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If you read our previous update regarding the Aptera, you already know that the company is now taking deposits on their futuristic three-wheeled machine. I was able to get in contact with Steve Fambro, the man behind the Aptera, and I'll share some design and technical details in this post. With production of the Aptera expected to start in October, there are still some details that must remain confidential. But, the good news is that you are likely to get more information here than you've gotten anywhere else up to this point. Steve believes that aerodynamics will start to shape our vehicles in the future much more than they do now. Many who see the Aptera believe it looks much like an airplane, and this is no coincidence -- it's because the shape has been honed by the wind. So, in a way, Steve believes that the introduction of the Aptera marks a jump into the future of automotive design in more ways than just the alternative powertrain.

For the details on this exciting alternative to your mainstream automotive market, click past the break!

Regarding the powertrain, expect to see a hybrid model sporting a diesel engine to go along with the electric motor. When considering the fuel mileage of this particular vehicle, consumers will need to change their assumptions on what a car is capable of. When the machine is first underway, all power will be provided by the batteries which received their charge from a standard home outlet. Therefore, for many, no gasoline will be used at all on an average day's drive. If your travel plans require a longer trip, that's OK too because the diesel engine will kick in to charge the batteries and give you the power you need to keep traveling.

Moving on to the design of the vehicle, both the interior and exterior were not just shaped for aerodynamics, although that was of paramount importance. The Aptera team brought on Jason Hill with eleven design ELEVEN, LLC, and Nathan Armstrong, an engineer, to work with Aptera's team of aerodynamicists and engineers. Together, their goal was to make the vehicle a good place to spend time in, not a "penalty box" that you felt forced to drive. Take a look at all of the pictures of the interior and exterior and let us know if you think they met their goal (Hint: they did).

Safety was going to take priority over all else in the design, according to Fambro. In order to achieve the level of safety that consumers expect and deserve, the Aptera features crumple zones of 45 inches, quite large for a vehicle this size. Also in use inside the vehicle is airbag-in-seatbelt technology. The doors and roof exceed all specifications required by law. In addition, all of the glass used in the vehicle is automotive-grade safety glass.

Getting into some of the more technical bits and pieces of the design, the solar panels on the roof are tied in with the on-board batteries, so when the vehicle is parked in the sun, you are slowly charging your car. Even better is the air-conditioning system, which is powered by the solar cells and keeps the vehicle a reasonable temperature even when nobody is inside. The suspension systems were all designed using computer assistance to make them strong enough while maintaining the light weight necessary for the vehicle. Those suspension systems are similar in design to those used by Formula 1 cars, featuring pushrod operated on-board coil-over shocks. This centralizes and reduces unsprung weight. The structure of the vehicle is mostly of composites, with selected components made from metals such as aluminum. The rear swingarm is single sided and is currently made from metal. Each of the three wheels are 14" and are regularly available off-the-shelf components, as are the tires. The motor is a three-phase AC unit, and it drives the rear wheel via a low-resistance belt. On-board video screens show the driver an eye-level 360 degree view of the world behind you, using lens-free cameras integrated into the rear of the vehicle.

From a design standpoint, the Aptera team seems to have all their bases covered. We hope that production starts up in October as planned and will be sure to keep you updated whenever any additional news is ready to be released. Until then, if any of our readers have any specific questions, feel free to leave them in the comments and, if possible, we'll get you the answers.

Here is a look at a potential storefront. Is this the place you'll purchase your next vehicle?



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  • 96 Comments
      • 4 Months Ago
      Snowjob...I mean snowdog, you should stop shilling for FlyTheRoad and Tesla and fess up. Come clean about your love for converta-cars and tilt-over trikes, we'll forgive you.

      Have you been to the Aptera R&D center? Have you looked at their data and driven their vehicles? The first generation or second gen? No? That's right...you haven't.

      Maybe next time you are at the Ford Test Track in Arizona you'll see them and can ask them all of your questions? You whine and wonder about its crosswind performance when an 18-wheeler passes it. When you are finally shown a video of just that, you then back-pedal faster than John Kerry at a VFW convention and say "...but..but...I meant going in the other direction, yeah,...you know..differential.. I think that's what I meant blah blah BLAH". How sad for you mon ami, no?

      Sounds like you're going to hound them every time a blogger gets a detail wrong, like Diesel vs Gasoline. I believe they (aptera) has stated the Diesel was only for the first prototype, not
      production. Why don't you ask instead of assuming they're misleading? Huh? (sound of crickets)
      That's beacuse you don't have good answer, do you? I'll tell you what, we'll give you a 'D-' on your hack-blogging, but you better visit the teacher after class so they can help you with your fact-finding skills.
      • 4 Months Ago
      "Regarding the power train, expect to see a hybrid model sporting a diesel engine to go along with the electric motor."

      If you go to the web page to register to own one, it says Gas engine, not Diesel.

      These guys are heavy on the hype, lacking on the details and they can't even keep their story straight on the details they do offer.

      To get an idea about what qualifies as successful information presentation, they really need to take a day and spend some time at:
      http://www.teslamotors.com/

      The Tesla guys present painstaking detail about battery pack designs, motor design, chassis elements, everything. Forthcoming way beyond expectations, nary a stone left unturned.

      From Aptera you get hype and obfuscation. 300MPG claims unbacked by any detail. Common sense sense (and number crunching) says this is a BS number including some unknown amount of plug in miles.

      This kind of hyperbole with inconsistent information presentation engenders distrust from me. I can't speak for others. But if these guys actually want to get to market, they better get their act together.
      • 4 Months Ago
      I watched all the vids/pics I could find. I don't remember seeing it parked next to another car.

      Also the transport in the same direction at a small speed differential. Try going down two lane opposing traffic roads with a transport coming in the opposite direction, that buffets my 2800lb car.
      • 4 Months Ago
      Clarification - the doors and roof exceed all specifications for cars, not motorcycles.

      JK
      • 7 Years Ago
      Mr. Fambro, a Mr. George Jetson just called...he wants his car back!
      • 7 Years Ago
      Suggestion for the Aptera website: Less Artsy, more Direct Info!
      • 4 Months Ago
      Aptera>LUVR. nice to point out the shill job snowdog is using.

      the carver sits way to low to the ground for safety, ditto the T roadster.

      the aerodynamics of the body means a truck coming or going is going to push a TON of air right over, under and around the APTERA without a wiggle. why is that so hard to accept? and to your cross-wind and the rear fin point. the "fin" of the rear wheel is actually a stability device (seen an airplane in the last century?) that again, helps the stability. to be sure without it THEN you might, and only just maybe have some stablility issues.

      you can choose to sit that low on the freeway, but me, i want to be up higher. that is the reason suzie starbucks likes her big SUV. seating position!

      W
      • 4 Months Ago
      I find the Venture folks more credible because they have played it straight and open:

      http://www.autobloggreen.com/2007/02/19/interview-with-ian-bruce-founder-of-venture-vehicles-part-one/

      That and the now have $6 Million in Venture Capital:
      http://www.wattgehtab.com/index.php/content/view/1686/24/

      Virtual bet on which is in business and selling cars in 2011?
      • 4 Months Ago
      Yes, goodcheer has it about right.

      It may seem that I am picking on Aptera, but they were the one I noticed recently and they are standing out from the pack in terms of abusing the truth. I follow all kinds of technology. One thing I hate is disingenuous marketing BS we have these days that stretches truth to the breaking point. I complain whenever I see it.

      GM may have done this too but I didn't notice and was giving them points for playing it straight on this. I am no GM fan but at least they are doing the correct thing now saying 40 Mile electric range + ICE 50MPG.

      The after market prius plug in groups are doing this as well, claiming 100MPG or more. If you search my history you will find me complaining about that as well.

      The odd thing is I am someone who would actually consider a vehicle like the Aptera. Most people won't. I think is in an already tenuous position with such a niche vehicle. They don't need to make it worse by alienating a slice of their potential market with inflated meaningless numbers.

      All three wheel vehicles are in a tenuous niche position. I mentioned I liked the Venture one. Mainly because it tilts and I think it would be a blast to drive. They are using a Carver as their test/prototype platform and they have licensed the technology from Carver. They will differ mainly in drivetrain/body. Seems low risk, but I still don't give them an overly high chance of being in business in 5 years.

      Anyway I have wasted too much time on this. It will be interesting to watch the Auto-Xprize unfold. I wish it was sooner.
      • 4 Months Ago
      So are we now on a different topic? Short answer to this new topic: it's very likely that NONE of these EV companies will make it. Even the Volt can be scraped.


      If we can focus back on the original rift; Aptera has just started making new rounds on the PR circuit. Initially, others like Phoenix MotorCar, Tesla, and even VentureONE were equally low on content when they started their PR blitz. Worse, Tesla simply had a countdown website that had nothing but BOLD CLAIMS on its front page. NO PROOF, NO DETAILS. It took WEEKS before we find out more about what's really under the hood of the Tesla.

      If the final answer is that you just dislike the car, then just admit it.



      My beef about all this is less about the absurd assertions that company "X" is good or bad. We all visit sites like this to find info on new alternative cars and technologies. So when a new start-up is trying to get some attention, the RIGHT attitude should be curiosity and an open-mind to take in new ideas. Instead, I find silly complaints about (translate-->) "oh, it's not a perfect EV for ME, so it must be crap!"

      • 4 Months Ago
      what is pulse and glide?

      WS
      • 4 Months Ago
      is the a/c good enough for the central texas summers? where will the repair facilities be? major city or cities in each state? any idea on the cost of insurance? what is the progress to date? any cars produced?
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