After having known a lot of hazards and acting like an Arlésienne, the Aptera solar electric car finally seems ready to hit the road.
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Begun in 2007, the Aptera solar car project finally seems close to completion. After the initial company’s bankruptcy in 2011, its rebirth in 2019, the marketing of this astonishing three-wheeled vehicle is launched.
The Aptera is unlike any conventional electric car. Its teardrop bodywork mixing carbon, kevlar and hemp, whose aerodynamic efficiency has been optimized down to the smallest detail, offers a Cx of 0.13. It incorporates 180 photovoltaic panels which cover an area of 3 m². Personally, we find the aesthetics of the Aptera rather successful. She has a spacecraft side that suits her very well and makes you forget the often unfinished style of solar vehicles.
In its most efficient configuration, the Aptera promises to offer more than 70 km of daily autonomy solely from solar energy. This is what allows the manufacturer to announce that his car will never need to be recharged in these conditions. Aptera Motors has put online a simulator that allows you to know how many recharges per year would be necessary depending on the region of the globe where you live and the daily distance you travel. For example, in the Paris region and on the basis of a daily journey of 45 km, it would take three annual recharges, according to the simulator.
Up to 1,600 km of autonomy
As for the initial promise of a maximum autonomy of up to 1,600 km, it is still relevant with the 100 kWh battery available in the high-end version which costs 44,900 dollars (around 37,000 euros at the current price). The Aptera is also available in versions offering 960, 640 and 400 km of autonomy at the respective prices of 34,600 (28,500 €), 29,800 (24,500 €) and 25,900 dollars (21,300 €).
Two engines are available to choose from: on the front wheels (100 kW) or in all-wheel drive (150 kW). In this last configuration, the 0 to 100 km / h is announced at 3.5 seconds, which promises a good acceleration. The maximum speed of the Aptera is given for 177 km / h. The company indicates that it intends to develop autonomous driving functions which will be introduced “in stages”.
Aptera Motors specifies that its solar car is approved for the European markets and the United States. Reservations are open with a deposit of 100 dollars, but the two versions Paradigm (640 km of autonomy) and Paradigm + (1,600 km of autonomy) are already announced out of stock. This does not necessarily say much about the success of this launch given that nothing is known about the initial volume of production. The first deliveries are expected in 2021.
Aptera, the electric car that promises 1,600 km of autonomy
Initial article by Marc Zaffagni, 08/30/2019
Ten years after a first prototype that had never succeeded, the creators of the Aptera, presented as the “most efficient electric car in the world”, are back with a very ambitious promise of autonomy.
Almost twelve years ago, Futura introduced you to the Aptera Typ-1, an astonishing electric car project whose goal was to seek maximum energy efficiency through extensive work on aerodynamics. The result is a “teardrop” design closer to an airplane than a car, two seats and three wheels for a range of around 200 kilometers. Supposed to be marketed in 2008 in its electric version, the Aptera never saw the light of day, the company finally going bankrupt in 2011.
But now the project is reborn from its ashes, supported by its initial founders who decided to try again the adventure under the name of Aptera Motors. In the meantime, opinions have changed greatly in favor of zero emission transport and technologies have advanced a lot. Thus, although it has retained the main lines of its design, the new Aptera is even more ambitious than its big sister. It wants to be the first electric car to offer up to 1,600 kilometers of range on one charge. Several battery configurations will be offered, between 40 and 100 kWh.
The Aptera will weigh only 800 kg
To achieve this level of fuel economy, the car must be as light as possible. The structure of the Aptera will be made of plastic composites impregnated with resin. The use of 3D printing for metal parts will create structures that are lighter than what would be achieved with conventional CNC machining. Result, with its 60 kWh battery, it weighs only 800 kg.
At the moment, Aptera does not yet have a working prototype. The company is working to raise funds to finalize the design, develop production engineering and build three prototypes that will be presented to the public next year. Cautious, the young shoot does not intend to accept pre-orders before having been able to guarantee a delivery date to each buyer. Hopefully the project has a happier fate than a decade ago.
In video: less than 1 liter per hundred kilometers for the Aptera
Article by Jean-Luc Goudet, 12/20/2007
This strange teardrop-shaped car offers little interior volume but consumes only 0.78 liters per hundred kilometers in city use.
Result of an industrial project of several years, the Typ-1, from the Californian manufacturer Aptera, will be marketed at the end of 2008 in an electric version (Typ-1 e) and the following year with a hybrid, electric and gasoline engine ( Typ-1 h). The manufacturer had studied a hybrid version with Diesel cycle, more efficient according to him, but the emissions of unburned hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides (NOx) would have exceeded the standards imposed by the State of California. With its hybrid powertrain, the Typ-1 h goes down to 0.784 liters per hundred kilometers (300 miles per gallon in imperial units).
This figure must however be taken with a distance because, with the hybrid engine, consumption depends on the route and more precisely on the proportion of the time during which the car runs on electricity only. If the vehicle accepts the charge of its battery from an external source – which is the case with the Typ 1-h – the calculation is even more difficult since, ultimately, you can drive without gasoline. When it draws only on its battery, the Typ-1 h thus has a range of approximately 80 kilometers (it is 200 kilometers for the Typ-1 e). Beyond that, gasoline will have to be burned … For a long trip, of more than 500 kilometers, consumption will stabilize, according to Aptera, around 1.8 liters per hundred kilometers. The value of 0.78 l / 100 km would correspond to journeys of the order of 200 kilometers, which covers the daily travel needs of 99% of the inhabitants of the United States according to Aptera.
Pioneer of a genre to come
To achieve such values, the manufacturer had to forget the canons of the traditional automobile. The search for maximum aerodynamics has led to a shape more reminiscent of an airplane than a car (moreover, Aptera, wingless, doesn’t mean “without wings”?). The Typ-1 has only three wheels and two front seats. The rear seat exists but we can only install a child, “under three years” specifies the manufacturer. We are therefore far from the family sedan to go on vacation. The car is reserved for daily trips. In the United States, the low capacity and its three wheels have an additional advantage: the Typ-1 can take, even with a single person on board, the traffic lanes reserved for carpooling, therefore vehicles carrying several people.
The futuristic Californian machine, sold for a little less than 30,000 dollars (or about 20,000 euros), will undoubtedly remain a beautiful object, confined to a marginal market, especially as the federal laws of this country are still little incentive to push to vehicles with low consumption. The United States Congress has just passed a bill requiring manufacturers, by 2020, to average fuel consumption for their entire range of cars, of 6.72 l / 100 km. Since 1975, the limit has been 8.6 l / 100 km. Such consumption remains high, especially since it is an average for the whole range, a manufacturer being able to offer a vehicle that consumes a lot if it also sells a fuel-efficient car.
In Europe, manufacturers are already achieving much lower consumption. The bill proposed by Brussels to fine manufacturers selling vehicles that are too greedy could reduce it further. The Typ-1 h above all bears witness to a well-started movement towards hybrid, half-thermal, half-electric engines. The success of the Toyota Prius, which is in version II, gave ideas to its competitors. Peugeot could well offer a 308 hybrid before the Prius III comes out and Renault is working on a Scenic motorized in this way. As for Honda, its president, Takeo Fukui, has just announced that hybrids will represent 10% of his company’s sales in 2010. The two year projects could therefore see these cars flourish on our roads …
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