• Apr 14, 2010
2010 Aptera 2e - Click above for high-res image gallery

Aptera invited us down to the Palomar Airport in stunningly beautiful Carlsbad, CA to show off the latest iteration of their three-wheeled, high-mileage electric car, the 2010 2e. Before the fairly-close-to-production-ready car was driven into Hanger #11, CEO Paul Wilbur gave a state of the Aptera union address, explaining why the company has had its head down for the past several months. After all, a year ago you couldn't causally glance at a magazine or newspaper without seeing the white three-wheeler. But lately? Not so much.

According to Wilbur, this has been intentional. The first reason is due to funding. "2009 was difficult," Wilbur explained, especially for companies seeking start-up funding. The other reason is that Aptera has been, "Engineering." Meaning that they wanted to have a more finished, production-ready vehicle to show off to the media and customers. "We have to get it right the first time," Wilbur explained. Going further, he stressed the fact that Aptera doesn't want to go down in history as the next Yugo, DeLorean or Tucker. The questions then are, does Aptera have the necessary funding and is the car they showed off today actually production ready? Well... make the jump to find out.


Photos by Drew Phillips / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.

Aptera has lined up new business partners in what Wilbur referred to as the first round of funding, yet he asserts that the up-start is still not, "fully funded." However, they are not only competing in the Progressive Automotive X Prize (in fact the car in the pictures above is being crated up and shipped off to Detroit to compete for the X Prize while this is being typed) but have applied for $184 million in federal loans, enough money to fund Aptera for the next five years. Regardless of whether or not they get the loan, the plan is to go through two more rounds of fund raising. Once that happens the 2e is then eleven months from production. In other words, they wouldn't give us a firm date for production, but late 2011 isn't a bad guess.



Lots of government types were in attendance today, which prompted Wilbur to say things like, "Aptera can only compete thanks to federal loans." He also stressed the fact that Aptera just moved into a new 200,000 square foot headquarters in Oceanside, CA that will eventually produce 500 jobs. In addition, when their factory is up and running it will account for an additional 2,000 jobs, not to mention the 10,000 or so indirect jobs that the Aptera supply chain and dealer network (among other things) will create. The other politician worthy news is that 90% of Aptera's suppliers are American companies. Big names including Pratt & Miller, GE, Michelin and Continental were thrown around.

Of course Wilbur also stressed that the Aptera 2e will be the most fuel efficient vehicle in the world, achieving in excess of the electric equivalent of 200 miles per gallon (MPGe), produces half the emissions of a Prius (when you factor in the coal burned to produce the electricity that charges the battery) and has a running cost of $0.02 per mile. Wilbur also reminded us that the current CAFE standards would accommodate a 1908 Model T.




To introduce what Aptera is calling the 2010 2e they brought out head engineer Tom Reichenbach. That name might be familiar to you as Mr. Reichenbach worked on both the Ford GT and Ford EcoBoost. "If I want to get to heaven I have to do something socially responsible," explained the two-time SCCA National Champion. The Aptera, in his mind, balances out his other cars. According to Reichenbach, the 2010 2e went through a series of focus groups to achieve its, "Customer-level spec."

New for the 2010 are roll down windows, larger doors, a lower sill, an opening hood to check fuel levels, five-mph bumpers and a revised suspension. Even with all these production-friendly changes, the coefficient of drag is still freakishly low – less than 0.15. To put that in perspective, a Prius's Cd is 0.25 (though a streamlined Tatra T77 is 0.215, and that was in 1934). We poked our snout into the interior and not only did it look "real," it also looked nice, with an iDrive-type controller and a medium-sized navigation screen and four HVAC vents. The trunk is pretty large, capable of holding four medium-sized bags and two sets of golf clubs. While still technically classified as a motorcycle, the Aptera 2e will pass all of the more than 700 car safety standards required by the NHTSA. A motorcycle only has to pass 38.



We asked Reichenbach how much more aerodynamic the 2e's three-wheeling design is versus a four-wheeled vehicle. His answer came in two parts. One is that the 2e is Aptera's first car, which we took to mean that a four-wheeled Aptera might be in the offing. The second part is even better, "We will not compromise our efficiency for anything." Though looking over the 2e's specs, it looks as if drivers won't have to compromise much. The two-seater weighs just 1,800 pounds (with two-thirds of the weight sitting up front, just like an Altima or Accord coupe), yet is motivated by an electric motor churning out 110 horsepower (82 kilowatt) and 232 pound-feet of torque, and like other EVs, all the grunt is available the moment you depress the accelerator. We watched as the 2e zipped around the parking lot shooting some TV B-reel and were pretty disappointed that we're going to have to wait until mid-May to get a ride and drive. It's that impressive. As it stands, the Aptera 2e is still at least one year and millions of dollars away from production, but we're much less inclined to bet against them today than we were yesterday.




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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 34 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Lame that they sucked all the design out of the planned interior.

      http://inhabitat.com/files/apterainterior21.jpg

      I had such hopes. What could have been the ipod of electric cars now looks like a thousand other cars. Boo.
      Daarrling
      • 4 Years Ago
      I wonder what it looks like splattered on the front of an Escalade's bumper?
      • 4 Years Ago
      It would really be too bad if these guys couldn't stay afloat. The Aptera is a huge step forward in car design.
        • 4 Years Ago
        ...you mean a giant step back. It looks like it was designed by a student with poor packaging and design taste. Why spend your time designing this?
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'm still waiting for the variable displacement/electromagnetic pulse powered 400HP fox body that gets 90+ mpg to materialize. Pelmear pulled out of the X-prize, but it sounds like he's still at it... "HP2G is seeking startup funds to establish manufacturing operations to produce the engine. Pelmear said the DOE is guiding them through the process for two programs for possible funding, one for grants and another for low-interest loans."I'm 31 ,rich but still single.It's hard to get a girlfriend in my town ,most of them like my money more than like me.I just want to find my true love.so i uploaded my hot photos on seekrich .c o m under the name of hot561.u dont have to be a millionaire,but u can meet one there. ..if you girls see this comment,i hope you will check my photos out there.maybe you are the one who i'm looking for!!!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Disclaimer: I know someone who works for Aptera, so naturally I'm a bit biased.

        "Another vaporware firm looking to scam hundreds of millions$$ from Uncle Sam."

        This is demonstrably false. From Aptera's inception, DOE funding was not available to them because of the fact that they went with a 3 wheel layout. They had to lobby the government to get the rules changed so that they could get any funding at all. If all they were was some sort of shell company, they would have coughed up a design that would have netted them the most funding with the least effort. If all they wanted to do was get millions from the government, they went about it in the absolute worst way possible.

        "What does this two seater accomplish that the Ev1 didn't 10 years ago?"

        Cost. The EV1 cost GM $80,000 to $100,000 to build, meaning that they probably would have sold for somewhere in the range of $120k to $150k. The 2e also actually has more internal storage space than the EV1 did.

        "It's lighter--but only 100lb less than the original Insight. Why not just swap out the powertrains?"

        The insight is a combustion-engined car with some battery packs added on... this is a pure electric vehicle. Batteries are heavy.

        Aptera is also developing the 2h, which will be a series hybrid (like the volt). That car will be capable of 130mpg, and that is real MPG- if the batteries are completely empty and you put 5 gallons of gas in the car, you would be able to go 600+ mi.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Is it just me, or does this car look like a plane waiting for wings, a tail and a propeller?
        • 4 Years Ago
        It is a big step forward but it's just VERY idealistic.
        They've already revised the design multiple times :/
        • 4 Years Ago
        Everything has been designed around efficiency. It looks the way it does to get the absolute most out of the electric engine.

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

        We need more cars/car companies like this imo
        • 4 Years Ago
        I like performance cars as much as anyone, and I'm not particularly "green", but as an enthusiast you have to recognize passion is what its all about, and these guys must have it to come all this way.

        • 4 Years Ago
        What does this two seater accomplish that the Ev1 didn't 10 years ago?

        It's lighter--but only 100lb less than the original Insight. Why not just swap out the powertrains? With it's high rear, this design poses a hazard to anyone involved in a rear crash with this car.

        It's so long. Why? Is there absence of space in our nations freeways that we're in a hurry to fill them?

        Hybrid drivers already poses dubious driving skills, why compound the problem with poor sight lines?

        This thing creates more problem than it fixes, by definition, a poor solution.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I wonder how this car would handle a decent amount of snow on the ground, or an average dirt/gravel (country) road. Or even driving through a few inches of water... nothing extreme, just things a typical commuter car could do. If it can't do these things they are inching toward a toy car status. Not that is all bad (Lotus). Maybe the wheel covers are easily removable?
      • 4 Years Ago
      "The other politician worthy news is that 90% of Aptera's suppliers are American companies. Big names including Pratt & Miller, GE, Michelin and Continental were thrown around."

      Err, that makes it sound like you're saying that Michelin is an American company...
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yeah...Continental isn't American, either. Unless you're talking about the airline.
      • 4 Years Ago
      2011?

      2011?

      I placed a deposit on an Aptera a year ago... expecting to have it by now.

      And I have to wait 2 more years?

      More likely I'll buy the LEAF this year and trade it in on an Aptera in 2012 ;-)

      • 4 Years Ago
      To me two things come to mind with the Aptera:

      1. The importance of its construction. If memory serves, it is incredibly rigid. That tech alone must have intrinsic value.

      2. What if it had a small engine so it operated more like the Volt? It could have incredible range. I'm not sure I'd show up to Sturgis in it, but it could be a viable city car and weekend tourer.
      • 4 Years Ago
      1,800 pounds with 110 horsepower and 232 pound-feet of torque??

      That actually sounds like some really good power-to-weight ratio. Then factor in all that torque at 0 RPM and this thing should feel rather nimble.

      I hope this car doesn't become vaporware. Even if it doesn't break out of a low-volume niche, maybe lessons from this car can be applied to more conventional regular cars.

      Also with the price of gas headed north, interest for this car might heat up again come wintertime... expect $4+/gallon soon.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I am very disturbed by the profound changes the 2e has undergone since its first unveiling. I fear that Aptera has abrogated its founding principles by capitulating to what I think are petty concerns. What was once a beautiful design has been perverted by what appears to be concessions to North American obesity. I thought the raison d'être for the Aptera 2e was the realization of a vehicle with the most efficient drag coefficiant possible. That founding design philosophy has been seriously eroded by what I consider very unnecessary considerations. 'Roll down' windows are not necessary. Cavernous interior space is not necessary. I just adored the previous design. I swooned at its sleek aerodynamic profile, the total absence of angularity, the devotion to efficiency. I had vowed to be an Aptera customer. Now with this repugnant revision, I have completely lost interest in it. I would *never* buy this vehicle as it is now. Though unlikely, I hope that somehow the earlier vehicle will someday be realized for those who prize efficiency and daring, progressive design over fast-food drive-through access and accommodations for morbid girth.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Cool love it. Now get rid of the GM steering wheel - argggg!
      • 4 Years Ago
      I hope they succeed but alas I fear they won't they'll be a nich car and will slowly fade away. Part of me wishes that other EV makers like Fisker or Tesla would merge with these guys and hence have a greater chance of this car making a lasting impact.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I love the Aptera, even if I thinks its still not all the way live as a design. Give it 4 wheels, some clever and sexy creases in the surfacing and I think you have a future winner.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Actually ahead of 4 wheels Id like to see taller and narrower wheel pods up front - fitting tires more like whats on the Mindset E-motion car (175r-21s i think). They seem to squat and wide to do the design any justice.
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