Aptera Motors, an American startup company based in San Diego, California, recently announced a new three-wheeled electric car with a range of up to 1,000 miles. If you have at least one eyebrow raised in skepticism, you’re not alone. That’s because no other auto company, not even market leader Tesla, has come up with a vehicle close to this range. The catch? You can charge the car’s 100 kWh battery from an electrical outlet, but also while driving or parked thanks to its solar harvesting roof.
A solar batmobile
Electric vehicles have been bashed by skeptics for a number of reasons since they rose to prominence in the past decade. Two arguments usually come to mind. One is their limited range compared to a conventional petrol car on a full tank of gas, the other is environmental, with many critics highlighting the irony of buying a car to “go green” while charging using electricity from a coal-powered plant.
But with dramatic improvements in battery technology and rapid developments in charging infrastructure, as well as phenomenal deployments of wind and solar energy (The solar PV annual market could reach about 150 GW – an increase of almost 40% in just three years), these arguments are becoming obsolete.
Sales of electric cars topped 2.1 million globally in 2019, surpassing 2018 – already a record year – to boost the stock to 7.2 million electric cars and marking a 40% year-to-year increase.
Clearly, a lot of people love EVs, whose market is an increasing expansion. But those who are still not happy with their range or about the source of their charging electricity may find Aptera’s concept appealing. Previously, Aptera folded in 2011 after failing to secure a $150 million loan to produce its Aptera 2e vehicle.
Instead of a sedan or SUV, Aptera Motors designed a three-wheeled electric vehicle that is all about efficiency. The composite materials and the streamlined shape makes the three-wheeled vehicle light, compact, and fast.
According to the company, Aptera’s curvy vehicle has a drag coefficient of just 0.13, compared to 0.23 for Tesla’s Model 3 or 0.28 for Volkswagen’s ID 4. This highly efficient use of energy enables the car to travel up to 1,000 miles on a single charge.
What’s more, the vehicle is covered in solar panels which would offer an additional 40 miles of range per day, depending on where in the world you park or drive it.
Preorders for Aptera’s Paradigm and Paradigm Plus models are open now for a price tag ranging between $25,900 and $46,000. The company expects to deliver them by the end of 2021. So far, the company has raised nearly $1.5 million from small private investors.
Tibi is a science journalist and co-founder of ZME Science. He writes mainly about emerging tech, physics, climate, and space. In his spare time, Tibi likes to make weird music on his computer and groom felines.