Aptera Motors

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Aptera Motors Corp.
Private company
IndustryAutomotive
Founded2005; 15 years ago (2005)
Founders
  • Steven P. Fambro (Co-CEO)
  • Chris L. Anthony (Co-CEO)
  • Michael Johnson
Headquarters,
Area served
Worldwide
Key people
  • Jason Hill (Design)
  • Nathon Armstrong (Mechanical Engineering)
  • Brian Gallagher (Autopilot & Interface Systems)
  • Miles Wheeler (Aerodynamics)
ProductsAptera 3 "Never Charge" EV
Websiteaptera.us

Aptera Motors (formerly Accelerated Composites) is an American startup company based in San Diego, California set up to manufacture high-efficiency road vehicles.

The original company, Aptera Motors, Inc., was founded in 2005 and liquidated in 2011.

In 2019, Aptera Motors was re-formed under the leadership of the original founders, Chris Anthony and Steve Fambro, as Aptera Motors Corp.[1] It then began a crowdfunding campaign[2] to restart development and production of what is touted to be the most highly efficient road vehicle in the world.[1]

The old Aptera Motors' first product was to be a three-wheeled two-seater named the Aptera 2 Series. The fuel efficiency of 300 mpg‑US (0.78 L/100 km) when plugged in every 120 miles (190 km) promised to make it one of the most fuel-efficient cars in the world. [3]

As of 2019, the first planned product has been revised to be a pure battery powered electric vehicle (BEV) using just under 100Wh per mile and with up to a 1600 km (1000 mile) range, with solar panels that add up to 40 additional miles a day from sunlight alone.[1][4]

On February 28, 2020, the company announced it closed a $2 million round of private financing, supplementing Aptera's current crowdfunding efforts, where the company had already raised over 300% of their crowdfunding goal. This fully funds Aptera's 2019 plan. The plan is currently to build and test development vehicles through the 3rd quarter of 2020, then move from development into production by the end of 2020.[5]

The Aptera 3 "Never Charge" EV profile
Aptera EV overhead view showing the 700 watts worth of solar cells.

Planned production vehicles[edit]

The Aptera 3[edit]

As of 2019, the first planned production Aptera will be a two-seat, three-wheeled passenger battery electric vehicle (BEV). It will feature three wheel hub motors and an estimated range of up to 1600 km (1000 miles) with a 100 KWh battery pack.

It's unique aerodynamic design and lightweight resin composite construction will allow it to achieve that range by requiring less than 100 Wh of energy per mile, making it about 2.5 times as energy efficient as a Tesla Model 3.

Embedded solar cells will contribute up to an additional 41 miles per day from sunlight alone under ideal conditions.[4] Since most users travel less than 30 miles per day, this feature will allow many users to seldom, if ever, need to plug it in to charge the batteries. Thus the Aptera is being promoted as the world's first "Never Charge" EV.[4] The company's web site features a calculator to allow individuals to estimate how often they would need to charge an Aptera based on where they live and how much they drive.

Several solar panel and battery configurations are planned, at price targets ranging from $34 to $59 thousand. [2]

The Standard Edition will have a 60 KWh battery pack and be speed limited to a top speed of 120 mph. [6]

The Long Range Edition will have the 100 KWh battery pack.

Both the Standard and Long Range editions are specified to do 0 to 60 mph in under 4 seconds. A Performance Edition is specified to do that "in 3 seconds flat".[6]

The 4 Wheeled, 5 or 6 Passenger Aptera[edit]

Aptera Motors has stated in the timeline on its web site that it will begin design of a full sized 6 passenger vehicle in the second half of 2020.[4] However, in a more recent interview, the founders stated their next vehicle will be a 4-wheeled, 5 passenger car.[7]

History[edit]

The company was founded by Steve Fambro in 2006 and was originally named "Accelerated Composites"; Fambro had formerly worked at Illumina as an electrical engineer. Fambro hired Chris Anthony to be the COO shortly after founding the company.[8]

In 2006, the company announced it had a three-wheeled car design that would get an estimated 330 miles per US gallon (0.71 L/100 km) at 65 mph (105 km/h) and in March 2007 it showed a prototype called the typ-1 at the TED Conference.[9] By that time the typ-1 had been classified as a motorcycle.[8] By that time the company had changed its name to Aptera,[9] which is Greek for “wingless,” a nod to their light-aircraft-inspired design and construction techniques.[10] However, Aptera Motors maintains that Aptera translates to "wingless flight". Later that year Aptera signed up to participate in the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize.[11] It planned to offer an all-electric vehicle and a hybrid.[8]

In 2008, Aptera Motors hired several industry veterans to oversee engineering and production as well as marketing, and raised $24 million from Google, Idealab, Esenjay, the Simons family and the Beall Family Trust. When the company announced the funding, it said it would start to sell its car by the end of the year.[12] Near the end of year it hired Paul Wilbur as CEO, and Fambro stepped down as CEO and assumed the title of Chief Technical Officer. Shortly after Wilbur joined the company, it announced that the launch of the car would be delayed until 2009.[12] By that time it was calling the "typ-1" the "2e".[12]

In March 2009, the U.S. government denied loans to Aptera Motors under the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program, due to wording that limited loans to four-wheeled vehicle research and production.[13] After successfully lobbying to change the regulations,[14] in October 2009 the company reapplied for a $184 million loan.[15][16] In November 2009 the company laid off employees and both Fambro and Anthony left the company.[17][12]

The automotive X-prize competition was held in 2010 and Aptera's car entered but didn't finish the 50 lap trial, as its car overheated after 30 laps.[18]

In August 12, 2011, Aptera Motors started to return deposits from customers.[19] and in December 2011 it announced that it was going out of business because it was running out of money; it said that the Department of Energy had offered it a $150 million low interest loan conditioned on the company raising the same amount from the private sector, and the company was not able to raise the matching funds. A New York Times reporter contacted the DoE, which said that it had not committed to loaning the company any money.[20] By that time the company had abandoned the three-wheeled model and was working on a midsized four-wheeled, four door sedan.[20] Also by the time, 60,000 people had expressed interest to the company in buying a 2e, and 2,000 of them had paid a $500 deposit.[21]

In April 2012, the Chinese automaker Zhejiang Jonway Group purchased the intellectual property of Aptera from creditors, and in May it announced that it would start manufacturing the 2e at its factory in Shanghai and intended to ship chassis to a small assembly plant, initially employing 15-20 people, that it would set up in Santa Rosa, with sales commencing in early 2013. Jonway was a major investor in Zap Jonway, which had been working on electric cars in Santa Rose since the mid-1990s. The company originally was going to name the US company "Zaptera USA" and it displayed a prototype 2e next to a Zap Jonway car at the Beijing Motor Show; the close association with Zap was met with protest by electric car enthusiasts and by May the company said it would call the company Aptera USA and would keep it separate from Zap Jonway.[21]

In June 2013, Zaptera USA said it would split into two companies: the existing Jonway-owned Zaptera USA, and an independent Aptera USA; Zaptera would make the all-electric 2e and Aptera would make a gasoline-powered version called the 2g.[22] However, by mid-May the following year, those new Aptera companies had gone silent.[23]

Then in 2019, Aptera Motors was re-formed under the leadership of the original founders, Chris Anthony and Steve Fambro, as Aptera Motors Corp.[1] It then began a crowdfunding campaign[2] to restart development and production of what is touted to be the most highly efficient road vehicle in the world, the Aptera 3.[1]

In February 2020 the company announced it had raised enough funding to see the Aptera 3 into production by the end of 2020.[5] In a May 2020 update the company announced it had increased its engineering team from 15 to 60 people worldwide, in 5 locations around the US and in 5 countries around the world.[24]

Historic vehicles[edit]

Aptera Motors' vehicle design has undergone several design revisions, summarized here. The first two vehicles were intended as concept cars for soliciting investment money rather than production vehicles. The third vehicle, the Aptera 2e was intended for production, but the funding required was not achieved.

Aptera Mk-0
Overview
ManufacturerAptera Motors, Inc.
Productionno (technology demonstrator)
AssemblyUnited States
Body and chassis
ClassSubcompact
Body style2-door three-wheeled car
Powertrain
EngineDiesel: 9 kW (12 hp)
Electric: 19 kW (25 hp)
TransmissionCVT
Dimensions
Wheelbase1,625 mm (64 in)
Length4,394 mm (173 in)
Curb weight386 kg (851 lb)
Chronology
Predecessorunnamed homebuilt prototype
SuccessorAptera 2e

Initial design & rendering[edit]

Aptera's introductory press release claimed their design would achieve 330 mpg, and included computer renderings of the proposed vehicle. The body shape was initially estimated to have a drag coefficient of Cd=0.055 to 0.06, and would have sported a 12 horsepower (9 kW) diesel engine and a 24 horsepower (18 kW) permanent magnet DC motor. The design also called for a CVT and ultracapacitors, and sell for under US$20,000.[25]

Aptera Mk-0[edit]

The Mk-0 technology demonstration vehicle was built to confirm the effectiveness of the design, and in the words of co-founder Chris Anthony, “just to show people that we weren't full of crap.”[26] Due to its higher than expected drag coefficient of 0.11, it only achieved 230 mpg‑US (1.0 L/100 km) at 55 mph (89 km/h). The target price was unchanged at “around $20,000.”

Aptera Typ-1 / Aptera Mk-1[edit]

In September 2007, the Aptera Motors website was updated with information on the new Aptera design (dubbed the Aptera Typ-1), and the Mk-1 pre-production prototype was unveiled. The Mk-0 prototype was redesigned by Jason Hill, who worked on the Smart Fortwo and Porsche Carrera GT and engineered by Nathan Armstrong,[27] with a finished interior and new body styling. At this time, Aptera Motors started to take reservations from residents of California for its pilot models – then called the Typ-1e and Typ-1h.[28] A gasoline engine was used, due to the way diesel emissions are calculated.[29]

In February 2008, the Mk-1 was featured in an advertisement for Touchstone Energy Cooperatives.[30]

In late 2008, Aptera announced that the Aptera Typ-1 would receive several design changes and would be renamed the Aptera 2e. Differences included front-wheel drive, the addition of side-view mirrors, a redesigned interior, and consolidating the rear-view cameras into a wide-angle “fin” on the roof.[31][32]

Aptera 2 Series[edit]

Aptera Typ-1

The Aptera 2 Series was to be a two-seat, three-wheeled passenger vehicle. It was planned to be available in both all-electric (2e) and series hybrid (2h) configurations, at prices ranging from mid-twenty to mid-forty thousand dollars.[33] By mid-2008, aerodynamic optimization using simulations and light-weight composite construction yielded a prototype which allegedly consumed only 80 Wh/mi (watt hours per mile) (50 Wh/km) at 55 mph (89 km/h), less than half the energy needed to propel the EV1 or the Tesla.[34] The April 14, 2010 press release revised the design intent vehicle efficiency estimate to about 200 Wh/mi (125 Wh/km), 100-mile (160 km) range from a full 20 kWh battery pack, or around 200 mpg‑US (1.2 L/100 km) equivalent.[16] On the hybrid vehicle, it led to projections of 130 miles per US gallon (1.8 L/100 km) on gasoline alone, or 300 mpg‑US (0.78 L/100 km) if plugged in every 120 miles (190 km). Since then, the vehicle underwent a series of redesigns, including the addition of side mirrors and expansion of the interior space, however, retaining its three-wheel configuration and its aerodynamic teardrop shape. At the Automotive X-Prize, the entered prototype had a tested efficiency of 200 MPGe.

Aptera Motors emphasized that safety was not traded off for efficiency, citing crash test simulations and component crush testing[35] as indicating excellent survivability–on par with more conventional vehicles. The company folded before real-world crash test results were made.

The Aptera 2 Series featured optional roof-mounted solar panels for running a heat pump, always-on climate control, and keyless ignition and entry. An in-car touch screen computer served as entertainment, navigation, and communication system. Side mirrors replaced rear-view cameras on the final prototypes, though one center-mounted camera remained.[36]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Voelcker, John (2019-08-28). "Exclusive: 3-Wheeled Aptera Reboots as World's Most Efficient Electric Car". IEEE Spectrum. IEEE. Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "Invest in Aptera Motors". Wefunder. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
  3. ^ Baker, Billy (September 1, 2006). "The Race to 100 MPG". Popular Science. Retrieved November 22, 2007.
  4. ^ a b c d "Aptera Motors Corp. | Electric Vehicles". Aptera. Aptera Motors Corp. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  5. ^ a b Anthony, Chris (2020-02-28). "Aptera just closed a $2M private round!". Wefunder. Wefunder Inc. Retrieved 2020-02-28.
  6. ^ a b Anthony, Chris (2019-09-14). "Aptera - Ask a Question". Wefunder. Wefunder Inc. Retrieved 2020-01-14.
  7. ^ Oswal, Rajal (2020-02-24). "Aptera Founders". YouTube. Retrieved 2020-03-22.
  8. ^ a b c Bradley, Fikes (September 25, 2007). "Prototype gets 300 mpg, company says, qualifies for car-pool lane". North County Times. Archived from the original on June 8, 2008.
  9. ^ a b Melanson, Donald (March 14, 2007). "Aptera takes wraps off 200 MPG prototype car". Engadget.
  10. ^ "Aptera's 3-wheeler looks as if it could soar". San Francisco Chronicle. April 16, 2008. Retrieved August 2, 2008.
  11. ^ "Automotive X PRIZE Announces First 30+ Teams in Multimillion Dollar Competition for 100 MPGe Vehicles". Automotive X Prize. August 1, 2007. Archived from the original on July 5, 2008.
  12. ^ a b c d Wert, Ray (November 16, 2009). "Aptera Founders Ousted in Boardroom Showdown". Jalopnik.
  13. ^ Squatriglia, Chuck (March 11, 2009). "Tri, Tri Again for Aptera 3-Wheeler Loan From Feds | Autopia". Wired. Archived from the original on November 13, 2009. Retrieved October 25, 2009.
  14. ^ Squatriglia, Chuck (2009-10-30). "Obama Says Aptera's 3-Wheeler Is a Car". Wired. Retrieved 2020-02-25.
  15. ^ Korzeniewski, Jeremy (October 30, 2009). "Aptera officially resubmits application for DOE loan – Autoblog Green". Green.autoblog.com. Retrieved September 6, 2010.
  16. ^ a b "April 14 Press Release". April 14, 2010. Archived from the original on July 7, 2011. Retrieved April 15, 2010.
  17. ^ Siry, Darryl (November 15, 2009). "Aptera Founders Ousted in Boardroom Showdown". Wired.
  18. ^ "Automotive X Prize: Why some teams failed". Consumer Reports News. September 23, 2010.
  19. ^ John Voelcker (August 13, 2011). "Futuristic Electric-Car Dream Dead? Aptera To Refund Deposits". Green Car Reports. Retrieved August 13, 2011.
  20. ^ a b Jim Motavalli (December 2, 2011). "Unable to Raise Financing, Aptera Shuts Down". The New York Times. Retrieved December 3, 2011.
  21. ^ a b Jeff Quackenbush (May 7, 2012). "Santa Rosa said to be home for reborn Aptera electric roadster". North Bay Business Journal. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
  22. ^ Coxworth, Ben (June 10, 2013). "New company set to resurrect the Aptera automobile". New Atlas.
  23. ^ Sloan, Jeff. "Where Are They Now?". CompositesWorld. Gardner Business Media, Inc. Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  24. ^ "The Aptera Family is Growing FAST!". Wefunder. 2020-05-15. Retrieved 2020-05-15.
  25. ^ "330 MPG! Aptera Hybrid Promises Amazing Mileage for Less Than $20,000". Edmunds.com. January 20, 2006. Archived from the original on October 10, 2006. Retrieved November 22, 2007.
  26. ^ "An Aptera guided tour: the factory". Aptera Motors. April 30, 2008. Archived from the original on June 3, 2014. Retrieved December 13, 2008.
  27. ^ Eric, Hagerman (December 20, 2007). "1 Gallon of Gas, 100 Miles – $10 Million: The Race to Build the Supergreen Car". Wired Magazine. Archived from the original on May 9, 2008. Retrieved April 1, 2008.
  28. ^ Ackerman, Evan (September 28, 2007). "OhGizmo! » Archive » Aptera Electric/Hybrid Car On Pre-Order for $500". OhGizmo!. Archived from the original on May 17, 2008. Retrieved May 13, 2008.
  29. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Aptera Motors. Archived from the original on January 11, 2008. Retrieved January 19, 2008.
  30. ^ "YouTube – Change Rolls Into Town". Touchstone Energy Cooperatives. March 6, 2008. Archived from the original on January 26, 2016. Retrieved July 4, 2008.
  31. ^ "Aptera Newsletter 11/19/2008". Aptera Motors. November 19, 2008. Archived from the original on December 4, 2008. Retrieved December 13, 2008.
  32. ^ "Aptera Newsletter 1]2/19/2008". Aptera Motors. December 19, 2008. Archived from the original on December 27, 2008. Retrieved December 26, 2008.
  33. ^ Aptera FAQ's Archived May 7, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 12/30/2008
  34. ^ Kates, David (March 4, 2008). "YouTube – Aptera CEO Steve Fambro". AlternativeEnergy.com. Retrieved March 31, 2008.
  35. ^ "Aptera Safety". Archived from the original on May 10, 2013. Retrieved April 15, 2013.
  36. ^ Newsletter 11/19/08 Archived January 3, 2010, at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]