This Carlsbad, California, start-up company has unveiled the production version of its 3- wheel, 200 mpg-plus 2e and recently obtained private funding to move the project closer to dealerships.
Aptera President and CEO Paul Wilbur says the company is awaiting the U.S. Department of Energy’s decision on Aptera’s application for a $184-million loan from the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program.
“We completed the first close of our recent round of funding last month, and one more financing hurdle remains,” Wilbur states. “When it’s complete, it will take about 11 months to start our full-volume launch next year.”
Manufacturing will be based in a 200,000-square-foot facility in Oceanside, California, and create 500 new jobs. As production ramps up, that number will likely increase by 2000. Adding supplier employees to that total, Wilbur estimates that Aptera production will add 12,500 jobs to the labor market.
What they will be creating is the Aptera 2e, a 3-wheel machine classified as a motorcycle, but with some design elements of an earth-bound airplane. It’s the nose, front wheel spats and tricycle layout that give that impression as the 2e drives toward you, despite the lack of wings and propellers. From the back, it’s a pure aerodynamic exercise.
Aptera’s big story is in the electric drivetrain that combines the equipment of such firms as General Electric and Borg Warner with lithium-ion nano-phosphate batteries from 123 Systems. In the 1800-lb. composite-bodied 2e, the 110-horsepower, 232 lb.-ft. of torque electric drive system has a claimed range of 100 miles. Recharging time from full discharge is set at 6 to 11 hours. The front-drive machine is said to reach 60 mph in 9.0 seconds.
Still, the 2e is also quite usable. You enter through butterfly-style doors that were part of the refining process for the production 2e. Not only do they now have conventional up-down windows, but the doors have been reshaped to make entry and exit easier.
Once in the Aptera, you feel as though you are in a nicely designed small car. And all the safety systems are in place from belts to airbags. Behind you is a luggage area that will accommodate several bags…including the all-important golfbags.
Chief Engineer of the 2e is Tom Reichenbach, who was the Vehicle Engineering Manager on the Ford GT. Among the firms he enlisted to help with the Aptera is well-known race team Pratt & Miller, which helped optimize the design and aided with finite element analysis.
Immediately after the press conference announced the production 2e, it was shipped to Michigan to compete for the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize. This competition pits 40 teams from 11 countries to prove it is possible to create a production- ready vehicle that can achieve 100 mpg.