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Aptera Announces Pre-Production 2e, Confirms October Production

apteradebut1

By Evan Ackerman

We’ve been following the Aptera electric spacefighter/spermmobile for over two years now as it inches closer to production, and yesterday Aptera announced the rollout of a pre-production version of their wicked awesome electric car. You still can’t buy one yet, but the pre-production evaluation is an important step towards production of a purchasable consumer model, which Aptera says should happen by this October (in California, anyway).

The Aptera is still maintaining a sub 6 second 0-60 time, 200 mile range (100 miles on electricity alone), and a pricetag starting at a mere $25,000 (up to $45k with options). For more info, check out some of our previous Aptera coverage (with videos) here and here.

[ Aptera ] VIA [ Edmunds ]

Aptera Type 1 Tour Video

By Evan Ackerman

In their March newsletter, Aptera is making things sound pretty bright and cheery when it comes to the future of their (let’s face it) revolutionary car-thing. Yesterday they added this video, which doesn’t provide much in the way of new info, but does show some details of the car’s interior:

Also in the newsletter, Aptera promises that they’re “going to be updating you regularly from now until the rollout.” They’re hiring new people, making a new website, and moving into a bigger place, but the meat and potatoes is that they still have to conduct advanced crash testing and refine the manufacturing process before production. Their goal is still to begin production in “late 2008.”

I noticed a few more facts on their website, such as the minimum hybrid mileage of 130 mpg (at sustained highway speeds). Also, the Aptera is classified as a motorcycle (although it doesn’t require any special driver’s license endorsement) but it exceeds safety requirements for a passenger car. Check out the Aptera website for plenty more info.

[ Aptera Newsletter ]

Aptera Spotted At Starfleet Command

Aptera

By Evan Ackerman

Back when we first introduced the Aptera, I mentioned that it looked like a space fighter. I guess someone was listening, since this picture shows an Aptera on what is supposedly the set of the new Star Trek movie, at Cal State Northridge’s Oviatt Library.

Aptera

As long as people realize that it’s not a prop and you can in fact order one, this should certainly be great publicity of Aptera… ‘Course, production on the car is supposed to begin “in late 2008,” a ways ahead of the May 2009 release date for the movie. Who knows, maybe by then the Aptera will be everywhere and nobody will be impressed by the movie cameo. We can only hope.

[ Aptera ] VIA [ Ain’t It Cool ]

Video: Popular Mechanics Test Drives Aptera Prototype

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.

[ Aptera ] VIA [ Popular Mechanics ]

Aptera Electric/Hybrid Car On Pre-Order for $500

Aptera

By Evan Ackerman

If you’re in the market for an environmentally friendly car that looks like an anemic space fighter, the Aptera may be for you. Unlike most electric/hybrid cars with this sort of look, the Aptera is actually going to be produced, and if you reserve yours now for a fully refundable $500, you can expect to receive it in (only) about a year. It seats 2.5 with plenty of room for luggage, and can supposedly hit 60 mph in about 10 seconds with an electronically limited top speed of 95 mph. More pics, and specs on the superefficienttotallybadass engine options, after the jump.Continue Reading

Shelby Aero EV Recharges In 10 Minutes, Goes 35 Miles In Same Time

aeroev

By Evan Ackerman

Shelby SuperCars released details and specs yesterday on what could be the world’s fastest (and possibly best looking) production electric car. The Shelby Ultimate Aero EV has 1000 HP, 800 lb-ft of torque, and goes 0-60 in 2.5 seconds on its way to 208 mph. These are not the most impressive numbers, though… The Aero EV has a range of 150-200 miles, and can fully recharge in ten minutes from a 220 volt appliance outlet.

The Ultimate Aero EV is powered by Shelby’s All-Electric Scalable Powertrain (AESV), a modular system which incorporates both electric motors and charging technology and is available with anywhere from 200 to 1200 horsepower. The idea is that you (you being vehicle manufacturers) buy Shelby’s AESV system and then stick whatever you want on it. If this works out, it could drastically mitigate one of the biggest problems with electric cars like the Tesla Roadster, and even the Aptera: the hours-long recharge times.

[ Shelby ] VIA [ Inhabitat ]

Bailout To Make Chevy Volt $7500 Cheaper

By Evan Ackerman

With the Chevy Volt‘s price going up just about as fast as its looks (and some specs) were toned down (okay, okay, for good reasons, but still…) here’s a bit of good news: In its infinite wisdom, the U.S. Congress has seen fit to include a tax credit of up to $7500 to future Chevy Volt owners along with the totally wicked awesome (or something) $700 billion bailout package. The sliding credit starts at just over $4100 for plug-in cars with 4 kWh batteries, but the top end $7500 is likely to only be seen by people who buy a Volt, with its 16 kWh battery. The Toyota Prius, with a measly 1.3 kWh battery pack, doesn’t come close.

Disappointingly, the Aptera Typ-1e, with its 10 kWh battery, is not technically an automobile (it’s only got 3 wheels, after all) and therefore does not get any tax breaks at all, which could put the $30,000ish space fighter on par with the $40,000ish – $7500 Volt. It’s gonna be an interesting next few years in the hybrid electric car market, that’s for sure… Maybe I’ll win the lottery and be able to get a piece of it myself.

[ DailyTech ] VIA [ CrunchGear ]

Shocking: Chevy Volt To Cost Extra $5k Due To Speaker System

Chevy Volt

By Evan Ackerman

Your favorite mostly realistic eco-friendly concept car, the Chevy Volt, was supposed to (as of the LA Auto Show) be released in 2010 for somewhere between $20,000 and $30,000. I’m shocked, shocked I tell you, to have to report that it’s now (still nearly 3 years away from a late 2010 arrival) looking like it’ll be closer to $35,000. According to General Motors, the problem is that when you throw in stuff like headlights, windshield wipers, and a 10 speaker (!) stereo system, it all starts to suck battery away from the wheels, and your mileage, well, tanks. In order to solve the problem, GM is going to not really solve the problem, and just install “redundant systems” (which I can only imagine will be separate batteries) to power all the non-engine electronics. Expect the problem to be solved for real on the second generation Volt.

I can’t reiterate enough how impressed I am with the effort that Chevy is putting into the Volt, and their commitment to affordability and a realistic availability schedule. But the key is going to be keeping those promises, or else consumers are going to lose confidence in the practical nature of electric cars. Meantime, take another look at the Aptera

VIA [ Wired ]