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The price of gas and the fuel efficiency claims of the Aptera have been attracting some cable news station attention. Both CNN and MSNBC have released new clips of the flightless wonder doing its lightweight and aerodynamic energy-efficient thing.

The MSNBC report starts out with a focus on the Progressive X-Prize and gives a few free glimpses of Tesla Roadsters and other contest entrants. The spotlight is then placed squarely on the oval shoulders of the Aptera Typ-1 with great footage of it speeding along the highway. There's even some in-car coverage. The reporter makes the claim to standers-by that the car can achieve 300 miles per gallon and states one could travel from L.A. to New York on a 10 gallon tank. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, so we are hoping Aptera decides to give that particular feat a whirl. I offer my professional driving services at this time.

CNN spends a few moments talking with Aptera company principals Steve Fambro and Christopher Anthony, accompanied by various shots of the car whizzing by. They also spend some time showing off the Aptera's use of cameras to replace external side and rear view mirrors. While the CNN clip also makes the L.A. to New York claim, the mileage figure given is 230 mpg instead of 300. Google maps says that it is 2,778 miles between the two coastal cities putting the ability to accomplish the trek on 10 gallons in doubt. Do you think it could make it? Check out the clips after the jump and let us know what you think.





[Source: YouTube / MSNBC via Aptera Forum]


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  • 34 Comments
      • 6 Months Ago
      Anyone know what the cabin noise level will be. I couldn't find anything on that. the msnbc footage made the cabin noise seem really high. Be nice to have some numbers ot contrast to a prius etc
      • 6 Months Ago
      Hmmm payload a is relevant to calculating power consumption as well. I'm guessing they will balance the numbers around moving an additional 450 pounds or so, so two slightly overweight adults or so I would hope.
      My Go scooter says it gets about 15mph, and it might with my four year old on it, with me (225 6'1) it it's lucky if it gets 6mph. :p.
      • 6 Months Ago
      To address a few points:

      1) By Aptera's website, it's 60mph pure electric (infinite mpg) (calculating based on pack size and range, about 83Wh/mi at 55mph and 143Wh/mi at 80mph), then 130mpg in charge-sustaining mode.

      2) I'm a big Aptera proponent, and this is one of two issues that I fault them for: for not correcting media misconceptions about mileage figures soon enough. The other issue is the lack of any announced support yet for faster charging (they seem to be trying to jam the Typ-1e into being "local-only" transportation).

      3) That said, their website is quite clear on what its mileage is actually like, so part of the problem has to lie with the media here:

      http://www.aptera.com/details.php

      "So why pick a number at 120 miles? Well, it's more than double of most available plug-in hybrid ranges that achieve over 100 MPG. It's three times the distance of the typical American daily commute. It's a meaningful distance that represents the driving needs of 99% of Americans on a daily basis. Sure, it's asymptotic, after 350-400 miles it eventually plummets to around 130 MPG at highway speeds where it will stay all day until you plug it back in and charge it up."

      4) The wheel pods are no more at risk than those on a Prowler, and I've never heard of a Prowler getting "hooked". Putting a bit of a thin metal shell around the front (I.e., a more conventional car shape), while it may make them "look" safer, is actually doing little to *make* them safer. Strength comes from the frame, not the skin, both in an Aptera and in a conventional car. These are tubular steel struts, not tinker toys; they're no more likely to bend than any other frame element in an accident.

      For a good read on the difference between perceived safety and actual safety, here's a great read (mirror of a New Yorker article, "How the S.U.V. ran over automotive safety."):

      http://gladwell.com/2004/2004_01_12_a_suv.html

      5) The Aptera is about 7 feet wide -- about the same width as a Hummer (a foot narrower than a typical RV). It's a little longer than my Saturn and a couple inches taller, too (it's not a small car by any stretch). So, while you certainly wouldn't be fitting in a compact car space, and would have to be more careful pulling into a normal space (like an SUV driver has to), it'll still fit fine.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Yeah as I recall after the battery goes flat it gets about 135mpg. This is the one thing I really hate about 3rd tier PHEV makers. Ridiculous mileage claims.

      • 6 Months Ago
      Lol I'm not sure only as wide as a hummer is a good marketing angle and probable why there are not a lot of side by side shots or pictures of it parking :). something that big for 2 people is a bit hard to take but really is will live and die by the test drive IMO. I still want one though. My Hybrid SUV (highlander hybrid, the barely green suv) can pull into most compact spots better then my passat. BUt neither is 7 feet wide.
      • 6 Months Ago
      The '300 mpg' claim was quoted by the reporter who doesn't have a clue that this is not a claim for just any mileage you might drive. As stated by Aptera on their site the 300 mpg figure is obtained after the Type 1h (serial hybrid) has driven 120 miles. After 350-400 the mileage is down to 120 mpg and should stay around this figure in normal driving. 120 miles distance was chosen as the farthest commute distance anyone would likely travel. Since there is no agreed upon standard set yet for advertising a serial hybrid's MPG, this was Aptera's solution.

      Details here: http://www.aptera.com/details.php
      • 7 Years Ago
      An honest 120mpg is absolutely amazing. It's a lot more exciting than a misleading 300mpg that you can't even do for 1 gallon.

      I consider that (300mpg) claim a marketing lie. Companies that do this get off on the wrong foot right away IMO.

      I encourage Aptera to take the high road and end the misleading claims.
      • 6 Months Ago
      "The prowler wheels are protected in front by a bumper, behind them the body expands out to hold the wheels in line of the body."

      I just checked -- the one that I saw had no front bumper, like these:

      http://www.usmotors.cz/old/images/plymouth/prowler/p_prowler_bob_brown.jpg
      http://www.goldenageautoclub.com/2000%20plymouth%20prowler2.jpg
      www DOT gandlbodyshop DOT com/Userfiles/Prowler%20finished%202.jpg?17380

      .. but it must have been removed. In fact, the first google hit for prowler, front, and bumper contains the text, "front bumper removal" ;) I imagine that makes it no longer streetlegal, but apparently lots of prowler fans find the bumper ugly. Not that the front bumper is going to do anything for you at highway speeds.

      As for the rear being as wide as the front, that's only relevant if you're driving backwards; you don't see your rear end unless you're looking in the mirror, so in terms of your sense of where your vehicle is, that won't change anything. In terms of people passing you, in the case of the Aptera, there are running lights on the rear of the wheel pods. Anyone trying to pass you will get the same visual cross-section as were the rear end of the car wider.

      Sure, it's possible for an idiot who isn't paying attention to the space-ship-like car not to notice, but it's possible for people to mess up in all sorts of ways when driving.

      "He said he just doesn't believe a 3 wheel can be stable enough compared to a 4 wheeler any kind of accident or road hazard situation."

      I'd recommend this 1982 Road and Track article for him:

      http://blog.autospeed.com/2007/11/13/three-wheel-cars/

      As for other aspects of stability, the Aptera keeps its weight (batteries, motor, gearbox, etc) low for a low CG and has its wheels farther apart than a normal car.

      "Bold words for a manufacturer that has yet to do any real crash testing."

      They've done a lot more than GM with the Volt. They've simulated crashes on the same software BMW uses (but at higher speeds than are standard), and they've crushed physical cars in crush rigs (it scored better than a Civic, which has one of the best crush strengths on the road). Full crash testing begins this summer. Why don't I ever hear you complaining about the fact that the Volt isn't crash-tested yet?
      • 6 Months Ago
      "The wheel pods are no more at risk than those on a Prowler"

      Hardly. The Aptera wheels stick out further and the body itself is narrower.

      The prowler wheels are protected in front by a bumper, behind them the body expands out to hold the wheels in line of the body.

      In short totally different thing. The wheels are much more protected on a prowler and they stick out like a sore thumb on the Aptera.

      When backing up a prowler you just manage place the body like a regular car. In an Aptera, you have to constantly be aware/careful about those pods sticking out. I don't have an issue, but expect there will be a lot of wheels knocked out of alignment or worse because these pods are not within the body lines of the car.
      • 6 Months Ago
      I've been following the Aptera story for well over a year now, and there have certainly been several legitimate attempts by Aptera to explain the mileage numbers. As was said before, it's just not as easy to put in your headline the paragraph long description... go for eye catching instead...

      Anyway, I know that you couldn't drive it from coast to coast on one tank of gas (without a ridiculous number of charging stops), but I am betting that you could carry enough gas with you to do it; somewhere around 20-25 gallons extra, assuming a few hotel stops where you top off the charge system as well. That's only about 200 pounds extra (with storage), which certainly seems within the capabilities of the vehicle. Top off the tank every half day or so from the carried gas, and off you go! (I don't know about you, but I'd have to stop to use the bathroom a few times along the way anyway!) Sure, you could stop at a gas station instead, but the novelty of doing it this way would be something!

      In fact, if mine comes in on time, (and proves out ok), I may try just that to go visit the New York City kickoff to the x-prize contest. D'ya think Aptera would cover my gas? :)
      • 6 Months Ago
      Just a side clip, but I was talking to a friend of mine who is an engineer and his only comment was that he would not touch a wheel car with a 10 foot pole, but Aptera dose a good job talking up their safety angle.
      • 6 Months Ago
      1st video: "We think that traditional automobile safety standards are appalling... Our vehicle has been designed well beyond those safety standards." Bold words for a manufacturer that has yet to do any real crash testing.
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