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Aptera: Tweaking Electric Vehicle Design, Moving On Up

Aptera is doing some last-minute design tweaks to its space age-looking three-wheeled electric vehicle before the company starts production in the coming months. In a newsletter the Carlsbad, Calif.-based company sent out this morning, Aptera says it has been making refinements to the vehicle that will deliver “the most efficient and safest [version] yet.” The company says it will detail those soon, but sent out a photo of the latest design of the vehicle.

One interesting detail about the car, which the company’s new CEO Paul Wilbur revealed in a brief interview published in the newsletter, is that “there are very few wires inside the vehicle.” Instead the car’s electrical functions are controlled by 45 computer circuit boards — Wilbur says that the circuit boards are lighter than wiring and more reliable.

Aptera is putting the finishing touches on its alternative EV before moving into initial production this year and ramping up manufacturing in 2009. The scaling-up process involved moving, hiring and raising funds. Aptera is in the process of moving into a brand-new bigger headquarters, which will house its offices, R&D facilities and manufacturing. The company announced it had raised $24 million recently in a Series C round from, Idealab, Esenjay Investments, The Simons Family and The Beall Family Trust. The company also hired 21 new people between May and August.

11 Responses to “Aptera: Tweaking Electric Vehicle Design, Moving On Up”

  1. Ed, I would wear a helmet – and am an older female. That would not turn me off from the car. I also have a regular motorcycle. Helmets come in many designs, and some just sit atop your head. Full mask helmets are uncomfortable, but they are mostly used on bokes. Helmets in a car could be much less restrictive.

    My husband would happily get a motorcycle license if he had to in order to have this car.

    Give us more credit – ugly does not matter over savings.

    If you worry about conspiracies, fight them head on instead of spreading them. I put a down payment in last year and look forward to receiving a hybrind in 2011. It will take longer than the company projects -so in the mean time I am enjoying a BMW Z4 with unremarkable gas mileage. With the car companies getting bailed out and the India/China markets increasing the demand for gas – I do not see problems ahead for this car.

  2. Something jumps out of this thread: just how would the big automakers try to derail Aptera? I agree that buying them out at this point, especially with the Detroit types they’ve hired who might have an axe to grind with the suits back home, is not likely to happen. So how could they do it? Simple. They get the politicians they own to “dis-engineer” the thing. Anybody remember when the Fuller car got T-boned in an intersection, and the press had a big headline saying, “Fuller Car Turns Turtle”? Anybody remember how the E Jag was taking so much market share from Corvette that the boys by the river pressed for the law that banned covered headlights while, at the same time, developing the Vette’s flip-up lights, and thereby ugly-izing the Jag? You guys hit on it and maybe didn’t know you did. They’ll make Aperta drivers wear helmets. That would do it. Imagine how much that would turn off the potential buyer. That’s all it would take. And what’s Aptera to do then? Take their manufacturing to another state where they run the risk of more legislative abuse? And don’t think someone wouldn’t sabotage one of these cars to invent a juicy “Aptera Unsafe” headline, either. (I could easily bet someone employed by the Big Three is on the waiting list for one of these vehicles just for that purpose.) I hate to sound like a “there’s a conspiracy behind every bush” type, but in this case, I’m afraid history says it will happen again. I wish Aptera the best, but I fear they will be undone by the same politicians who have betrayed the Revolution so many of our ancestors have died for. Cheers.

  3. BH, I’m not an expert on the helmet thing (since I don’t ride motorcycles), but I think the deal is that helmet laws in different states differ as far as how they treat 3-wheeled ENCLOSED vehicles. Since this is not a common type of vehicle, it may not have a separate law in many states (i.e. all 3-wheeled motorized vehicles require helmets in many states, regardless of whether they are enclosed– but CA has made an exemption for enclosed vehicles). I THINK that’s the story, but if others know better, I’d love to know. (I’ve been following the Venture Vehicles 3-wheeled V1 at, and I’ve read a little on this issue in their forums. The V-1 will also initially be sold only in CA.)

    The 2010 Prius will initially be a non-plug-in. It will be unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show in January and should go on sale mid-2009. I would guess that fleet sales of the plug-in version will follow, and then they’ll consider “regular” sales when the lithium battery is ready.

  4. That is a bit dissapointing that the side view camera is gone. (I guess?)

    doc3osh, if you don’t have to wear a helmet in an Aptera in CA, which has a helmet law, why would you anywhere else?

    I don’t see the owners of Aptera selling. Plus, many big name automotive people have left their comfortable careers to take a chance on this company and I think they all plan on sticking around for awhile.

    I am going to need a 5 passenger Aptera that will hold a stroller, a couple of diaper bags, a dvd player, the dog, a couple sets of golf clubs, seven suitcases for my wife, a couple 10 inch subwoofers, some toys, a soccer ball…….

  5. I hate to be a conspiracy theorist but I won’t be surprised if this car never comes to market. My feeling is that the owners will raise awareness of this innovative vehicle, raise funds and then SELL the company to the highest bidder to make a fortune. Why do I say this? My gut is based on nothing more than the fact that we haven’t had a fleet of cars like this on the road for years. The oil companies have probably discussed how to stop this project. Would I like to own one? Yes!!

  6. doc3osh, the according to this source the new Prius is a plug in hybrid, although like you said, I don’t know what Toyota will do with it. It may very well be delayed as a plug-in for up to a few years.
    I do think that when the aptera becomes more popular, the price will come down, it may also be eligible for tax credits, etc. I think that i would rather get an Insight, than a Prius, for price it is better. just for the record, i am not a Prius hater, I am just in for the best deal.

  7. doc3osh

    They added side mirrors and a rear side window. The rear brakelight was always there.
    It’s too bad they added side mirrors– seems they also removed the blind-spot camera, which was a really interesting innovation; will it still have a 180-degree rear view? The side mirrors must be more of an airdrag as well.
    qwerty, your post doesn’t make too much sense… the new Prius is not a plug in, so it gets no miles “to the charge”. I think you meant that it runs ten miles all-electric before the gas engine kicks in.. which refers to the nickel-metal version of the Plug-in Prius, which may never even see mass production. (I’d bet they will release it when they have the Li-ion batteries ready.) The 2010 Prius does not need to be plugged in and will get about 12% better fuel economy than the current Prius, meaning probably 52mpg if you drive like most people drive. It will be a little faster than the current Prius, which is about the speed of the Aptera, and will carry 5 adults comfortably unlike the Aptera, and will cost 5K less than the Aptera. Most importantly, it has 4 wheels and therefore is classified as a car in all 50 states, unlike the Aptera, which may require you to where a helmet in many states since it’s classified as a motorcycle. That’s why they are only selling it in California for now.

    In short, the new Prius will have no problem competing with the Aptera for the next few years. I do hope Aptera takes off though… would love to take one for a test drive!

  8. Well, I am quite pleased with Aptera motors, they are the only car company that is making real progress. If we can be this miserly with fuel, i wouldn’t care if gas was $20 a gallon. But really, the new Prius gets under 10 miles the the charge, I ask, How is that real progress? They are making a change alright, I’ll give them that, but really, how will they compete, when Aptera hands us a four or five seater car with five or six times their fuel economy? this kind of car will pay itself off in no time, maybe even under a year.