By Evan Ackerman
When I posted about the Aptera back in September, it seemed like one of those too good to be true concepts, offering an incredible 300 mpg for under $30k in a little electric car that looks like a fish. In fact, it was not clear whether a drivable prototype even existed… But it does now, and Popular Mechanics got to take an exclusive test drive of the Aptera Typ-1 e. The most important part of the test drive, I think, is simply proof that the Aptera does in fact exist and works as advertised. I’m not sure about the “better than driving a Lamborghini” part, but it does look slick, with a respectable 10s 0-60 time and a 95pmh top speed. I was also interested to see how much emphasis was placed on the safety of the vehicle, since it does look about as sturdy as a soft-boiled quail egg. In general, the whole thing seems quite well thought out, like how the solar-powered climate control system exhausts out the back of the car, filling in the wake and further reducing turbulence… It’s the little things like that which always give me faith in the potential of small companies trying to use innovation to break into traditionally monopolized markets. Plus, according to Popular Mechanics, “A more conventional third model, called “Project X” or perhaps Typ-2, is now in the design phase, with plans for a four-wheeled chassis and seating up for to five passengers.” A few more specs on the Type 1 were in the article, including the total vehicle weight (1480 lbs), recharge time (4-6 hours from a standard 110v outlet), the drag coefficient (0.11, which is less drag than you get “sticking your hand out the window of an average car driving 55 mph”), and trunk size (15.9 cubic feet).
And finally, here’s what you really want to know:
For now, Aptera’s plan is to first sell cars only in California, with distributors in San Diego, Los Angeles and Menlo Park. But they’ll also have a fleet of Dodge Sprinter biodiesel service trucks to maintain customer cars and provide quick-charge service. [Aptera CEO Steve] Fambro says Aptera only needs to sell 300 vehicles to make the company profitable. So far the company has over 580 orders for the $27,000 Typ-1 e and the $30,000 Typ-1 h. Pilot production is set to begin with 30 Typ-1 e vehicles next year, though eventually Aptera expects to build 2000 vehicles annually.
Oh wait, you probably wanted a firm public availability date, huh? Yeah, so did I. But in the mean time, check out the new (since I last checked, anyway) FAQ on the Aptera website.