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For those who haven't heard of it, the Aptera 2e is the first vehicle from Aptera Motors, a Carlsbad startup with funding from Idealab, Google, and other sources.  (Also for those who hadn't heard of it: it'll look great in your cave.)  The all-electric, three-wheeled 2e weighs in at around 1,500 pounds due to high-strength composite construction, has a small fraction as much aerodynamic drag as a Prius, goes 100-120 miles with a top speed of 85-90mph, and boasts normal car safety features, impressive crush test results, and crash testing (TBA).  With a price ranging from the mid $20s to the mid $40s (depending on options), Aptera is aiming to produce 10,000 a year in 2010 and 100,000 by 2015, including a subsequent four-wheel, four-seater code-named Palomar.

Now, they've announced what many have long been awaiting: a base production schedule.

As Aptera has neared production, the details have been coming in fast and furious.  Aptera officially announced what many had been suspecting for a long period of time -- the production version is front-wheel drive.  Founder Steve Fambro also stated in an interview that there will be an optional fast charger to charge it in 2-3 hours.

On Tuesday, those on the Aptera waiting list received a letter including some news:

Our most recent corporate commitment was that we would deliver the first production Typ-1, now known as the 2e, by the close of 2008. Despite our well-intentioned efforts, we were unable to complete that vehicle before the close of the year, so it's now slated for January 16. However, unlike prior plans, this vehicle will not be delivered to a retail customer. We will continue our builds but at a much slower rate starting with a small test fleet of the enhanced vehicles, then moving to our volume production launch on October 1, 2009.

To put the delay into perspective, Aptera's original production goal to deliver in late 2008 was set over a year ago, so a shortfall of a couple weeks isn't bad.  The wording is unclear as to whether all unit production will go toward the test fleet or whether unit production will commence for customers before mass production commences, but it is clear that the launch date for mass production will be this fall.  Aptera goes on to explain that the delay and the use of a test fleet before full production was due to changes brought about due to customer expectations of ease of use and the advice of automotive professionals in Aptera's ever-growing staff.

The other main piece of news is a "lock-in" proposal.  As they near production, "it has become equally important for Aptera to properly model our operations to meet demand".  As a consequence, they're giving depositors an option: keep your $500 reservation refundable, as it always was, or change it to be non-refundable (but still escrowed) and get a $250 discount when you make your purchase.  They note that they're moving toward production "in the face of this challenged economy", and having more firm committments will help them with forecasting demand -- a model that, they hope, "maybe Wall Street will see ... as a role model for offering these types of returns on investments".

Aptera concludes with their pledge:

"We will manufacture the most efficient vehicle on the road and continue to apply the input we receive from our consumer." As we fly in the face of this challenged economy and write a new page in transportation history, we simply can't afford to cut corners. We are going to do what it takes to get it right, and we cannot get there without your help and continued support. You have stood with us faithfully and we promise that our vehicles will be worth the wait.

We look forward to sharing our dream with you as Aptera introduces the world to the most energy efficient solution for personal mobility.

(Note: Crossposted to Gas2.org)

Originally posted to Rei on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 11:42 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  that is a sweet looking ride. (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, G2geek, victoria2dc, trivium, pvlb, MCinNH

    Add in Tesla Motors and it moves towards 200,000 per year?

    •  Perhaps (8+ / 0-)

      The Model S is only shooting for 20k per year by 2011, but Tesla is hoping for the model after the Model S to be in the 100k per year range.  We'll have to see how quickly and effectively they can reach that ambitious goal.   Th!nk is shooting for 10k in 2009 (although they have some big financial hurdles), with a pretty major scaleup after that, similar to Tesla and Aptera's goals. Meanwhile, GM's going for 10k Volts in 2010, and I think the 2011 target is 40k.  Chrysler and Mitsubishi have pretty ambitious targets, too, as does China's BYD.  On and on the list goes.  By 2015, I wouldn't be surprised to see an annual worldwide market of half a million to a million EVs/PHEVs.  That's just a couple percent of the world market, but it'd be more than enough to get prices way down and set the stage for mass adoption.

      •  Chrysler's plans include a PHEV minivan.... (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        antirove, KenBee, JeffW, Calamity Jean, MCinNH

        40 miles on batteries, and 50 mpg after that in hybrid mode.

        They were saying 2010, which realistically means 2012 - 2014.  Just about the time I'll be looking to replace my '96 Dodge Caravan (18 - 20 mpg city, 22 - 24 freeway at "normal" speeds, and 39.5 freeway at 50 - 55 mph) which by that time should have about 150,000 miles on it.  

        I need the carrying capacity for work (telephone systems installation & service).  The PHEV version of the Chrysler-branded Caravan will be a fantastic tradesman's vehicle.  

        This is an example of why we can't let the American auto industry die right now.  They are just about to start getting it right.  It would not surprise me if some of the "let 'em die" sentiment comes from Big Oil, terrified of electric Chevys and suchlike in Joe & Jane Q. Public's driveways from sea to shining sea.  

        •  There are other work vans available right now (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek, danmac, Losty

          I'll think of you and try to find them and let you know, expensive, but available...and I think the mileage thing will get better quickly too.
           I think the Chrysler concepts are fresher than the GM chosen path, the CEO is very down on BEV's, duh, but he's all in with the Volt, so...we'll see.
           Prius has closed it's assembly line in Tenn(?) for a few weeks, who's buying anything AND gas prices are still low, but that refinery just happens to close again (LA) so grease up again.

          Hi Alexis, Happy Birth Day, 1/1/09, good luck little one!All the best...

          by KenBee on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 01:24:43 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  i've looked around... (0+ / 0-)

            From time to time just for the heck of it, I look around and see what's available.  Here are a few that come to mind...

            Piaggio Porter, microvan, but not available or street legal in the USA.

            Zap Xebra, pickup truck version; nice but city only and limited range.

            Bajaj, made in India; city vehicle only and no doors which is a deal killer.  Lockable doors are an absolute must around here, and a body made of something solid (fabrics and open-tops are no-go also).  

            Some other Chinese or Indian made 3-wheeler, imported by a company back East: they wouldn't tell me if it was DMV legal in CA, or even if they had any other ones in CA.  

            Not easy to find stuff that will work here...  but thanks for keeping an eye open.  

      •  Sweet car... now I hope that the economic (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MCinNH

        crisis rebound will produce some jobs so people can buy them.  Ya' know?  

  •  this sounds great (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    victoria2dc, MCinNH

    A realistic production cycle which allows time to test it thoroughly.

    In a democracy, everyone is a politician. ~ Ehren Watada

    by Lefty Mama on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 11:57:43 PM PST

  •  Interesting looking vehicle. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    victoria2dc, MCinNH

    Can't wait to see them on the roads. Even though my personal preference is with four wheels (Wrightspeed X1), I wouldn't mind renting one (if that's possible) to try it out.

    •  their 3-wheel design is intrinsically stable. (5+ / 0-)

      The handling issues with 3-wheelers occur where you have a single rear wheel that is steered.   That configuration works great for forklift trucks and road sweepers, all of which operate at low speeds, but not for regular automobiles.

      The combination of steering on two front wheels and power to a single rear wheel is already known-good for automobiles at normal speeds.  Aptera has power to the two front wheels, which are also steered; and that combination will if anything be even better and more stable.  

      •  4 wheels would be even more stable.. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        letsgetreal, notrouble

        The reason for making a 3 wheel vehicle is to get around cumbersome regulations required for 4 wheel vehicles. I don't know whether the regulations are reasonable or not. I do know I would never buy a 3 wheel vehicle because there no reason for not having that 4th wheel, except to bypass rules for cars.

        •  There are actually many reasons for 3-wheelers (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Odysseus, G2geek, KenBee, eshafto, dot farmer

          A four wheel is only more stable than a properly-designed three wheeler when the three wheeler is being driven backwards.  Here's an excerpt of a 1982 Road and Track article on the subject.  Delta trikes offer numerous advantages -- lower turning radii, faster response time (lower moment of inertia), closer to the naturally optimal aerodynamic "teardrop" shape, reduced weight for many different reasons, reduced maintenance for the same, reduced purchase price for the same, and so on down the line.

          Aptera is actually voluntarily doing many of the automotive requirements, particularly when it comes to safety.  There's a YouTube video or two where they talk about their crush rig and the incredibly impressive results they've gotten (over double the NTSB requirements for roof and door crush, for example)

        •  ahh but getting around those regs is GOOD. (0+ / 0-)

          Many of those regs were put in place for only one reason: to protect the big automakers from upstart competition.  

          Many of those regs were put in place for another reason: to protect idiots with room-temperature IQs from taking themselves out of the gene pool.  (IMHO, that's also a good way to devolve the entire culture back to the caves, but that's another topic for another day.)

          The way I figure it, if a person wants to put themselves at risk, that's up to them.  It's all about consenting adults.  And their friends can say "I don't want to ride in that thing, it's dangerous."  As for their kid, if the choice is between the risk of getting squished in an accident, and the certainty of dying from climate change, then yeah the unregulated eco-mobile is the better bet.  

          What I really object to is room-temp-IQ idiots driving huge gas guzzlers, thereby putting others on the road at risk from getting run over by them.  

    •  It is interesting, and name aptera as well.. (0+ / 0-)

      without wings.    Cool..

  •  Two big questions: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    victoria2dc, chrome327, MCinNH
    1. How many miles can it go on a charge?
    1. Can you exchange a spent battery for a charged one and keep going or do you have to plug in and wait until the battery charges before you can go any farther?
    •  Mileage depends heavily on speed (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, KenBee, eshafto
      1. Here's an example for the Tesla Roadster to give you an idea.  You'll see that the Roadster, with it's EPA range of ~230 miles will go that far at 50-55 miles. However, it will only go 150 miles at 85mph, but will go a massive 410 miles at 20-25mph.  Gasoline cars max out at 50-60mph due to the inefficiencies of their drivetrains at lower speeds, but since EV drivetrains are efficient across a wide range, you basically peak out right before aerodynamic drag loads become relevant.  The best estimate I can give you for the Aptera based on publicly released info is 100-120 miles at 55-65mph.
      1. Aptera is not at this point offering battery swapping -- there'd be no point, as there are no swapping stations.  However, if they do become common, it seems likely they'd support retrofits; Aptera has already offered to allow retrofits for people who get the electric-only version and decide later they want the hybrid version.

      With the higher power onboard charger, you'd be able to do about equal parts driving and charging.  Now, if they were to at some point allow offboard rapid charging -- tens to hundreds of kilowatts, level three -- then that would (IMHO) be a better option.  But so far only Hawaii has a rapid charge network of that nature.

      It's a chicken and egg problem, between EVs and infrastructures, but I for one am glad that Aptera isn't letting that stop them.

  •  excellent car but still a part of transit system (8+ / 0-)

    Transit is a system. To encourage the use of the correct component of that system will need to be finessed at the federal - state and local level. Here's a possibility:
             

    High speed train, 50 to 3000 mi

           Local Train or large electric bus
           5 - 40 miles

         electric car, 5 - 120 miles

       electric bus, 2 to 10 miles

     biking, 2 - 5 miles

    walking, 1 - 2 miles

    Notice the miles over lap. Nevertheless, it would be less carbon emission if one biked or took the mini-electric bus 2 miles vs. the car.

    Choice is very important. As long as these modes of transportation are green and they interlink to form a complet mass transit system - people  will be more likely to take appropriate mode of transit.

    As mentioned above there will be a need for incentives and education. Overall carbon emission performance would contribute to carbon footprint which in turn could enable tax compensation.

    what we can do, we will do

    by lemarais17 on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 12:57:37 AM PST

  •  Can't wait to squeeze my turbo Hayabusa (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, Losty

    engine in there!
         Works pretty good in the Smart car, search for the youtube, heh.

     There's a good issue of Technology Review out with lots of good articles on the Grid, A123, Nissan's EV, Tesla, and several other items readers here will want to see.

     Also, while you are in the store, look for Green Car Magazine, Intersection, and in Racecar Engineering there is a good desription of a Citroen Rally car with a 115kw motor driven from the rear axle to help with peak acceleration and very slo movement w/o starting the 300hp racecar/rally car engine. It's switched on to help with and charge from deceleration. It's a pretty interesting concept, we'll see if they think it's working, I think the WRC rules are keeping power down by fracking with intake restrictions on the turbos and this is an unregulated boost available. Kinky!
     Actually there are more and more technology articles featuring EV's as we are going to be just as crazy about them as we are/were with our ICE engines.
     Green car mag has this about a Lead acid/super capacitor combo battery being put into production in the US.

    Hi Alexis, Happy Birth Day, 1/1/09, good luck little one!All the best...

    by KenBee on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 01:18:40 AM PST

  •  Too bad they're facing a bad economy & cheap gas (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, KenBee, eshafto

    both of which will reduce demand.

    One thing about the design.  While a good one, stable and all that, it targets attributes not really needed in a city car, yet has the capacity limits of a city car.  It's cargo space is small even for that application, most city driving doesn't get above 35 MPH or so meaning the drag reduction is less important, yet the aerodynamics make it longer than other small city cars - and small size is somewhat important in that niche.  There are a few SmartCars and even a Corbin Sparrow jellybean in my neighborhood, all the owners I've managed to talk to were as much interested in the compactness as in mileage or 'greenness'.

    The tripod design and up-swinging doors will attract some, but likely turn off more; their relatively small target for production means they'll likely not run out off people liking the design but I think the 4-wheeler will get wider acceptance.

    •  Well... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KenBee

      ...maybe they could update the Dymaxion as their next model!

      _Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight!_ Joe Lieberman=Momzer!

      by JeffW on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 07:27:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Cargo's not small (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KenBee, eshafto

      I've been having to point this out to people for a long time; the Aptera is not a tiny vehicle, just an unusual-shaped one.  It's like an enclosed flatbed pickup in the back.  The original stated figures for cargo room in the back were 16 cubic feet, which was already a good bit, but it's now public info that they enlarged it when they went to FWD.  That's a lot of room.

      Drag is always important for EVs.  Check out this graph.  A Tesla Roadster gets 410 miles range at 20-25mph, but only 335 miles at 35mph due to the increased aero drag.

      100-120 miles is a lot of range, and not only useful for "city" applications.  It's 25 miles from Iowa City, where I am, to Cedar Rapids and is a 40 minute commute between two places I regularly go.  That's a long time, and yet that's only a quarter to a fifth of the car's range.  

      Lastly, not every city is NYC or San Francisco.  Many cities aren't filled with tiny parking spaces and the like.  Mine isn't, that's for sure.

      •  Graph shows my point (0+ / 0-)

        below 40 MPH air drag isn't very significant.  Urban driving is mostly lower speed, surface streets or clogged up commute traffic.

        Towns in rural regions and cities with mostly recent development have wider streets and larger parking spots. Older cities tend to have narrower streets, as for parking - in front of my house you could park one conventional car, or two or three SmartCars or similar city cars.

        No one I've talked to that has an electric, hybrid, or high mileage ICE car got it with the intend to be driving 50+ miles a day.  I've seen a number of people not wanting to consider BEVs until the range gets above 300 or 400 miles between charges. The ~100 mile range is a good value as it covers almost all daily trips in the U.S., but for the people I talk with is either quite excessive or way too little. Those that it meets or exceeds the range requirements for don't do much driving above 35-40, and do face restricted parking at one end or the other of their typical trip.  

        Where did you find the info on the cargo space? I've looked over their @#$%^&*Z Web site on a number of occasions and couldn't find such data.  You'd think they'd have an easy to find diagram with such information in it - a wireframe or cut-away diagram.  Values I find elsewhere are all explicitly guesses or like this:
        Dimensions
        Passengers 2
        Doors 2
        Cargo 0 cu. ft.
        Wheelbase 0
        Weight 0
        which is obviously bogus.

        BTW - I was born in Cedar Rapids, and have friends in the area, I've an idea what it's like.  My commutes in all the places I've worked have been less than 15 miles, all between different cities for residence and work. Only in one case was the typical speed above 35 MPH, that case only held true as a 3 person carpool so we could use the HOV lanes.

        •  You don't think that (0+ / 0-)

          dropping from 410 miles range to 335 miles range is significant?  Well, I suppose that's your call on what "significant" means to you, but I'd call a 22% drop significant.

          "Where did you find the info on the cargo space?"

          Lots of places.  Here's an example for the original 15.9 size.  Here's for it getting bigger since then.  To get an idea of how this is not a small car, check out this picture of the Typ-1.

          "but for the people I talk with is either quite excessive or way too little."

          Personally, I'd describe an EV that has 150 miles of range plus being level-3 rapid charge capable as optimal.  That's two hours of driving (you should take breaks at least that often anyways) and then 5-20 minutes to recharge.  Even in an Aptera, which isn't fast charge capable (at least in this generation) and only has 100-120 miles at highway speeds, you could drive, say, Cleveland to New York City with about three charging stopover at RV parks in 15 hours.  Is that really so bad, esp. given that you can relax, eat meals, use a laptop, possibly enjoy a pool and so forth during the charging breaks?

          For people who say "yes", then the answer is "PHEV" or "towable range extender".  But I bet there are millions of people in the US who, like me, would say "no".

          "I was born in Cedar Rapids"

          Oh really?  I used to live in Marion.  I'm in IC now because I work at UI.  I used to commute back and forth, although now just travel between the two for appointments and the like.  I rack up most of my miles not in work commutes, but in the surrounding area -- going to take a telescope out to a secluded place, going camping, going to rallies or conventions, travelling to see friends in nearby cities, and so forth.  We also do one or two trips to Bloomington per year, a trip to western Indiana every year or two, and a trip to east Texas once every two years or so.

    •  The Smart car is awesome. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KenBee

      As a single guy, I have for years wanted a compact two-seater.  Why should I have to buy a vehicle that's 16-17 feet long?  The Smart ForTwo is 8.8 feet long.  Perfect.

      99% of my cargo needs are "a few bags of groceries".  If you need to move furniture, rent a truck!

      -7.75 -4.67

      "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

      There are no Christians in foxholes.

      by Odysseus on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 08:18:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nice to see someone taking EVs seriously (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    victoria2dc, Words In Action

    perhaps they will buy up what is left of the American auto industry someday.

    No, I am the junior senator from Illinois.

    by qi motuoche on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 03:11:40 AM PST

  •  Thanks ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    trivium, Words In Action

    And ... news on the plug-in model?  Still restricted to California?  And, well, sigh ... 100,000 / year remains a very niche car.

  •  Sounds okay, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    victoria2dc

    but the cynic in me says this schedule sounds a lot like other car projects over the years.

    The above photo is very sexy, but I also wonder how well the three-wheeler will be accepted by the public. And excellent crash numbers are going to be required to get the IIHS to sign off on this.

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