Meet Aptera, an ultra-aerodynamic solar electric car

There is something to disapprove of when reading some of the numbers presented by the manufacturer, but the philosophy behind this concept is excellent.

About ten years ago, the start-up Aptera set out to offer a vehicle with an original look and, above all, with very low fuel consumption. The venture did not go as planned, the company went bankrupt in 2011. But more is needed to discourage the three founders, who resumed service three years ago under the name Aptera Motors Corp. This project is, therefore, in the process of giving itself a new life: here is Aptera, new generation.

Overall, this contraption is quite similar to its predecessor, at least visually. We find this device with a very unique profile, arched like an airplane wing, with a design that usually gives pride of place to curves. Anyway, the setting is very intriguing and even ten years later it still looks very futuristic.

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But it’s not just an aesthetic effort; the main objective is to maximize the aerodynamic performance of the structure, in line with the initial philosophy of saving as much resources as possible. Here, the coefficient of drag (which describes the resistance of an object in a fluid and thus its general “aerodynamics”) is 0.13, or about halfway between an airplane wing (0.05) and a Tesla Model 3 (0.23).

The fact that it is a tricycle, with one less wheel than a traditional car, also limits friction and, by extension, energy loss. It also feels extremely light thanks to the massive use of composite materials. The designers claim a vehicle that is 65% lighter than other electric vehicles on the market.

© Aptera

They say, however, that this does not call into question the solidity of the structure; according to them, these very particular curves allow you to redistribute tensions very effectively and therefore protect passengers in a so-called ” stronger than steel “.

An exclusively solar car, truth ?

But the main difference between this machine and its predecessor is that it now feels 100% electric. The top of the cabin is covered with solar panels that can provide 700W continuously in ideal conditions, both in motion and at rest – at least, according to the designers…

Thanks to this source of energy and the design focused on aerodynamics, Aptera promises quite delirious autonomy; the company explains that the objective is to be able to guarantee all day trips without ever going to a charging station, or almost. ” Aptera is the first solar electric vehicle that could no no refill for most daily use proudly claims the brand at the top of the product page.

© Aptera

On this same page (here), there is also a simulator that tells us the number of annual recharges according to your geographic location and your usual route. It indicates that, traveling around 25 km a day (roughly the average home-work distance for the French, according to the 2019 Popular Mobility Survey), and based on average sunshine conditions in France or Belgium, the user must recharge their Aptera… 0 times a year. With 80 km a day, that number rises to “ 10.59 loads per year “.

It will be possible to choose between different batteries whose capacity goes from 25 kWh for the cheapest model, and up to 100 kWh for the luxury model. According to shift downthe brand expects this to represent between Maximum range of 400 and 1600 km !

We imagine that those numbers probably refer to the cheaper version, with its traction-type engine capable of delivering 100 kW of power. There is also another variant with all-wheel drive for a total power of 150 kW. That would hit 0-100 km/h in just over 3.5 seconds.

A laudable philosophy… but there’s reason to be skeptical

As long as you pay $100, you can pre-order the machine on the brand’s website. Its price varies between $25,900 and $52,100 depending on the engine, solar panel layout, capacity and options chosen. It is also possible to request a full refund for the vehicle as long as it has been used for less than 7 days or has traveled less than 1600 km.

Beware, however; due to the particular status of this vehicle, future European buyers will have to be very cautious in the regulatory aspect ; if the Aptera really catches your eye, it may be worth consulting a specialist to be absolutely sure that it will be possible to homologate and insure it.

© Aptera

Anyway, the project looks very interesting in terms of engineering. It is necessary I welcome the fact that a company wants to bet everything on energy efficiency, even if it means reinventing everything with a specially designed production car. And based on the numbers announced, the machine looks very promising.

But you still have to catch brand promises with tweezers, because some of them seem almost too good to be true – especially in the contribution of the famous solar panels. In any case, the first vehicles should be delivered by the end of the year. It will therefore be interesting to hear feedback from early customers; your opinions will likely determine whether this Aptera will usher in a major paradigm shift or remain in the conceptual curiosity stage.

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