• Oct 16th 2009 at 5:05PM
  • 58
Aptera 2e final design rendering - Click above to enlarge

Following months of debate, Congress has approved a bill that will pave the way for three-wheeled vehicle manufacturers like Aptera to qualify for funding from the Department of Energy. Next step: President Obama's desk, and the Commander-in-Chief is reportedly expected to sign the bill into law in short order. Rep. Brian Bilbray, a Republican from California that co-sponsored the bill, says:
This is a huge win for scientific innovation and the environment. We need more innovation and less regulation when it comes to promoting new ways to save energy while saving money at the pump.
Indeed, three-wheeled vehicle platforms sometimes have the potential to use less energy to operate than their four-wheeled siblings, though some still question the inherent safety of such designs. Assuming the bill passes the President's desk, any manufacturer of enclosed three-wheeled vehicles that can carry at least two adults while returning at least 75 miles per gallon will be eligible for funding, though the DOE will still approve applications on a case-by-case basis.

[Source: Automotive News, sub. req'd]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Would suit me :).
      • 5 Years Ago
      "Rep. Brian Bilbray, a Republican from California that co-sponsored the bill, says:
      This is a huge win for scientific innovation and the environment. "

      WOW, a Republican who believes in science and the environment, this in itself is a seismic shift.
        • 5 Years Ago
        He believes in getting federal dollars into his district. Aptera is in Carlsbad, California and Brian Bilbray represents that area.

        All republicans love pork.

      • 5 Years Ago
      The key question here is why tax dollars need to flow into this development project.

      If I'm funding this development via my taxes, I want ownership of the resulting product.

      If the developer is willing to give up ownership, this is a strong signal that he thinks the resulting product is a turkey.
        • 5 Years Ago
        To expand on what Chris M said:

        The typical startup goes like this. The founders begin with a 100% equity stake. For Series A financing, they give up... let's say 33% equity with a company valuation of $3m (i.e., they take in $1m). So now they're 70% owners, but they can put that $1m into growing the business. If they succeed, the business may be worth, say, $10m. So they've gone from 100% stakeholders in a $3m business to 70% stakeholders in a $10m business -- i.e., they've more than doubled their money.

        Now let's say that they need to raise more money, so they launch a Series B round. Let's say they want to raise $2m more. So they have to give up an additional 20% ownership, so now they own 50% of the company. But they put that $2m into growing the company, and if they succeed, it becomes worth $30m. Now they have $15m in equity -- *way* better than the $3m worth they started with.

        Repeat as needed.

        The problem comes when you fail to get your expected growth from the fundraising round. So, in that latter case, if that $2m Series B for expanding operations doesn't really raise the company's value to $30m -- let's say it only raises the value to $12m. In that case, the owners lost out -- they started with a stake worth 70% of a $10m company ($7m) and ended up with a stake worth 50% of a $12m company ($6m). Whoops! Naturally, entrepreneurs try to avoid this situation at all costs.

        The ideal source of money for entrepreneurs is grants. Entrepreneurs *love* grants -- no dilution, no payback. Next best is unsecured, interest-free, forgiveable, non-convertable loans. This progresses through loans of increasingly harsh terms. Worst is giving up equity. However, almost every entrepreneur trying to build up a big business will have to go through this at some point.
        • 5 Years Ago
        They're loans. You don't give up ownership for loans; you have to pay them back.

        And, FYI, businesses *virtually always* give up ownership to raise money. That's part of doing business. Nobody is going to give you money for nothing (except, in some situations -- not this situation -- the state)
        • 5 Years Ago
        Or it could mean they see a potential profit for both parties if they share "ownership", vs. no profit for anyone if they can't get the financing for production. In this case, though, it is a loan to be paid back with interest, even if there is little or no profit.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm a happy man. All my life I've waited for the day when there would be a production vehicle that looked like those 1950's - '60's sci-fi flying cars. Now there is one. I can't wait to see one on the road. Wait! Look! Up in the air!...
      • 5 Years Ago
        • 5 Years Ago
        I've driven the Carvers (3-wheel deltas) extensively on the 5 and the 405 freeways in Southern California -- something I would never do if I felt the vehicles were in any way unsafe. The current platform has some limitations, but nothing that some additional engineering cannot overcome.

        To put it kindly, you simply don't know what you're talking about.

        Thanks for dropping by, though.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Sorry about that.

        Completely ridiculous.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Do "all current manufacturers" know how to build a FULLY ENCLOSED motorcycle that gets 75 miles to the gallon?

        And appearance does matter, I agree. I think the Aptera looks good enough and distinct enough to convert many people into EV drivers.

        As for the dangers of 3-wheel off-road vehicles, weren't those of the "delta" configuration (two rear wheels and one front wheel)? "Tadpole" configuration trikes (2 front wheels) have completely different handling. I know, I have human-powered trikes of both configurations.
        • 5 Years Ago
        What would be "completely ridiculous" is if it looked like that but still got lousy fuel economy, or was too small and cramped to be comfortable, or if pieces kept falling off. Since that isn't the case, it's not.

        Appearance is minor, performance is what counts. I'd put up with an odd appearance if it came with substantial advantages, and when it comes to efficiency Aptera does have a substantial advantage.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Porsche owns VW"

        I think you've got that statement flipped :-)
        • 5 Years Ago
        I think the amount of misinformation regarding three wheelers here is appalling, the first guy seems to think it doesnt have suspension? durrr, and another seems to think losing a wheel somehow magically makes them unsafe? try telling that to the guys who raced Morgans in the 20's or T- rex owners today, the real reason the big manufacturers dont produce their three wheel prototypes (VW and Peugeout) is because they dont want to destroy the highly lucrative 4 wheel sports car market, the VW prototype was going to cost $15,000 and out perform a porsche, not good for porsche! (porsche owns VW)
        • 5 Years Ago
        All the current manufacturers also know that you can make a motorcycle more efficient than a car. And appearance doesn't matter? Ask Honda how either of the Insights have worked out so far. Their appearance, while not nearly as ugly as this, held both of them back.

        Why have safety standards and then pay companies to make vehicles that clearly won't meet them? If we want to emphasize fuel efficiency over safety, fine, change the regs so all car companies can make deathtraps and let the market sort it out. Paying one company to make a nightmare while others have to toe the line isn't right.

        You can't even sell a 3-wheel off-road vehicle in the US anymore due to safety (it's legal I think but impossible from a liability standpoint), and now we're going to have 3 wheel cars instead?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ah, the old "three wheelers are inherently dangerous" myth rears its ugly head again. Which means that it's time to cite Road and Track's study again:


        • 5 Years Ago
        You seem to be under the impression that everyone thinks the same way, and therefore require no explanation to understand your one-word comment. That is not the case.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I totally agree with Ian Bruce,,,,,,,,,, the world of BIG cars is shrinking,,, the world of DIFFERENT shaped vehicles is expanding,,,,,,, get used to it Mr and Mrs Dinosaur
      • 5 Years Ago
      Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

      For me, as a pilot, the Aptera is beautiful futuristic sculpture of advanced engineering combining aerodynamics, safety and fuel efficiency. It is how I see the future of transportation.

      I can't wait to get mine.

      • 5 Years Ago
      Erm, that should read, "For Series A financing, they give up... let's say 30% equity with a company valuation of $3.3m (i.e., they take in $1m). So now they're 70% owners, but they can put that $1m into growing the business."
      • 5 Years Ago
      KK said: 'Do "all current manufacturers" know how to build a FULLY ENCLOSED motorcycle that gets 75 miles to the gallon?'

      Maybe not all, but it certainly ain't rocket science.
      These people have been doing it for 25 years in Europe:
      And Craig Vetter in the USA has recently been leading by example and encouraging Americans to return to real-world, road-going fuel economy in the way that entrants to his contests did in the early 80s. (The winner got nearly 500mpg over 20 years ago!)
      PNB in London, UK (Quasar, Ecomobile and MonoTracer rider)
      • 5 Years Ago
      God the Aptera is a hideous monstrosity!! I wouldn't be seen in one of those if they paid me. Aptera needs to go back to planet Orbitron where it came from.
        • 5 Years Ago
        3n1gma, have you ever posted a constructive comment on this forum? It seems like every single comment from you is a superficial insult on a car's appearance or perceived quality.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is good news for Aptera; I hope that it helps them deliver the first 2es by year's end, as promised.

      I also hope that, besides requiring room for "at least two adults while returning at least 75 miles per gallon," the DOE will also mandate that such vehicles meet the same crash test standards as four-wheeled vehicles. That is one piece of the puzzle that Aptera has yet to make public.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Aptera says they will meet the same safety standards as 4-wheel vehicles, voluntarily. This is very difficult to believe.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Thank god they got some sense. These things will be perfect for summer cars, and work in most other seasons in most places too. I really think i will buy on when i get the money for it.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Oh, Its FWD? Sign me up!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Why just summer? FWD, low CG, wide stance, short braking distance, short cornering radius, low inertia, weight near the drive wheels, etc. The only negative, in my view, is that the rear wheel will track down the center of the lane, where you're less likely to have wheel ruts. But then again, that rear wheel doesn't do much more than prop up the rear end.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yep -- they switched to FWD in spring of '08. The Mk0 and Mk1 were RWD, but it's been FWD since then.

        • 5 Years Ago
        "... but why do you keep talking about the 'cornering radius' of the Aptera"

        You don't think the ability to maneuver in tight spaces is important?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Meme: I know you are a big booster of the Aptera, and are very well versed in a great variety of interesting subjects... (so in other words, I know you're smart and all)

        ... but why do you keep talking about the 'cornering radius' of the Aptera, as though it means anything even vaguely significant about the performance, handling, or safety of the vehicle?

        All that means is that it has a relatively short wheel-base, and that the front wheels can turn relatively far.
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