|Products||Aptera solar EV|
|Total assets||US$3,363,000 (2021)|
Number of employees
The original company, Aptera Motors, Inc., was founded in 2005 and liquidated in 2011.
In 2019, Aptera Motors was re-formed by the original founders, Chris Anthony and Steve Fambro, as Aptera Motors Corp. It used a crowdfunding campaign to restart development of what is touted as the most highly efficient road vehicle in the world.
The original Aptera Motors' design was a three-wheeled two-seat vehicle named the Aptera 2 Series. The estimated fuel efficiency of 300 mpg‑US (0.78 L/100 km), when plugged in every 120 miles (190 km), would have made it one of the most fuel-efficient passenger vehicles in the world.
As of 2019, the Aptera had been redesigned to be a pure battery-powered electric vehicle (BEV) using under 100Wh per mile on the EPA test cycle, with an estimated EPA test-cycle range of 1,000 miles (1,600 km), with solar panels that could add up to 40 miles of range per day. This makes the Aptera the most efficient and longest-range vehicle ever designed for mass production.
On December 4, 2020, the company revealed the new Aptera EV prototype, releasing model and option details with prices, and opened pre-orders. Within eight days they received deposits for over 3000 Aptera vehicles, valued at over $100,000,000. Within 7 weeks the orders had exceeded $200,000,000.
Aptera Solar Electric Vehicle
As of 2019, the first planned production Aptera is a two-seat, three-wheeled passenger battery electric vehicle (BEV). It will feature two or three wheel hub motors and have an EPA-test-cycle estimated range of over 1,000 miles (1,600 km) from a 100 KWh battery pack.
Its small frontal cross-section area, unique aerodynamic design, and lightweight resin composite construction achieved this estimated 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, with half the passenger capacity but more cargo space than a Model 3.
Embedded solar cells have been designed to contribute an estimated additional 41 miles per day from sunlight under ideal conditions. Since most drivers drive less than 30 miles per day, this feature would allow many drivers to skip the plug-in charge. The Aptera is thus promoted as the world's first "Never Charge" EV. The company's web site features a calculator that allows drivers to estimate how often they would need to charge an Aptera based on where they live and how much they drive.
Multiple solar panel, motor, and battery configurations are planned, with estimated ranges from 250 to 1000 miles, priced from $25,900 to over $47,000.
4-wheeled, 5- or 6-passenger Aptera
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. However, in a more recent interview, the founders said their next vehicle will be a 4-wheeled, 5 passenger car.
In September 2020, Aptera Motors published on their WeFunder page an investor presentation, dated July, 2020, with a production plan projecting Aptera first availability in the 2nd quarter of 2021. On December 4, 2020, Aptera Motors revealed the first solar-powered Aptera prototype. On the same day, Chris Anthony wrote, "Delivery for early orders is end of 2021". On January 11, 2021, he added, "If we can raise funds effectively and COVID doesn't continue to be a significant impediment, we should be able to deliver 4 to 6 thousand units in 2022."
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.
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. The typ-1 model had been classified as a motorcycle. By that time the company had changed its name to Aptera, which is Greek for "wingless", a nod to their light-aircraft-inspired design and construction techniques. 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. It planned to offer an all-electric vehicle and a hybrid.
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. 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. By that time, it was calling the "typ-1" the "2e".
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. After successfully lobbying to change the regulations, in October 2009, the company reapplied for a $184 million loan. In November 2009 the company laid off employees, and both Fambro and Anthony left the company.
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.
On August 12, 2011, Aptera Motors started to return deposits from customers. 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, but 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. By that time, the company had abandoned the three-wheeled model and was working on a mid-sized four-wheeled four-door sedan. 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.
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 Rosa 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.
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. However, by mid-May the following year, those new Aptera companies had gone silent.
Then in 2019, Aptera Motors was re-formed under the leadership of the original founders, Chris Anthony and Steve Fambro, as Aptera Motors Corp. It then began a crowdfunding campaign to restart development and production of what is touted to be the most efficient road vehicle in the world.
In February 2020, the company announced it had raised enough funding to see the Aptera EV into production by the end of 2020. 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.
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.
|Manufacturer||Aptera Motors, Inc.|
|Production||no (technology demonstrator)|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door three-wheeled car|
|Engine||Diesel: 9 kW (12 hp)|
Electric: 19 kW (25 hp)
|Wheelbase||1,625 mm (64 in)|
|Length||4,394 mm (173 in)|
|Curb weight||386 kg (851 lb)|
|Predecessor||unnamed homebuilt prototype|
Initial design & rendering
Aptera's introductory press release stated 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.
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.” 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
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, 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. A gasoline engine was used, due to the way diesel emissions are calculated.
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.
Aptera 2 Series
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. 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. 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. 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 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.
By the time of the original company's liquidation in 2011, the company had abandoned development of the Aptera 2e and had started to design a 5-passenger, 4-wheeled EV sedan with a lightweight composite body and a projected 130-mile range. However, no body and only a few test mules for such a car were ever built.
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Aptera Motors 2021 Annual Report, https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1786471/000164460021000040/Aptera2021AnnualReportFinal.pdf
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