Aptera’s SuperMPG Electric Typ1 e Exclusive Video Test Drive Popular Mechanics

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Aptera’s Super-MPG Electric e: Exclusive Video Test

PM hits the streets and gets at more than ever then heads to the shop for details on a futuristic car so efficient it make your jaw drop. The news? It’s coming year.

December 21, 2007 AM Text Size: A. A. A

Three miles per gallon and a Jetsons look are enough to get anyone But ever since the word got out on it month. Aptera’s innovative three-wheeler has been the target of theorizing and conjecture across the Is it real?

Does it have it takes to be a practical vehicle for transport? Is it stable enough to Does it even actually

Well we wondered some of things, too, so we scouted out if a prototype really exists.


This week we visited headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif. and the very first outside of the to hit the street in the Typ-1 e. And, as you can see the video of our 20-mile test above, we’re impressed.

has two innovative models that are production-ready at $30,000 and below: for year, the all-electric, 120-mile-range e that we drove; and, by the range-extended series gasoline h, which Aptera says hit 300 mpg. A more conventional model, called Project X or Typ-2, is now in the design phase, plans for a four-wheeled chassis and up for to five passengers.

For now, though, the Typ-1 certainly do. Check out all the specs the shop and the street.

The Typ-1’s chassis shows how the company has inspiration from aircraft, and high-performance cars. For durability as as weight and cost savings, the of the Typ-1 is constructed from a top and advanced composite structures together along the midsection. the top and bottom weighing in at a mere 160 and 180 respectively, the entire vehicle at approximately 1480 pounds

The chassis has steel reinforcements in key at the roll hoop, along the of the windshield, in the doors (for impact protection) and, of in the front subframe (for the system as well as the engine and cradle).

On the all-electric model, the pack lives in the center of the subframe. A tiny gasoline combustion engine in the hybrid shares that space. In this chassis has part of the exhaust, which you can see just and to the left of the subframe.

The rear-drive wheel is mounted to a swing arm similar to that of with a design optimized to the Aptera’s loads. The rear has 3 in. of up travel and 2 in. of droop.

A belt system connects to an electric that has regenerative braking to charge the battery pack. The on the prototype are the same 165/65R14 from the Honda Insight.

The e is expected to have a target of 120 miles per charge. A ful1 of the pack will take 4 to 6 hours with a standard outlet. Aptera’s team is evaluating lithium phosphate packs from a few suppliers, so the specs of the 10-kWh batteries confidential. (The hybrid will use a smaller battery

This wall of equipment is of the battery test station. super capacitors augment the pack for when you neeed boosts of power (think stupefied fellow drivers on the

Think the Typ-1 looks Well its shape is designed for aero efficiency—the coefficient of is an astounding 0.11. Aptera and CEO Steve Fambro says your hand out the window of an car driving 55 mph creates more than the Aptera’s entire

The prototype’s wheel skirts may be in production for better aerodynamic as well as for front-wheel accessibility. The windshield is laminated safety and so are the side windows. But the production car use polycarbonate for the side windows, additional weight.

Aptera’s comes furnished with EcoSpun materials on the dash, panels and seats. You can toggle a switch between the seats for Drive, Neutral and Reverse.

still: the Typ-1 e uses a system with three that display images on dash panels where gauges would normally (Traditional rearview mirrors still probably make it to as well.)

The vehicle’s vital (speed, battery life, is displayed on one of these screens, The large central screen, houses a navigation and audio

Aptera’s climate-control components are from that of normal That’s because the roof-mounted panel powers the A/C system the vehicle is resting. It then hot cabin air out through twin ports at the rear of the vehicle.

The can also help charge the pack. The clamshell trunk can 15.9 cu.-ft. of cargo.

open the gullwing doors, and you realize that getting the Aptera is like getting an exotic car. You slide backside into the seat then swing your inside. Once you’re in, the driving position is slightly very comfortable, thanks to the steering wheel.

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The seats on this prototype are those on a concept car—a too hard and unsupportive. For production, will put in more traditional plus windows that roll down. Typ-1 also have a provision for a seat mounted in the center of the behind the two front seats.

the dial to the D position, and the Aptera like many other EVs, with a constant of torque. The powertrain pulls up to 50 mph or so (the fastest the streets on our would allow). Interestingly, you floor the accelerator, there’s a when the reareand jacks up as the torque is applied.

It’s a feeling, as it is on some shaft-drive it’s kind of fun. It the acceleration feel stronger it is.

Our 20-mile test drive had a few corners. And even while we exceeding the street’s speed by a good margin, Aptera’s felt stable and planted. The rack and pinion steering a little muscle when (as most cars do); you’re up to speed, however, e feels quick and direct.

The vehicle rides much a soft sports coupe—composed but not stiff. Step on the non-power and they do require a bit of leg muscle. But also stop Aptera’s car

All of these calibrations will improve and evolve as the car develops. all, this is a prototype.

The through the windshield is panoramic. But easy to forget that are two front wheels sticking out 16 in. the bodywork. We kept far away right-side curbs until we got to the wheel placement.

The large windshield lets you see everyone and And in this car, what you see is staring back at you: three-wheeler attracted more than anything we’ve driven—anything. People will down their windows at stoplight and want to know this weirdly futuristic is. If you’re parked, they the car.

It’s really a lot of

The rearview cameras provide a indication of what’s going on you, but the Aptera does a bit of a blind spot—so it takes practice and planning to pass. And was especially true for us, since is a $1-million prototype.

Since the is a three-wheeler, you don’t need a license to drive one (even it’s technically classified as a And since it has a roof, you don’t a helmet either.

For now, Aptera’s plan is to sell cars only in with distributors in San Diego, Los and Menlo Park. But they’ll have a fleet of Dodge biodiesel service trucks to customer cars and provide service.

Fambro says only needs to sell 300 to make the company profitable. So far the has over 580 orders for the $27,000 e and the $30,000 Typ-1 h. Pilot is set to begin with 30 Typ-1 e next year, though Aptera expects to build vehicles annually. Sign us up for a test.

Mitsuoka Like Electric Cars
Mitsuoka Like Electric Cars
Mitsuoka Like Electric Cars
Mitsuoka Like Electric Cars
Mitsuoka Like Electric Cars

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