Aptera 2 Series
|Aptera 2 Series|
|Manufacturer||Aptera Motors, Inc.|
|Also called||Aptera 2e, Aptera 2h|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door three-wheeled car|
|Layout||Front-engine, front-wheel drive layout|
|Engine||2e: Remy 82kW electric motor
2h: Gasoline generator + Electric Motor
|Transmission||2e: Borg-Warner single ratio transaxle
2h: Series hybrid layout
|Wheelbase||108 in (274 cm)|
|Length||175.6 in (446 cm)|
|Width||86 in (218 cm)|
|Height||54.4 in (138 cm)|
|Curb weight||1,800 lb (820 kg)|
The Aptera 2 Series (formerly the Aptera Typ-1) was a high-efficiency passenger three-wheeled automobile under development by Aptera Motors. The California-based company opened a pre-ordering process for residents of California, but stopped taking deposits in July 2011, and on August 12, 2011, Aptera announced it would return all deposits from customers who had signed up to buy an Aptera 2e electric car or the planned 2h hybrid, before the company finally folded in December 2011.
The first variant of the 2 Series slated for production was the Aptera 2e (formerly Typ-1e), a battery electric vehicle. Aptera claimed the 2e would accelerate from 0 to 60 mph (0 to 97 km/h) in less than 10 seconds, and be capable of reaching a top speed of over 85 mph (137 km/h). A later variant would have been Aptera 2h (formerly Typ-1h), a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. According to Aptera, the 2 Series would have been priced from the mid-US$20,000s to mid-US$40,000s, depending on the variant and options selected by the buyer.
An Aptera 2 made a short appearance in the 2009 film Star Trek.
Design and fuel consumption
The Aptera 2 Series was designed to be a low-energy vehicle; early estimates of its energy consumption ran as low as 80 watt-hours/mi at 55 mph. Later estimates are as high as 200Wh for aggressive driving. The company stated in September 2009 that "if Aptera was given an official EPA rating [the fuel-efficiency figure assigned to all cars by the United States federal government], it would be 851 mpg", suggesting that it is 2.2 times more efficient than Nissan Leaf. The Aptera 2 Series has a drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.15, compared with 0.19 for the record-holding General Motors EV1, and 0.24 for the 2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupé, currently the lowest for a mass-produced car. The Aptera's atypical shape is a result of extensive optimization in a virtual wind tunnel, following the designs of Alberto Morelli. It used recessed windshield wipers and low rolling resistance tires.
The first prototype attained a Cd of 0.11 by making use of an "Eyes-Forward" rear-view camera system instead of side-view mirrors, which create a large amount of drag. A September 2008 Aptera newsletter showed a rendering of the car featuring a conventional driver-side mirror and no driver-side rear-view camera. Aptera CTO Steve Fambro stated that the system was simplified to make use of a single camera mounted near the top of the vehicle.
The Aptera 2 Series was a three-wheeled vehicle with front-wheel drive. On March 23, 2010, Aptera announced their use of BorgWarner's 31-03 eGearDrive transmission for the 2e drive train. An April 14, 2010 press release announced further suppliers: A123 Systems for the 20kWh lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery pack, and Remy International for the 82 kW HVH250 electric motor.
The freeway range was promised to be around 100 miles (160 km) with two passengers and some luggage. They planned to offer an SAE J1772 compatible charging system, at either 110 or 220V.
Plug-in series hybrid
An early Aptera 2h design used a "small, water-cooled EFI gasoline engine with closed loop oxygen feedback and catalytic converter," coupled with a 12 kW generator/starter. With a tank capacity of "up to five gallons," the Aptera 2h would have a claimed range of 600 to 700 mi (970 to 1,130 km), compared to the 120 miles (190 km) range of the Aptera 2e. The 2h would have been a series hybrid: The engine would not be connected to the drivetrain, instead being used to recharge the batteries.
As with any plug-in hybrid, fuel economy of the Aptera 2h would depend on trip length and battery charge. For trips of less than about 50 miles (80 km) after a full charge the engine may not turn on at all, resulting in approximately the same energy consumption as the pure electric model — 96 watt-hours/mile. If on the other hand, the car were never plugged in, the Aptera 2h would get 130 miles per US gallon (1.8 l/100 km). Aptera Motors quoted 300 miles per US gallon (0.8 l/100 km), which applies to a 120-mile (190 km) trip after a full charge. They justified this by stating that 99% of Americans drive less than 120 miles (190 km) daily.
Because the Aptera 2 Series had only three wheels, most states in the US classify the vehicle as a motorcycle. This means that safety and emissions tests are not mandatory, as they are for automobiles.
Despite this, Aptera Motors emphasized that safety had a high priority in the vehicle's design. Aptera Motors performed simulated crash tests using ABAQUS FEA software, crush testing on structural components, and was planning real-world crash tests before production. The Aptera 2e featured a Formula One-inspired passenger safety cell and boxed sandwich foam core composite structures. Frontal crumple distance was 45 inches (114 cm), large for a vehicle of its size. As the body is above most cars' bumpers, a colliding vehicle's bumper would travel under the body, deflecting the energy. Despite its height, the placement of the heavy batteries lowered the center-of-mass of the Aptera 2 Series, a design similar to the highly stable Commuter Cars Tango. Driver and passenger airbag-in-seatbelts were also provided.
Accessories and interior
The design intent model, revealed on April 14, 2010, seated two adults, had power windows, cup holders, and had 22.75 cubic feet (644 L) of cargo capacity, enough for a couple of surfboards or a dozen bags of groceries. It used LED running and interior lights to reduce power consumption. An optional solar panel mounted on the roof runs the heat pump during the day. This keeps the interior comfortable and reduces the size of the heat pump needed. The seats can be heated or cooled by forced air, both for comfort and efficiency reasons. The only comfort downside is that the suspension was described as "hard".
Radio, CD/DVD/MP3 player, and GPS navigation were integrated into an in-console touch screen carputer, based on Moblin by Wind River Systems, but the climate control used physical dials. It also had RFID-based keyless ignition and entry and scarab doors.
To reduce the ecological footprint of construction, EcoSpun recycled materials and organic dyes were to be used for the seats and flooring, and the dashboard and the door panels were free of heavy metals and plasticizers. Aptera also planned to have leatherette and leather seats as options.
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