Meet the Aptera, an ultra-aerodynamic solar electric car

There is something to frown upon reading some of the figures put forward by the manufacturer, but the philosophy behind this concept is in any case excellent.

About ten years ago, the start-up Aptera set out to offer a vehicle with an original look, and above all with extremely low fuel consumption. The adventure did not go as planned, the company having gone bankrupt in 2011. But it takes more 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 the Aptera, new generation.

Overall, this contraption is quite similar to its predecessor, at least visually. We find this device with a very original profile, arched like an airplane wing, with a design that generally gives pride of place to curves. The set is in any case very intriguing, and even ten years later, it still appears very futuristic.

Energy savings in the spotlight

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 many resources as possible. Here, the drag coefficient (which describes the resistance of an object in a fluid, and therefore its overall “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 wheel less than a traditional car, also limits friction and, by extension, energy loss. It also seems 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 make it possible to redistribute the stresses very effectively, and therefore to protect the passengers in a so-called ” stronger than steel “.

An exclusively solar car, really ?

But the main difference between this machine and its predecessor is that it now seems 100% electric. The upper part of the cabin is covered with solar panels which can provide 700W continuously in optimal conditions, both on the move and at a standstill – at least, according to the designers…

Thanks to this source of energy and the design centered on aerodynamics, Aptera promises a rather delirious autonomy; the firm explains that the objective is to be able to ensure all daily journeys without ever going to visit a charging station, or almost. ” Aptera is the first electric solar vehicle that may do not require no refill for most everyday use proudly claims the brand at the top of the product page.

© Aptera

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

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

We imagine that these figures probably relate to the least expensive version, with its traction type engine capable of delivering 100 kW of power. There is also another variant with three-wheel drive for a total power of 150 kW. This would achieve a 0-100 km/h in just over 3.5 seconds.

A laudable philosophy… but there is reason to be skeptical

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

Beware, however; because of the particular status of this vehicle, future European buyers will have to be very cautious on the regulatory aspect ; If the Aptera really catches your eye, it might be worth consulting an expert to be absolutely certain that it will be possible to homologate and insure it.

© Aptera

In any case, the project seems very interesting in terms of engineering. It’s necessary welcome the fact that a company wants to bet everything on energy efficiency, even if it means reinventing everything with a production car specially designed for this purpose. And on the basis of the figures announced, the machine appears in any case very promising.

But you still have to take brand promises with tweezers, because some of them seem almost too good to be true – especially on the contribution of the famous solar panels. Anyway, the first vehicles should be delivered by the end of the year. It will therefore be interesting to listen to the feedback from the first customers; their opinions will likely determine whether this Aptera will kick off a big paradigm shift or stay at the stage of conceptual curiosity.

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