In the mid-2000s, a company by the name of Aptera proposed a hyper-efficient commuter car sporting three wheels and a body that looked more like an aeroplane than a car. Then the global financial crisis hit and any chance of securing funding for the project dried up.
Aptera folded in 2011 and remained dormant until 2019 when the original founders, who managed to keep hold of all the intellectual property, revived Aptera and its plans for a three-wheeler. Naturally, the technology has moved on, and Aptera’s claims for its modern three-wheeler are much more ambitious than before.
While there were plans for hybrid and electric options before, Aptera is now focused purely on the latter. The company uses in-wheel motors that deliver approximately 70 hp each, with the vehicle to have a front-wheel-drive option (a motor in each of the front wheels) for ultimate efficiency and an all-wheel-drive option (with a third motor in the rear wheel) for performance fans.
The most efficient configuration is claimed to deliver up to 1,000 miles of range on a charge, while the performance option should be able to deliver 0-60 mph acceleration in 3.5 seconds and a top speed of 110 mph. The slowest version will still be brisk with a 0-60 time of 5.5 seconds. That performance is helped along by a claimed drag coefficient of 0.13 Cd. Note, the vehicle uses cameras instead of side mirrors to help reduce drag, a feature that is not yet legal in the U.S.
The battery is located in the floor of the two-seat cabin and will have multiple size options. The smallest battery will deliver up to 250 miles only, the company says on its website. Interestingly, Aptera wants to offer customers the option of a solar panel covering the rear of the vehicle. Aptera said the solar panel should be able to deliver up to 40 miles of range per day for the most efficient model, which means some owners will never have to charge their vehicle. Of course, this will be dependant on how much sunlight is available.
Jay Leno recently checked out an early development mule for the vehicle for an episode of “Jay Leno’s Garage.”
The development mule is what’s known in the industry as an Alpha build. The next stage, which Aptera hopes to have completed by the end of the year, is to develop a more advanced Beta build which the company can use for crash testing. Next comes pre-production and finally production, which Aptera hopes to achieve in 2022.
Pricing for the three-wheeler starts at just $25,900 and the range-topping model tops out at $50,700. Aptera claims to already have over 10,000 reservations.
This article was originally published by Motor Authority, an editorial partner of ClassicCars.com.
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