• Oct 18, 2009
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 who 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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  • 30 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Another dream car for nerds paid with tax money.
      • 5 Years Ago
      But will people be ready to understand a 3-wheeled car beyond its peculiarity? It will be interesting, especially in such an era where innovation is necessary for survival, sales, and upkeep with the competition (all three being well intertwined). I am not sure if I would desire, let alone need, to acquire the ownership of a 3-wheeled vehicle. I sense that a fear of "tipping" would play into effect. Say there was a production of one from a major player in US sales, let's say Ford, as advertising for them has changed recently. So the Ford Trident (I am making this up with a derivative of 3) is new in town. What would Ford need to do to sell it? Well, they would need to advertise how safe and practical and economic it is. Now of course, not one advertisement would do, they would expand further upon that, but then what? They need to go beyond and push it into the shows we watch and further emphasis it. This is just like normal advertising, but it is also not. This isn't a new car, this is a new IDEA. More of an idea than the hybrid model of a car. This is redefining the normal perception of a car, with an even-numbered amount of tires and wheels. Most likely, this will start out with smaller companies that are privately-owned rather than a big publicly-traded corporation. It will probably work out better and climb up from there.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Great now the general public can purchase a three wheeled death trap that does not have to meet any real safety standard.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Aaron, you should check out Aptera's safety specs. They are actually pretty serious about safety and the design is built to channel energy around the driver. I was surprised when I read it. Maybe you will be too.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Mike,

        While I am sure they have good intentions simple logic will tell you that it is still not gone to be anywhere near as safe as a car. A lot of the mass of a car goes into it's safety structure and systems. If it had all the safety structure in a modern automobile it would end up as heavy as any other equivalently equipped 4 wheeled vehicle. They did not select a 3 wheeled architecture because it represents some amazing weight saving opportunity. They selected it specifically because it avoids a lot of the requirements placed on automobiles.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Yeah, there needs to be a lot less regulation. So how about cutting regulation, instead of throwing money away instead?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Down with regulation! Up with morality!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Jay Leno has a segment on his website where he drives the prototype of the Aptera. He seems to be genially impressed with the vehicle including how aerodynamic the vehicle is, including when he takes his foot off the accelerator and the air resistance doesn't immediately start slowing the vehicle down. Depending on price I'd consider one as commuter.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Maybe now VW will dust off that GX3 concept.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Does the Obama Administration really need to borrow even more money from the People's Republic of China just to waste it on this piece of crap?

      The Federal deficit is over 1.5 Trillion dollars this year. Our grandchildren are being placed into debt to pay for crap like this.
        • 5 Years Ago
        If there is a market for electric cars the private market will find venture capital for it.

        Isn't it obvious by now that hucksters are cobbling together these bizzare vaporware "cars" just to get the DOE money?

        This latest "Homermobile" is like something out of an episode of the Simpsons.

        You want to bang your head against a wall seeing the taxpayers money looted like this.
        • 5 Years Ago
        As of present there are going to be less than 5 countries producing electric vehicles (including the peoples republic of china). Do you really want america to miss out on that opportunity?
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is a bigger waste of tax-payers dollars than the loans given to Fisker and Tesla to build "environmentally friendly" vehicles. $50-$100k specialty niche vehicles won't help improve the environment and neither will this.

      CAFE should be abolished, the DOE should stop funding silly projects. If we want to imrove the environment and fight global climate change we simply need to raise the fed gas tax (bring it up to diesel tax levels, equal taxing), this would motivate people to drive less and buy fuel efficient vehicles.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Anthropomorphic Climate Change is a farce.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This just in! English speakers discover that the words "Loan" and "Grant", have different definitions! It has also been proven that an "investment" is not your average "expenditure". Details at 11!

      AngeloD- I realize this topic gives you a chance to wring your hands and blame everything you don't agree with on The Obama Administration, BUT the major sponsor of this bill is a Republican, and it has not YET been signed by Obama. That coupled with your eloquent assertion that an Aptera is a "piece of crap" does you no favors as a critical thinker. You have simply stated who and what you hate.

      These particular loans are supposed to foster AMERICAN research and development into future technology, and the capital to actually manufacture these advanced products on American soil with American labor.

      If you want to bash green vehicles and our president in a pseudo-political rant about foreign debt and the tax burden of our grandchildren, it might be better appreciated on an entirely different forum.

      Back to the actual topic... I noticed that along with Aptera, one of the companies lobbying for funding was Elio Motors, LLC. Their reverse trike claims to be gas powered, 5 star crash safety rated, surpass 70 mpg, and sell for less than $7,500. Their website http://www.eliomotors.com/ is one page with that info and a single photo of a rather awkward looking prototype. Does anyone know anything more? If the "Elio" could indeed offer those basic specs and price in an American made product, it's worth hearing what they have to say.

      So many seem to get hung up on the fact that these vehicles won't directly replace their current car or truck. But plenty of people who commute as much as possible on bicycles, motorcycles and scooters still hit weather or distance barriers that could be overcome with a light, economical ENCLOSED vehicle, and they do not expect it to replace a Hummer, Porsche, or Town and Country. Some might use it as their only engine powered and enclosed vehicle, while others might use it as the specialized green commuter in a fleet of vehicles that excel in their individual capabilities. If we are indeed capitalists, there IS an American company that could own this niche and lead in technology and profit. One can not live on bread (or Trucks or muscle cars) alone.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Can we also re-evaluate the laws regarding three wheeled vehicles? I understand that there needs to be special training for people riding motorcycles with sidecars, but according to the law (as I understand it... and I'm no lawyer), even the Aptera would require a three-wheeled motorcycle endorsement.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Licensing rules and restrictions are up to the individual states not the Fed Gov't.

        Take it up with your state legislature.
      • 5 Years Ago
      There is something about threewheelers that isn't right...
      • 5 Years Ago
      And on what basis do you make this claim?

      ""As of present there are going to be less than 5 countries producing electric vehicles (including the peoples republic of china).""

      Bunch of crap.
        • 5 Years Ago
        And on what basis do you make this claim?

        ""As of present there are going to be less than 5 countries producing electric vehicles (including the peoples republic of china).""

        Bunch of crap.


        If you are replying to me, I didn't make that claim, but it may actually be true! Are you saying China should own the market for efficient vehicles because America can't be bothered? Just what IS your point? I give you bonus points for using "crap" in a sentence YET again, but where the heck is your follow through? Others have advocated higher gas taxes, MORE regulations, or LESS regulations, but all of them had a point! Please man- either step up to the plate and make a point that makes sense (it might require data or long sentences). or just shame the azy haters. That presumes you bow out with honor. Others that AGREE with your premise, or disagree with me and have valid points, yet You just spew one line verbal barbs against critical thinkers and call it "conservative truth". You do such a disservice to traditional American capitalists AND truly patriotic optimists, and yet provide NO better alternative to the obvious.

        I have no argument with you personally

        I understand your need to vent anger, but please let car guys talk about cars IN EVERY ASPECT and leave politics for political forums.

        I assume AngeloD



        Again, we are talking about AMERICAN investment and technology in transportation. I hate to make you a whipping boy for those that agree with you, but tell me ONE realistic point you have made that supports your "conservatives hate technology" and "Americans are hopeless" point of view.

        When you can be a proud American who believes we can OWN every market, I'll respect you. But you represent NOTHING conservative or liberal in America, you simply say "NO" to any progress in The USA and have to come up with a convincing alternative to investing in American tech vs letting Chinese tech ruling and owning.

        Let autoblog readers and responders, conservative or liberal, add to an american debate about technology without your WEAK emotional BS. Return to when you can add to the debate with FACTS about transportation and technology without being purely political and combative.

        For you own sake, get back on topic or get off the porch- You shame every point of view by saying NOTHING and supporting NOTHING.


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