“Wingless Flight” in a Nearly Emission-less Car

John Davis

apterapicIt’s named for the Greek phrase for wingless flight and practically slips through air nearly as effortlessly as Lance Armstrong bicycling through France (half the drag of a Toyota Prius). The beauty you see on the left is the battery-powered Aptera 2E… a three-wheeled, two-seater due out this fall.

Mother Nature News’ Jim Motavalli road along with Aptera CEO Paul Wilbur as they took the green car out for a spin in New York City:

apteralogoWilbur didn’t let me drive the car—it was New York, I guess—but I rode shotgun for enough miles to form an opinion. Like most EVs, it was fairly quiet, though noisier than most, and the potholes and cobblestones set off some rattles. The car was comfortable and felt stable on its three wheels, but a few minutes behind the wheel would have allowed more of a diagnosis.

A transmission dial allows the choice of efficiency and sport modes, and a screen displays charging options: The Aptera is ready for the “smart grid,” with programmable late-night charging and the ability to sell battery power to the local utility.

Despite the undeniable strangeness—the Aptera could have been made for a 1960s science-fiction film featuring people of the future in jump suits—the company is serious about building a mainstream vehicle. “Tesla is the new Ferrari,” says Wilbur, gunning past a startled pretzel vendor. “We want to be the volume player in a radical new arena.”

The company is making three differently-powered models… the battery model, a gas-electric series hybrid and a conventional .7-liter gasoline car… all priced between $25,000 and $45,000. The one that runs on batteries is the one out this fall, while the other two models come out next year.

Aptera says the gas-powered model will get 100 mpg and cruise for a thousand miles. And the 2H, the hybrid, will trickle-charge the batteries on the way.

The Aptera plant in California can churn out 20,000 vehicles a year but expect just a few thousand in the first year. Company officials hope to make up to 100,000 annually.

Car Makers, Miscellaneous