viable alternative to grid electric or petroleum power.

Enter Aptera, the most efficient vehicle on the road. 

While the sun might be our superpower, efficiency is the cornerstone of everything we do at Aptera.

Aptera’s Aerodynamics

Making the Aptera as aerodynamic and lightweight as possible, ultimately allows us to use less energy to get from Point A to Point B. For example, by eliminating our 4th wheel, we reduce a touch point for friction and potential energy loss. Additionally, the vehicle body is made from ultra-lightweight composites. The composite body not only makes Aptera strong, but also 60% lighter than other electric vehicles. Aptera also has in-wheel motors that allow for higher torque performance and 30% more efficiency than a standard EV motor package.

From Alpha to Gamma —  further refinement

These innovations towards ultimate efficiency have culminated in our Gamma vehicles. As continuous improvement is core to our ethos, our vehicle design has undergone many refinements to consistently improve our aerodynamics with the help of the team at AirShaper. In this visualization, we illustrate the new ways we are optimizing our aerodynamics. 

Aptera features an ultra-aerodynamic teardrop-shaped central body allowing the air to flow around it to follow & copy that shape. This means airflow contacts the body at a certain angle around the front wheel area, as the air is being bent around the nose. Tweaking the shape of the front wheel covers to be in tune with the flow pattern around the main body has been a key area of drag reduction. You’ll clearly note how the front of the wheel covers is tapered inward and the rear is tapered outward, making the overall shape more aligned with the main body work.

At the rear wheel, the story is different. The wheel is positioned at the center line of the vehicle and optimizations were applied to the bodywork in front of the wheel. Guiding the air in such a way that it avoids hitting the exposed part of the tire, providing gains in terms of aerodynamic efficiency.

To optimize aerodynamics, it’s important to look at the entire vehicle, as different areas are connected. For example, the front of the vehicle pushes the air away, increasing the pressure and drag on the vehicle. But past the widest point of the vehicle, the air contracts again. If done properly, this contracting part of the airflow pushes the vehicle forward (like squeezing a wedge), compensating for some of the drag created at the front. This is called pressure recovery, and the smooth drop shape of the Aptera at both top and bottom pushes this concept to the max.

Finally, at the very end of the vehicle, the top and bottom surfaces meet. Well, almost, as you are still required to have some flat, rear-facing area for the license plate and lights for example. This area has been reduced to the minimum, further reducing the wake behind Aptera. In minimizing this area, our vehicles are literally dragging less air along, making it slide through the air with greater ease.

All of these ultra-aerodynamic updates mean that Aptera can achieve the greatest level of efficiency– refueling from the sun as it drives. With our dedication to continuous improvement, we are eager to find new ways to reinvent transportation.