December 29, 2008 The already unmistakable Aptera 2e three-wheeler is continuing to evolve as it approaches its promised 2009 release with the latest development being the introduction of front-wheel drive to replace the original belt-driven rear wheel set-up. Front-wheel drive will now be used in all production vehicles with the company citing improved traction, stability and greater efficiency at high-speed as the key reasons for making the switch.

The change to front-wheel drive will also give the Aptera-2e (which was previously known as the Typ-1 before a branding change back in November) increased durability, better noise insulation and more room for cargo over the previous configuration.

"The initial emphasis at Aptera was on space efficiency, but our list of objectives continues to expand," says chief engineer Tom Reichenbach. "You can ask wheels to do more with front-wheel drive, including better braking, steering and power application to the wheels. We've essentially maintained the same styling while making improvements to the vehicle, which is all part of the process of providing maximum efficiency."

Another recent change to the design of the all-electric two-seater is the revised 'All-Vision' System which adds two conventional, aerodynamic side-view mirrors and merges the three body-mounted cameras into a single, roof-mounted "fin" style camera linked to a single in-cockpit screen.

With a focus on safety as well as efficiency, the 2e will reach the market with standard features such as driver and passenger airbags, an energy absorbing and impact deflecting passenger Safety Cell, LED lighting inside and out, a RFID Key Fob, plus Solar Assisted Climate Control powered by a roof mounted panel. GPS navigation and a CD/MP3/DVD player will be optional.

The company is taking refundable $500 deposits for the all-electric 2e which is slated for release in 2009 and hopes to have 100,000 Apteras on the road by 2015.

The all-electric model will deliver 100 miles per charge (which takes 8 hours via a standard 110v outlet) and a second plug-in hybrid version (now known as the Aptera-2h) promises an incredible 300 mpg when it's released in 2010.

See our previous coverage or visit the company's revamped website for further info.

Noel McKeegan

View gallery - 4 images