“Aptera” The first Operating Prototype achieved over 230 Miles per gallon!

The first Operating Prototype achieved over 230 Miles per gallon!

Five years ago, Aptera’s founder Steve Fambro endeavored to design and build a passenger vehicle that was safe, comfortable, and more fuel-efficient than anything ever produced. This aspiration, combined with his background in engineering, led him to an intensive study of aerodynamics, and composite aircraft construction. He hypothesized that a low-drag, aerodynamic body shape could be achieved without sacrificing comfort, drivability or safety.

What emerged, after much designing, conceptualizing, and constructing, was a prototype two-seat, three-wheeled vehicle. This first operating prototype achieved a stunning 230 miles per gallon, Building on this success, Steve expanded his Aptera team and created the Aptera Typ-1, which has been re-designed, re-engineered, and refined into a production ready vehicle. We are excited to announce that the Aptera Typ-1 is now available for reservations.

Based on our wheel layout and our weight,
the Aptera Typ-1 is registered as a motorcycle.
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In fact, Aptera is a motorcycle manufacturer registered with DOT and CA DMV. This means, among other things, that we are able to issue VIN’s. Our ‘world identifier number’ is ‘5WT’, so all of our VIN’s begin with ‘5WT’. Knowing the public perception of motorcycle safety, we made the decision to make safety a fundamental part of the design of our vehicles. For example, the Typ-1 roof is designed to EXCEED rollover strength requirements spelled out in FMVSS 216 for passenger vehicles. The doors EXCEED the strength requirement spelled out in FMVSS 214. We decided not just to meet many of the specs for passenger vehicles, which are set above and beyond the requirements for motorcycles, but we chose to exceed them whenever possible. Just a few of the many parts of the safety systems on the Typ-1 are airbag-in seatbelt technology, a front subframe and a firewall that redirects energy around the occupants.

Crash Testing
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Aptera has been working quietly with CD-Adapco and ABAQUS for several months, conducting frontal offset crash test simulations. Using these incredibly powerful tools, we are continually refining and testing our vehicles in software, performing numerous ‘virtual crashes’ on computers. Our next step is to corroborate the data with live crash tests.

It is a much faster, and more efficient process, to use software analysis in addition to physical crash tests. We create a spectrum of virtual conditions, so that we may test the Typ-1 in every real-world environment. The Typ-1 is performing beautifully in the simulations, and we will soon upload the associated video and pictures to the website. We begin our side-impact phase sometime in the next two months, and we have a high degree of confidence that we’ll see similar results.

Electric & Gasoline Hybrid
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The Typ-1 uses a commoditized, ‘ruggedized’ 3-phase motor controller designed for vehicular applications, and a 3-phase motor made for us by a company here in Southern California. The rear drive suspension, and the drive reduction, are all designed and made by Aptera. Since the Typ-1e (electric) and the Typ-1h (series plug in hybrid) have different battery needs, this may result in different battery manufacturers for the two models. The Typ-1e is designed to use a 10 KWh pack, while the Typ-1h uses a smaller pack. The cycles and DOD are different for both applications. We will announce further information regarding the battery lifespan and warranty policy well before we begin manufacturing the Typ-1 next October.

Diesel or Gasoline? Our first prototype, the Mk-0, was a parallel hybrid Diesel and achieved an average of 230 MPG at a steady state of 55 MPH. This was pure Diesel/mechanical drive with no electric assist. Diesel is attractive for its Carnot efficiency and the increased enthalpy of Diesel fuel vs gasoline. However, diesel contains lots of unburned hydrocarbons and NOX compounds, and it’s impossible to get a small Diesel engine certified for emissions in California. Therefore, the typ-h uses a small, water-cooled EFI Gasoline engine with closed loop oxygen feedback and catalytic converter. This engine is coupled to a lightweight 12KW starter/generator. It’s very clean and quiet.

The real deal about Aptera’s Mileage
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With the All Electric Aptera, it is very easy to figure out the mileage range. The mileage is determined by the distance you can drive, under normal circumstances, until the batteries are effectively drained. In the case of the first Aptera typ-1e, we have calculated the range to be about 120miles.

With the Plug-in Electric Hybrid version of the Aptera(typ-1h) the mileage of the vehicle is difficult to describe with one number. For example, the Typ-1h can drive 40 to 60 miles on electric power alone. Perhaps for such a trip, the engine may only be duty-cycled for a few seconds or minutes. This would produce a fantastic number, an incredible number that, though factually true, would have no useful context, i.e. it’s just a point on a graph.

An asymptotic decaying exponential is an accurate way to describe the fuel mileage of the Typ-1h. For example driving say, 50 miles, one might calculate a MPG number that’s 2 or 3 times higher, say, 1000 MPG. As battery energy is depleted, the frequency of the engine duty cycle is increased. More fuel is used at 75 miles, the MPG might be closer to 400 MPG. Again, we’re using battery energy mostly, but turning the engine on more and more. Just over 100 miles we’re just over 300 MPG, and just beyond 120 miles, we’re around 300 MPG.

So why pick a number at 120 miles? Well, it’s more than double of most available plug-in hybrid ranges that achieve over 100 MPG. It’s three times the distance of the typical American daily commute. It’s a meaningful distance that represents the driving needs of 99% of Americans on a daily basis. Sure, it’s asymptotic, after 350-400 miles it eventually plummets to around 130 MPG at highway speeds where it will stay all day until you plug it back in and charge it up.
The Aptera was designed from the ground up as an electric vehicle, and later as an extended range electric vehicle. After building the proof-of-concept Mk-0, we hired the automotive design firm, ‘eleven’, to help us further develop the concept vehicle. The ‘eleven’ team, led by Jason Hill and Nathan Armstrong, made great strides in the development of the Aptera’s body styling, interior design, and structural engineering. Meanwhile, we refined the Aptera’s shape to maximize efficiency using CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics), developed and built advanced suspension and drivetrain components, and integrated a strong yet lightweight composite shell. Our entire process has been developed in-house exclusively by Aptera for the Aptera Typ-1. Our structural elements have undergone countless revisions of FEA (Finite Element Analysis) to be lightweight, robust, and manufacturable.

As quiet as we’ve been about Aptera, good news travels fast. Within days of our record-breaking prototype tests, we were featured in Popular Science. Bloggers also took note and soon Aptera became a mainstay across the Internet. From chat rooms to the LA Times, our biggest request has been to see the Aptera in action. To satisfy the demand, we are pleased to bring you these videos and wallpapers. We will post new video clips as they become available, so check back and feed the curiosity!

We appreciate the overwhelming amount of questions and positive comments that we have received from our Aptera supporters. In an effort to easily answer the most frequently asked questions we have compiled the list below which will be updated often.  The following questions are divided into three categories: SAFETY , SPECS , GENERAL.  Be sure to sign up for our newsletter and keep checking the site as we continue to add more Aptera information.

SAFETY

How safe is the Aptera?  What about the body strength?

With safety being our top priority, we have raised our standard beyond the requirements of a typical passenger car.  Nothing is normal or standard for the Aptera so why should we stick to “normal” safety standards?  For example, the Typ-1 roof is designed to EXCEED rollover strength requirements spelled out in FMVSS(Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard) 216 for passenger cars. The doors also far EXCEED mandated strength requirements for passenger cars as does our 45″ frontal impact deflection and crumple zone.  We decided not just to meet many of the requirements for passenger cars, but we chose to exceed them.  Industry safety standards are very different for passenger cars and motorcycles; we are choosing to go well beyond the industry safety standard for passenger cars so Aptera drivers can feel safe in any driving situation.

What are some of the safety features unique to the Aptera?

The Aptera’s composite safety cage is similar to Formula-1 cars.  Our “Eyes Forward” vision system allows for 180 degree rear sight.  There is a display panel in the driver’s field of view which enhances situational awareness allowing you to keep your eyes on the road.  The over-sized LED turn indicators located on the rear and side of the vehicle are easy for other drivers to see, adding greatly to the night and day visibility of the Aptera.

How stable is the Aptera? Can the Aptera easily roll-over?

Unlike many 3-wheel vehicle designs that were abandoned in the 80’s due to their instability the Aptera has two wheels in the front and a single rear wheel eliminating any tendency to roll-over. The Aptera also features traction control, a low center of gravity and a wide track width which makes for a very stable platform that increases cornering stability without sacrificing performance.

Will it be possible to turn off the airbag on the passenger side when you have a child on board?

Yes, this will be standard on all Aptera’s.

What if an object hits the underside of the vehicle, will I be safe?

The Aptera’s monocoque construction or structural skin provides 360 degree protection for the occupants. Monocoque construction was first widely used in the aircraft industry, starting in the 1930’s.

Since the Aptera is classified as a motorcycle, do you have to wear a helmet or get an endorsement on my license?

You are not required to wear a helmet to drive the Aptera, nor is an endorsement on your drivers license required.  Anything in the state of CA with three wheels does not require a motorcycle license and enclosed vehicles with three wheels do not require the use of a helmet.  All this and you also get to drive in the HOV lanes!

SPECS

How fast will the Aptera go?

At this time we are not able to post hard numbers on performance, although top speed for the production model will exceed 85 mph, going from 0-60 in under 10 seconds.

Can the Aptera be ordered without the rear camera and GPS?

We are considering what features will be standard equipment, and what will be a value-added option.

How long will it take to charge the Aptera?

This depends on the amount of battery discharge but a typical time would be 2 to 4 hours.

How much will it cost for an overnight charge?

Looking at typical California electricity rates the cost should be in the $1 to $2 range for an overnight charge.

Will you be able to accommodate tall drivers?

The Aptera will comfortably fit someone that is 6’1″ and with minor seat pad adjustments you can be as tall as 6’5″ and drive comfortably.

What is the turning radius?

The Aptera’s turning radius will be similar to most small production cars.

What will be the battery life and cost replacement?

This depends largely on usage and if you have an “All Electric” or an “Electric Plug-in Hybrid” version of the Aptera.  We will share these exact numbers when they become available closer to the start of Aptera production.

What is the seating and cargo space?

The Aptera has “two plus one” seating allowing plenty of room for driver and passenger while an infant seat (newborn to age three) can be located in the middle behind the front seating.  There is enough storage space to fit 15 bags of groceries, two full-size golf club bags or even a couple of seven foot surf boards.

Does the Aptera fit into a parking space?

Yes, the Aptera fits in a standard parking space.

Where are the windshield wipers?

The windshield wipers are hidden and located at the base of the windshield to maintain efficient air flow over the Aptera’s body.

Will you be able to get other colors?

Currently white is the only color that will initially be made available on the Aptera.  White is a very effective color for keeping your Aptera cool in the summer and it makes the vehicle very identifiable at night which is an added safety feature.  After initial production has begun we will look at different colors and possibly vinyl graphics to accessorize your Aptera.

Why aren’t you using a diesel engine in the hybrid?

Due to the way diesel emissions are calculated (emissions per gallon instead of emissions per mile); it’s proven impossible for us to find a suitable small Diesel engine that passes California emissions. That’s why we’re using a very clean, efficient, and small gasoline engine that will make the Aptera emissions friendly.

GENERAL

How much will the Aptera cost?

The approximate price for the all electric version is $27,000 and the plug-in hybrid $30,000. These prices are subject to change any time before we begin production.

Why are you selling the Aptera only in California?

There are many reasons, including our dedication to seamless customer service. We will not have maintenance centers set up in other states until the expansion of our distribution as well state regulatory issues worked out. We are working hard to make the Aptera available to everyone, but in order for that to happen we need to solve any future contingencies on a regional level.

When are you starting production?

Our goal is to begin production of the all-electric in late 2008 and the hybrid in late 2009.

Can I charge my cell phone?

We will have a standard 12v outlet but are also considering a USB 2.0 jack for the production model, which can be used to charge your cell phone as well.

Are there cup holders?

Yes there are.

Will opening windows be available?

Yes the windows will open.

Is there a stereo system?

Yes, there may be several options for infotainment in the production model.

Where will the license plates go?

The rear center is designed for a back license plate. Since the Aptera is classified as an enclosed motorcycle a front plate is not required.

Can we come and take a tour of the facility?

We are in the process of setting up our production facility.  Once operations are in place, the public will be able to tour the facility.  Unfortunately, we are unable to accommodate this request at this time.  Keep checking the web site and newsletter for updates on tours.

Can I take the Aptera for a test drive?

Production of the Aptera is slated for late 2008.  Once we have begun production, test driving the Aptera will be possible.

Are there plans for a 4-seat model of any kind in the foreseeable future at even lower MPG ratings?

Once Aptera has finalized the initial production version of the typ-1 we will continue to revolutionize the transportation industry in other areas.

Will you be working to register the Aptera for tax breaks similar to what hybrid vehicles from major manufacturers receive on individual income taxes?

These Tax breaks are made available to incentives customers to buy more efficient automobiles.  Because the Aptera is a vehicle and not an automobile these Tax incentives are not applicable.  We will be working with agencies to offer these programs in the future but nothing is in place as of yet.

Will I be able to use the HOV lane?

Yes, the Aptera is a fuel efficient vehicle with three wheels that will be accepted in the HOV lanes of California.

How will it work in the snow and cold climates, I live in the mountains in CA?

The Aptera will initially be designed for common lower altitude conditions in California. However, extensive testing for winter conditions is planned for the future.

Will you be coming to Europe and other countries?

Of course, we would like to expand our operations to other countries in need of our technology as soon as possible but for now we are limiting ourselves to the California market.  Make sure you sign up for our newsletter for up to date information regarding this issue.

Will I be able to register and insure my Aptera?

Aptera is a registered vehicle manufacturer and you will have no problem registering your Aptera.  But because we’re a new manufacturer, Aptera is not yet shown in all insurance databases.  We will work with insurers in all 50 states to make sure the Aptera is listed before major production begins. As time permits, we’ll update our Aptera family members on this progress.  But in the interim, I suggest you hold fast: You will be able to easily register and insure your Aptera when the first vehicles are delivered.

What about towing an aerodynamic trailer?

The Aptera was not designed to tow.  It’s our aerodynamic shape and low weight that allows the economy and efficiency we are offering.

Why is the Aptera so noisy on the YouTube videos?

The vehicle in the YouTube video is an early prototype designed to test the vehicle’s basic performance and aerodynamics. The production Aptera will not have this issue.

What happens when an 18-wheeler passes the Aptera?

The aerodynamic shape allows air to slip seamlessly over the vehicle body, such that there is no effect when a large vehicle passes by.

Do you offer financing or a warranty?

The details of our financing and warranty are still being defined.  We will have more information on these subjects as we near full production.

Are you looking for dealers or will there be franchise opportunities?
Not at this time.

Are you publicly traded and may I buy stock?
We are a private company and not publicly traded.

What does “Aptera” mean?
Aptera is Greek for “wingless flight”.

All info from http://www.aptera.com
Scribbled on November 20th 2008 in Aptera, Miscellaneous, Video
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