Automotive

Aptera opens orders on 1,000-mile solar EV that never needs charging

Aptera opens orders on 1,000-m...
Aptera's "never charge" solar EV gives you up to 45 miles of range a day without plugging in, and can be fitted with batteries allowing up to 1,000 miles between plug-ins on long trips
Aptera's "never charge" solar EV gives you up to 45 miles of range a day without plugging in, and can be fitted with batteries allowing up to 1,000 miles between plug-ins on long trips
View 14 Images
Aptera's "never charge" solar EV gives you up to 45 miles of range a day without plugging in, and can be fitted with batteries allowing up to 1,000 miles between plug-ins on long trips
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Aptera's "never charge" solar EV gives you up to 45 miles of range a day without plugging in, and can be fitted with batteries allowing up to 1,000 miles between plug-ins on long trips
The interior: spartan but fashionable
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The interior: spartan but fashionable
180 solar panels on nearly every horizontal surface combine for nearly 3 square meters of photovoltaic energy capture
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180 solar panels on nearly every horizontal surface combine for nearly 3 square meters of photovoltaic energy capture
The doors: go up
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The doors: go up
Luggage in the back, people in the front, and all the doors go upward
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Luggage in the back, people in the front, and all the doors go upward
Teardrop tail for extreme efficiency
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Teardrop tail for extreme efficiency
An extraordinary drag coefficient of 0.13
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An extraordinary drag coefficient of 0.13
Sure looks sunny in that cabin
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Sure looks sunny in that cabin
Aptera has furnished photos of its production prototype on the road... But only at night
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Aptera has furnished photos of its production prototype on the road... But only at night
The most efficient vehicle on the road
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The most efficient vehicle on the road
The Aptera prototype hits the streets... At night. When there's no sun. We suspect this prototype doesn't have the solar panels on it
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The Aptera prototype hits the streets... At night. When there's no sun. We suspect this prototype doesn't have the solar panels on it
A simple cabin with airbags and an F1-inspired safety cell
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A simple cabin with airbags and an F1-inspired safety cell
A back end like nothing else on the road
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A back end like nothing else on the road
Its manufacturers claim that its 180 small solar panels, making up an area of more than three square meters (32.3 sq ft), will generate enough energy that many drivers will never have to charge it
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Its manufacturers claim that its 180 small solar panels, making up an area of more than three square meters (32.3 sq ft), will generate enough energy that many drivers will never have to charge it
View gallery - 14 images

Since electric vehicles first started hitting the mainstream, people have been asking "why doesn't that have a solar panel roof?" The answer has always been the same: solar panels just don't generate that much power. That's not a huge problem for solar racers, with their ultra-light weight and super-aerodynamic shapes, but for the minuscule daily range a solar roof would give you on your typical daily driver, you're still gonna need to plug it in.

Ah, but what if your daily driver was the closest thing on the road to a solar racer? An EV truly designed with ludicrous levels of efficiency as the primary goal? Something so aerodynamically slippery that it makes a mockery of the production car world? Well, that's the Aptera. And its manufacturers claim that its 180 small solar panels, making up an area of more than three square meters (32.3 sq ft), will harvest enough energy that many drivers will never have to charge it.

The top-spec Aptera can self-generate as much as 45 miles (72 km) of range per day in ideal conditions, which is more than twice the average daily mileage of American car owners. And that doesn't have to be a terribly large amount of energy, thanks to its extreme frugality.

With a vaguely aeronautical-looking two-seat cabin, the Aptera has an "unheard-of" drag coefficient of just 0.13. Compare that to, say, the "incredibly low" 0.24 drag coefficient of the Volkswagen ID Space Vizzion concept; it's miles ahead. It's also entirely built in carbon/kevlar/flax composites in a sandwich core construction, making it very lightweight as well as super-strong.

180 solar panels on nearly every horizontal surface combine for nearly 3 square meters of photovoltaic energy capture
180 solar panels on nearly every horizontal surface combine for nearly 3 square meters of photovoltaic energy capture

As to the powertrain, multiple options are available, with liquid-cooled electric motors either in the front two wheels, or in all three. Power outputs around 50 kW (67 hp) per motor were planned last time we checked in with these guys, but the company's staying mum on final specs for the moment. In terms of performance though, they'll get off the line quickly, handling 0-60 mph (0-96 km/h) in a supercar-like 3.5 seconds in certain configurations. Top speed is limited at a pretty sporty 110 mph (177 km/h).

And you won't have to rely on the Sun to get around, battery sizes will also vary, and Aptera says you'll be able to buy one with a 250-, 400-, or 600-mile (400-, 644-, or 965-km) range. Or you can go with the big daddy: a 1,000-mile (1,600 km) battery, likely delivered by a 100-kWh pack. To give you a sense of how efficient this three-wheeler is, Tesla's model S P100D had a radical increase in efficiency this year and can now get 402 miles out of the same size battery.

The Aptera prototype hits the streets... At night. When there's no sun. We suspect this prototype doesn't have the solar panels on it
The Aptera prototype hits the streets... At night. When there's no sun. We suspect this prototype doesn't have the solar panels on it

To be fair, Tesla's actually got its cars on the road, and Aptera has only made it to the production prototype stage thus far, from the looks of things. But it's ready to accept reservations now for special edition "Paradigm" and "Paradigm+" cars to be produced in 2021. A refundable US$100 deposit gets you a build slot, and the final price will start between US$25,900 and US$46,900, depending on your options.

We can see people splashing out for these; it's not every day you have a chance to get yourself the first electric vehicle you'll (almost) never need to plug in. And there's no cleaner way of topping up an EV than with its own rooftop solar.

Source: Aptera

View gallery - 14 images
33 comments
33 comments
DavidB
I think it was about fifteen years ago that I made a small “refundable deposit” on an Aptera, only to watch them dissolve the company a few years later without ever having gone to production.

I wonder whether that deposit will turn out to have been holding me a place in line, all this time, for this new piece of “promiseware.”
UncleRemus
This is a B.S. product. Can't the author see that? Quit giving phony mock-up companies a forum!
This product defies the laws of physics and latest solar panel technology outputs. DO THE MATH. Plus, how well does it work on cloudy days? Don't beleave it until you see it. This really is a disservice to the readers, c',mon do some real journalism and CHECK THE NUMBERS (which they wont give you because it they are making it all up)
Spud Murphy
Would be great if they could actually make them happen this time around, but given the previous history, I wonder how many people will risk even a small deposit with them.
PAV
Isn't this the same flying car, just without the wings?
Rakkasan
Except if you live in Seattle and I wouldn't want to be in an accident, The next Tesla will cost 25k and offers waaaaaaay more. First good looking solar panel integration.
East Coast
Crash test data would be helpful before plunking down money on that thing. A side impact might have motorcycle survival stats.
Rusty Harris
Bump into a bicycle with that thing, and the bike won't be damaged but THAT thing will be destroyed ;)
Eric
We drive 85 to 135 miles to visit family or doctors & think this tricycle would do for us. We stay over night most trips, so charging before driving home would not be an issue. A 1500 watt in board charger would do. A 300 mile range battery would get home sans plug in. Our normal overcast weather might make a non solar version most economical. Not needing a fast charger where none exist, is good.
CAVUMark
Deja Vu, all over again. Best of luck to you.
mediabeing
I dig unique vehicles...but all 3 wheelers are condemned to be 'Hole finders'. What potholes you miss with left or right front wheel, you catch with the middle one in the back.
As cool as the vehicle is, I wouldn't buy one for personal use.