Meet Aptera, an ultra-aerodynamic solar car

There is something to frown upon reading some of the manufacturer’s numbers, but the philosophy behind this concept is in any case excellent.

About ten years ago, the start-up Aptera set out to offer a vehicle with an original appearance and, above all, with extremely low fuel consumption. The adventure did not go as planned, as the company had gone bankrupt in 2011. But more is needed to deter the three founders, who resumed the service three years ago under the name Aptera Motors Corp. This project is therefore in the process of giving itself a new life: here is Aptera, new generation.

Overall, this device is quite similar to its predecessor, at least visually. We find this device with a very original profile, curved like an airplane wing, with a design that generally gives honor to curves. In any case, the set is very exciting, and even ten years later it still appears very futuristic.

Energy savings in the spotlight

But it is not just an aesthetic effort; The main objective is to maximize the aerodynamic performance of the structure in accordance with the original philosophy of saving as many resources as possible. Here, the drag coefficient (which describes the resistance of an object in a fluid, and therefore its overall “aerodynamics”) is 0.13, or about halfway between an airplane wing (0.05) and a Tesla Model 3 (0.23).

The fact that it is a tricycle, with one wheel smaller than a traditional car, also limits friction and, by extension, energy loss. It also seems extremely light thanks to the massive use of composite materials. The designers claim a vehicle that is 65% lighter than other electric vehicles on the market.

© Aptera

However, they say this does not call into question the soundness of the structure; according to them, these very special curves make it possible to redistribute the loads very effectively, and therefore to protect the passengers in a so-called ” stronger than steel “.

A purely solar car, really ?

But the biggest difference between this machine and its predecessor is that it now works 100% electrically. The upper part of the cabin is covered with solar panels which can provide 700W constantly under optimal conditions, both on the move and at a standstill – at least according to the designers…

Thanks to this energy source and the design centered on aerodynamics, the Aptera promises a rather delirious autonomy; the company explains that the goal is to be able to secure all daily journeys without ever visiting a charging station, or almost. ” Aptera is the first electric solar car that able to does not require no refill for most daily use proudly claims the brand at the top of the product page.

© Aptera

On the same page (here) there is also a simulator to tell us the number of annual recharges according to your geographical location and your usual route. It indicates that by traveling around 25 km per day (roughly the average home-work distance for French people according to the 2019 People’s Mobility Survey), and based on the average sunshine conditions in France or Belgium, the user should recharge their Aptera… 0 times a year. With 80 km per day, this number increases to ” 10.59 read per year “.

It will be possible to choose between different batteries, the capacity of which will vary from 25 kWh for the cheapest model, and up to 100 kWh for the luxury model. According to Shift downthe brand expects this to represent between 400 and 1600 km maximum range !

We imagine these figures probably relate to the cheapest version, with its traction motor capable of delivering 100kW of power. There is also another variant with three-wheel drive for a total output of 150 kW. This would achieve a 0-100 km/h in just over 3.5 seconds.

A laudable philosophy… but there is reason to be skeptical

Assuming you pay $100, it’s already possible to pre-order the machine on the brand’s website. Its price varies between $25,900 and $52,100 depending on the engine, the layout of the solar panels, the capacity and the options chosen. It is also possible to request a full refund of the vehicle provided you have used it for less than 7 days or driven less than 1600 km.

Be careful though; due to the special status of this vehicle, future European buyers will have to be very cautious about the legislative aspect ; if the Aptera really catches your eye, it may be worth consulting an expert to be absolutely sure that it will be possible to homologate and insure it.

© Aptera

In any case, the project seems very interesting from an engineering point of view. It is necessary welcomes the fact that a company will bet everything on energy efficiency, even if it means reinventing everything with a production car specially designed for this purpose. And based on the published figures, the machine appears very promising in any case.

But you still have to take brand promises with tweezers, because some of them seem almost too good to be true – especially on the contribution of the famous solar panels. In any case, the first vehicles should be delivered before the end of the year. It will therefore be interesting to listen to the feedback from the first customers; their opinions will likely determine whether this Aptera will initiate a major paradigm shift or remain at the stage of conceptual curiosity.

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