Egg-shaped Aptera is no wallflower, but would you buy one?

February 17, 2009

Last week, we paid a visit to startup car company Aptera at its headquarters in Vista, California, just north of San Diego. Aside from talking to company executives, we also got to take a ride in the ultra-efficient, spaceage vehicle. Check out our complete coverage of Aptera here.

To say that the egg-shaped car, which the company will begin shipping to customers later this year, stands out on the road is a major understatement. Take a look for yourself in the video below, and let us know what you think.

Would you buy a car like this? The final price for the two-seater is expected to run between $25,000 and $40,000, and the all-electric version gets a 100 mile range per charge.

53 comments

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I’d buy it in a flash. They’re awesome and just what we need to displace consumption of fossil fuels while fostering energy security in the U.S. Coupled with V2G and smart-garage technologies electric vehicles, such as the Aptera, are the key that will unlock America’s energy future – Charge, Baby, Charge!

Yes, I’d buy one . . . and rarely ever have to buy gas again! Woo-hoo! Take that, Chavez and mid-east radicals!

Posted by Steve Johnson | Report as abusive

Would like to hear something about crash testing and safety. I can also drive a motorcycle, but don’t want to be turned into roadkill by an cell-phone preoccupied, 3-ton-SUV navigating dolt.

Posted by David | Report as abusive

I’d buy one in a New York minute. The engineering and economics are what GM, Ford and Chrysler should have been doing since the first oil shocks of the 1970′s.

It would be nice to see a (clean) diesel-electric hybrid….

Posted by Roger Tams | Report as abusive

It’s 2009…Haven’t we been waiting for a car that matches our expectations for the last 10 years? I decided 2 years ago my next car had to get 100mpg, be electric, as well as freeway worthy and safe. What’s even nicer, living in LA, my home electricity is green power already, so I can drive on wind generated electricity. Hello 21st Century. I can’t wait for October 2009.

Posted by Hasbas1 | Report as abusive

If I lived in California (where they will first be made available) and could afford to spend that much money on a car, I would buy it for sure! Not only would I save travel costs when I do home computer repairs, it would help to give my business a more futuristic image. I’d love it!

Posted by Fred | Report as abusive

Yes! I would buy one right now! GM and Ford are so set in their ways that we need manufactures like this with a fresh perspective to really move things ahead.

Posted by Russ | Report as abusive

i am handicapped and i am used to electric autos the price is out ragous but i would buy a cheaper model like in the 70 when gm scraoed 3000 electric cars because they were a threat to the gas companies

Posted by oldgeezer1956 | Report as abusive

Without a moments hesitation! I would definately love to own one of those… or, the Myer’s Motor’s NMG, or the Tesla roadster, or the Zenn… Unfortunately, I can’t. Why? Greed. Plain and simple. The “Big 3″ don’t want it to happen because they would be losing a big chunk of change when electrics hit the market and they know it. This is why they are now trying to come up with these “Rube Goldberg” hybrids so that we all still have to burn something (hydrogen, gas, deisel, money, etc…)The gas and oil refining companies will also take a hit… another reason they (north american governments)are making it difficult for any of us to get one. When I hear of Exxon and the like reporting $47 BILLION dollar profits in the middle of a recession, I think of all the money that they are pouring into the govt. coffers through thier taxes. Where is it? Where did this money go? For all that they go through, if this money was going to infrastructure, our streets would be paved in gold!
Electric cars MUST be made available.
All of them!

Posted by Jerry | Report as abusive

I would buy the Aptera if it came in all black since I
live in NY and that color would be cool here.

Posted by pfon71361 | Report as abusive

I love this car! I’d have to see how it handles freezing rain, icy and/or wet roads and sub zero temps before considering one.

Posted by hess | Report as abusive

I would buy the car, for sure, if the price isn’t out of sight. I would also volunteer to be a test-owner, evaluating the car as I go. This is really valuable if you give the right kind of feeback. Most small companies make an error with materials or “extremes” testing and must get over that hurdle to succeed.

Posted by Joseph Papai | Report as abusive

Sure I’ll buy one; when they make one that will seat more than 2 adults and has enough room to carry two weeks of groceries for a family of four. Like a previous commenter I’m also interested in seeing crash test safety data. For now they make nice novelty cars but like most alt fuel/electric vehicles are neither practical or affordable to the majority of families.

Posted by Kathleen | Report as abusive

I would buy one ! We need something besides BIG OIL ! ! ! Electric is the way to go.

Posted by Paul Thomas | Report as abusive

I’m all for the idea of an electric car, and/or cleaner, low emission vehicles, but unless the infrastructure is in place the concept is unfortunately a huge flop. First, 100 mile per charge, that’s just over the mileage of my commute per day to work and back so for me that’s cutting it a little too close if there is no place for me to recharge this thing in between. Secondly, what about the cost of replacement parts, batteries, maintenance? Who at the moment is qualified to repair one of these cars, your local mechanic? Probably not. Thirdly, where does the better part of the electricity charging the battery come from?? Coal and natural gas. So the talk of purely electric cars being “green” is pure bunk. You can put a smile on your face all you want at the thought that you’re doing the right thing and attempt to look down on people that drive SUVs and other fossil fuel driven vehicles, but in reality YOU WILL BE DOING NO BETTER for the environment. What do you think will happen if you spike the demand for electricity? They will build more coal and natural gas plants, and why? Because they’re cheaper and more efficient producers of electricity than wind and solar. So what exactly is so green about that? Not to mention that you have to subsidize the heck out of these two technologies to even make them affordable and profitable. Your taxes just went up to make up for the difference. So in fact, you’re probably making things worse. It will cost trillions of dollars for us to even make a dent in the switch to greener energy sources, that is a fact. Where will that money come from? The only true way to make this electric cars work is for people to finally warm up to the fact that NUCLEAR IS THE ONLY WAY FORWARD. Wind and solar will be bigger flops than ethanol if we invest big in them right now. They are just NOT EFFICIENT. Money should be pumped into basic research to improve them first before we wholesale adopt them. Smart grid technologies, more efficient lighting and equipment, and conservation. These are the changes that need to happen now. Pardon the pun, but the engine that drives that change should be firing on all cylinders. Don’t get me wrong, I applaud the efforts of the manufacturer of the car and we should definitely continue to develop it. However, right now there are many ways to better spend $25-40K.

Posted by Danny | Report as abusive

It is a fact that the aptera charges very quickly on a 100v circuit, no infrastructure need be in place. I am a proud veteran willing to state our dependence on oil must end. The electric car is way more efficient than the gas in CO2 even counting emmissions from the power plant because the electricity is mass produced, not all from coal plants and new clean coal plants the Obama Administration will require will drop the CO2 of even a coal plant charge to less than 3% of burning gas in your SUV. I dont want my children to come back disabled like I did, only to be treated like 200000 other veterans fighting for promised benefits so exxon can make 40 billion per quarter. I hope everyone who can buys an Aptera. I drive a Prius and love it, but will love driving an Aptera even more. I hope the censuring moderator doesnt drop this comment, I fought for our country, free speach and everything in this comment is truth!

Posted by James Ellis | Report as abusive

I would have a reservation for one right now, if they took reservations from outside CA. 60% of hybrids are sold in CA, but 50% of the remaining 40% are in OR and WA. Aptera should look hard at OR and WA ASAP.

Posted by Big Sven | Report as abusive

@Danny:

The fact that your commute is over 100 miles confirms that you don’t care about sustainable living to begin with; you are not the target market for a vehicle like this.

Your point on nuclear invalidates your coal/gas-fired plant argument. As it stands, both gas cars and electric cars indeed create pollution, as you state. However, the electric grid can be made more earth-friendly through other channels, such as more nuclear plants, extension of credits for efficient solar technologies such as molten salt collection towers (YES, this is an efficient and emerging solar technology!), and home-grid power generation. Gas cars will always emit CO2 and wreck the environment.

As far as subsidizing clean-tech to make it profitable, the only reason coal, gas, and nuclear are currently profitable is economies of scale. Without proper subsidizing, the internet would have died an early death, too. You need to help the kinds of industries you want in their beginnings if they are ever to grow to support themselves. You don’t think nuclear energy was funded by the government in its early days?

This car is great, and it will sell out in California shortly after release. The hybrid version, with a motor that only is used to recharge the battery (not spin the drive train) will extend the range to the same as your Honda Civic.

This car, however, will NOT work in cold, icy climates. The wheel wells are designed for aerodynamic efficiency, and will clog up with slush and ice in bad conditions. You know that gray snow/ice block that forms in your wheel well in the slush? That will stop this car cold. It would need mods, which would reduce (but not eliminate) the car’s efficiency.

Crash testing has been done; visit the aptera website for some details.

Posted by Josh | Report as abusive

While I definitely agree that nuclear energy, Danny, I disagree that going for electric cars is bad for the environment because they use coal-fired plants. Sure, they CAN use energy derived from that point, but they don’t have to. You could invest in solar panels if you really wanted to. With regular cars, however, there is no alternative. You HAVE to use oil. Ethanol was a flop, like you said. So why not go for a “car” that can at least change its source of energy when the government does come around?

Obviously I’d like the price of this “car” to come down, but that’s the price of investing in new technology, and if WE don’t do it, who will? The first generation iPhones are known for the bugs that would inevitably wait to surface after the release. If everyone knew that, why would they wait in long lines to get it? Because they supported the concept. It was those early adopters that paid the way financially for Apple to continue developing their iPhone line and eventually improve it. That’s what need to happen here, with batteries. With renewable energy. It won’t be the best for us, necessarily. But at least it isn’t a road that dead-ends in the hands of international terrorists.

Posted by Aaron | Report as abusive

The premise is perfect, but distribution and service are massive obstacles for start up independents. Bloggers above may complain about moving the energy source from petrofuel to petro generated power, but the cost to recharge the HUGE batteries in an electric forklift is about $2-$3 per recharge. The actual thermal efficiency of gasoline and diesel engines is about 35% to 40%. The efficiency of the power plants is far higher.
Trip range can be greatly increased once batteries are built to a yet to be written SAE standard. Then battery exchange stations can exist. For now, there is no best or standard battery, so that comes later. I hope that the time has come for light electric vehicles to succeed.

Posted by Ironsanctuary | Report as abusive

No way I’d buy one! Too expensive, and unless the highly volatile batteries are curb side desposible, this vehicle isn’t any more eviromentally sound then my ford! Plus, unless it runs 450 miles per charge, and cost the same as a gasoline vehicle, then it is a niche car, for niche people.

Make a alternative fuel car for the people, not the elite!

Posted by me | Report as abusive

I love the Aptera, and plan to buy one. Can’t wait to get it. In my opinion, it IS better for the environment – check out their website. Love the gas mileage – 300 mpg is definitely worthwhile. What’s not to like?

I love, Love LOVE IT!

Posted by Phoenix | Report as abusive

James:

There needs to be an ‘infrastructure’ of sorts. People who live in apartments or have to park on the street don’t necessarily have access to an outlet. I don’t think that is insurmountable as the early buyers will be people who CAN plug in and if there is enough demand; cities, apartment complexes, businesses, etc will provide ‘charging stations’ with some way of paying for your watts. This is a ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ type thing.

And thank you for your service.

Posted by Bruce | Report as abusive

Josh,
I wouldn’t worry about the snow packing in the wheel wells, it happens in EVERY car and they keep moving, just no clearance when you hit a bump :) The Aptera (at least front) might actually be better since the entire wheel pod is mounted on the suspension, rather than the wheel moving up an down in the well like most vehicles (at least as far as I can tell from the pictures and video). I have to clean the crud out on a regular basis, usually when I get where I am going before it has a chance to freeze into a solid block. Certainly the distance you can drive on a charge will be less, but that is no different than your MPG going down when you slog through snow.
My concern is drive and handling in snow. I’m not sure that pushing the mass forward through the snow from a single rear wheel will be a ‘good thing’.

Posted by Bruce | Report as abusive

Let’s see…hmmm…no gasoline, no oil changes, no transmission service, no periodic tune-ups, and I can generate my own fuel on my house roof (as I have been doing for the last 10 years). So we take away the ongoing revenue stream from the automakers (repairs are 1/3 of their income), and we can stop sucking at the teat of the oil companies. Anybody question why e-cars are not being supported by the companies that have run this country for decades?

Posted by Greg Brewsaugh | Report as abusive

With the Aptera priced in the mid $20′s it is affordable, coupled with a range just of 100 miles and most people’s range well under 50 miles per day, it’s a bit of a stretch to down right dishonest to say this is not a car for ‘the people’. Which people are you talking about ‘me’? Is there a group of people this car is not a good fit for, yup. The group of people this car is a good fit for though is equally as large. And that, that definitely makes this car a vehicle for the people.

Posted by shawn | Report as abusive

This vehicle has all the features I would love in my car…great gas mileage, environmentally friendly, roomy and safe. This seems great to do my many errands in, much more fun than my giant SUV. I need to put in my order!!!

Posted by jean | Report as abusive

I drive 107 miles one way to work… at 100 miles per charge I will need to push this thing the last 7 miles to my work place.
As battery technology improves I might consider such a vehicle.

Posted by pobept | Report as abusive

This car looks great! I’d love to get one. While some posters are right that most electricity is created from ‘dirty’ power plants, there are alternatives. I’m hoping to put some solar panels on top of my house… then I would be charging my car from free and clean solar power. Gotta open our minds to doing things a different way. It’s exciting and the technology is here now!

Posted by Peter | Report as abusive

to Kathleen:
Look at the Aptera website aptera.com. if you click on the live section and scroll don and see it, then it would have enough space for 14 more bags of groceries. I think that is enough to support a family of 4 for 2 weeks! :)

Posted by Bob Travolta | Report as abusive

As a a pilot and engineer, I appreciate the elegance of the Aptera, but I’m disappointed in the decision to offer only an battery-powered version. Make it a hybrid, and I’ll take one! A range of only 100 miles, coupled with a re-charge time measured in hours is flat-out impractical for any but a small handful of mostly-urban drivers who never wander too far from home. Out here in the Texas Hill Country a 100-mile round trip wouldn’t get me to the grocery store and back. Give me a 300 mile range, and let me “refuel” in minutes instead of hours and you’ve got a deal! Heck, I’ll take two!

Posted by El Alumbrado | Report as abusive

I would definetly buy it for 25,000 dollars if the charge was less than the price of gas for the 100 miles

to El Alumbrado:
Actually the company plans to release a hybrid and a gas version of the aptera 2e in the future :)

Posted by Bob Travolta | Report as abusive

What happened to the hybrid version of this car?!!

That one was going to give drivers 300 miles per gallon. Can somebody tell me how that got canned?

Posted by Anthony | Report as abusive

heck yea I’d drive that baby! It looks awesome :)

Posted by BD | Report as abusive

The 2E – Electric, out in 2009. The 2H – Hybrid, out in 2010. (That’s the 300mpg one.) My current car is a 10yr-old luxury supercharger … I’m taking care of it because it’s my last one. I WILL NEVER BUY ANOTHER REGULAR GAS VEHICLE – why? It’s just the same s@%! in a different box… I wish I could get an Aptera 2h in 2010, but I will definitely only finance/purchase/make payments on electric, hybrid, alternative fuel vehicles. If I’m going to make car payments, I wanna be runnin’ on sunshine! LAS VEGAS has plenty!

Posted by B in Las Vegas | Report as abusive

would love one hybrid. live in montana & hope to see one within the near future.

have been following the progress for over a year with growing hope. please get them out to the real people soon.

Posted by Steven | Report as abusive

If the 100 mile range is a deal breaker there is always the 130-300mpg hybrid that Aptera plans to sell starting in 2010. Most people buying an all electric car will buy it as a second car and will keep their old gas car in the garage to collect dust between long distance road trips. There is a good honest debate if gas, diesel, nuclear, or coal is the greenist/least bad alternative to cost prohibitive energy sources like solar. Plugging a gas hog SUV into the electric grid will just turn an oil problem into an electric problem, but energy efficient vehicles like the Aptera actually reduce the energy consumption not just change the type of energy we are addicted to. Last but not least both coal, nuclear, and renewable green energy are all domestic sources of energy. The money we have spent on oil over our lifetimes has pumped cash into countries like Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Russia, and Venezuela

Posted by Andrew | Report as abusive

Great city car and its perfect for Southern California. This is not the perfect car for every situation, but it is a start. There is a segment of the population that will drive this car on a regular basis. This will put a tiny dent in gas use, not much right now but the dent will get larger.

Posted by Sally Richey | Report as abusive

I am skeptical.

I would invite those interested in this new electric car design to goggle the Sinclair C5, the “revolutionary” electric car developed in Britain in the early 1980s. It has gone down in the history of innovation as an unmitigated disaster.

The reminders between the Aptera and the C5 relate to size. I can find no data showing the height of the Aptera nor photos or video showing the Aptera against a normal car or SUV, but get the impression it is small and low. I cannot imagine anyone in Southern California wanting to drive this on a freeway, and frankly, unless you’re willing to drive the freeways you’re not going anywhere these days in SoCal. SUVs tend to get driven by women as they are perceived as safe. So the Aptera is unlikely to appeal to women.

It is also a two-seater. So that rules out families.

Some people claim it will be bought as a second or third car, and that it saves running costs. Maybe, but with a $25,000+ price-tag both those markets (economy vehicle and extra vehicle) are shrinking daily as the economic crisis worsens.

Right now I only see it having appeal to a small potential target market of well-off innovators, who will buy it on principle. There may be 4,000 of them, but I think it’s going to take a long, long time (if ever) before the Aptera ramps up to the 100,000 volume level they are talking about.

Posted by Innovator | Report as abusive

Will there be an 18 wheeler version? I would like to see a bigger range of bold ideas for powering the nation’s fleet of long-haul trucks so truckers don’t go broke next time fuel prices spike.

Posted by B | Report as abusive

$25,000 for a car that goes 100 miles before a long recharge? Bet most that come out will be priced closer to $40,000 to maximize the profit.

Those who just have to have one will get one. Me, I’ll buy a Toyota Corolla for around $15,000 + and pocket the difference. Saving the difference would take way too many years. Now if they could produce one for around $10,000 they could sell as many as they want.

Don’t think it will catch on. Wish it would. It’s a neat looking car. For people that think only a tank is safe, it won’t sell.

Posted by Jim | Report as abusive

Interested in the remark that if someone commutes a lot they don’t care. My wife used to work across the street from where we lived. One day the school district transferred her to a school 60 miles away, no choice. So she didn’t care? No she had no choice. I let her retire early rather than commute 120 miles a day and the school district lost most of their good people with the stupid things they did. So, don’t blame people for long commutes, part of the blame may not be any choice they made. Now if we fined employers and supervisors for dumb choices they make, we might be getting somewhere.

Posted by Oren | Report as abusive

I would buy the hybrid in a heartbeat. It has all I want in a small car.
1. It’s a gas mouse.

2. It has decent performance (If the accel curve and handling are similar to the electric).

3. It looks cool.

I would, however, not buy any pure electric car. I cannot bring myself to be grid-dependant for transportation in case of an emergency. If I can’t drive it away from the hurricane, I won’t buy it.

Yes, I would buy one. In fact, my production slot is 1947. The reservation fee of $500 is fully refundable at any time, and goes to the purchase price. I’m looking for the no-frills all-electric 2e, which by the way includes a lot of standard frills. The price is comparable to a Honda Civic Hybrid, but of course it only seats two (plus a child seat). The thing is that most people don’t need more car than this most of the time, and you can rent a car for those other times. They have a lot of info on their website, including complete specs (like height). If you live in a cold climate, the batteries may not perform as well. I understand that it will come in various colors – I want red. Also, I’ve compared to the other electric cars out there, and this one is the best thought out, the closest to reality and the most economical. Finally, many thanks to James Ellis for his service to our country.

Posted by Shamus Thornton | Report as abusive

i would also consider the Zap Alias , another cool three wheeler !!!!

Posted by robert | Report as abusive

Ok, heres a British viewpoint

This is just theory, but if everyone in america went out a bought an electric car tomorrow, then where would you get the power from? I am sure you wouldn’t have enough power stations for your country to add 8 full hours of charge every night in addition to the power you need in every day life? Your national grid couldn’t cope?
So then you’d be like china, having to build a power station every week, nuclear or coal fired?!!!!

Surely this idea is only eligible for a select few?

We developed the Sinclair C5 electric car/buggy I think it was in the 1980′s – it was the most famous flop in history.

And the car covers 100 miles? If it runs out of charge/breaks down, then assuming recovery trucks come to collect it – to take it to a power point for 8 hours? Then is the owner going to wait there for 8 hours – no they’ll get someone to collect them.

Maybe the idea for america is like the one we have in Europe. Do you really need 6litre, 5litre, 4litre, 3litre or even 2 litre engines under your feet? We have engine sizes from 500cc (half a litre) to 1.5 litre family cars, and they work!!!!

Posted by Julian Norton | Report as abusive

I’m production slot #333 and I am hoping my 7 year old Prius will last long enough for my next car (or should I say motorcycle) will be an Aptera.

The British raise and interesting point. How many Aptera’s can be charged every day with the existing energy infrastructure?

Let’s assume that all Aptera’s will be charged at night to take advantage of excess generation capacity. Note that we do not need to make this assumption, because most of the day the grid has considerable extra capacity, see reference #1 below.

Between the hours of midnight and 5AM, power consumption is approximately 1/10 the peak day-time use, which means that at least 90% of generating capacity is available for charging in those hours. (all sources of data are below)

The US generates 4.167 Trillion KWH per year of electricity and the average consumption level is about half the peak consumption level. This means the US has at least 950 MW national generating capacity.

Recharging an Aptera is likely to consume about 10 KWh on average.

Therefore considering only the 5 hours between midnight and 5AM, the current US electrical grid has the capacity to recharge 475 million Apteras every night.

I guess the electrical grid is not a problem after all.

The $20-40K price range includes both the electric (cheaper) and the hybrid (more expensive) versions.

http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/publications/ html/FSEC-PF-300-96/images/image79.gif
http://flagcounter.com/factbook/us
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aptera_hybr id_car

Posted by Scott | Report as abusive

I cannot wait!

Posted by Hudson | Report as abusive

Yes, I would buy one. Unfortunately, they won’t sell to non-California residents. Yet, they say. At the moment, I chafe impatiently.

I can ‘reserve’ one of any number of electric vehicles, many of which are as likely as not to be vaporware? Meanwhile, my fuel budget is annoyingly high, even with the now-lower cost of gas in the US. Back at peak prices (which we’re unlikely to see in the next few years at least) my fuel bill would have covered the cost of a car payment.

Posted by chris | Report as abusive

I’m looking forward to the day either the hybrid or the electric car is available in TN.

Lack of seating for four hurts the ability for families to use it, but they could do it with two. Price should be <$18k if seating isn’t increased to five. Otherwise, the Aptera won’t be used for family outings. It’s still unbeatable as a daily driver work vehicle. $200/year is a very nice operational cost.

Posted by Jason foley | Report as abusive

For those of you that have power grid issues, you can always purchase a solar array that totally eliminates dependance on the grid. I’m #2642 on the production list and anxiously await my Aptera.

Posted by Don Medaris | Report as abusive

#2081 for the all-electic. I commute about 40 miles round-trip each day. I do some around town travel as well. My wife also needs a car, so that will be the “family” car and used for trips. But why have 2 “family” sized vehicles for the rare times when needed. Much better to just rent a van for those exceptions. I hope to get a bit of solar on my roof when I can finally get this, but saving for Aptera purchase first.

Posted by Alfred Anderson | Report as abusive