The Aptera
June 26, 2008 8:11 PM   Subscribe

Welcome To The Future Where we drive around in things like this and get 230 miles to the gallon, all for under 30k.
posted by socalsamba (69 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Nifty.
posted by empath at 8:16 PM on June 26, 2008


there are a lot of vapor-cars out there, aren't there?
posted by HuronBob at 8:22 PM on June 26, 2008


Coling Soon to Paleo-Future!
posted by not_on_display at 8:23 PM on June 26, 2008


In the future, that's how you'll spell coming, too.
posted by not_on_display at 8:24 PM on June 26, 2008


The design is obviously not sleek enough, not futuristic enough.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:24 PM on June 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


The biggest question, that will likely determine if I consider buying one when they exist is whether they are crash-tested as a car or as a motorcycle. I haven't yet seen a definite answer besides the three-wheels argument for the motorcycle interpretation.
posted by Skorgu at 8:26 PM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Seriously, what's stopping a company from selling a one-box electric conversion kit? Just throw a motor, batterys, and all the wiring and instructions in one box for people to convert their cars to electric. Granted, it's not going to get amazing range or break speed records, but it would take down a major obstacle for EV conversions, which is to get all the parts together and find half decent instructions.
posted by hellojed at 8:26 PM on June 26, 2008


Wake me when I can tour the production facility.
posted by carsonb at 8:27 PM on June 26, 2008


*batteries....
posted by hellojed at 8:27 PM on June 26, 2008


Seriously, what's stopping a company from selling a one-box electric conversion kit?

Such things are for sale (though I've never seen the batteries included, because they would be very expensive to ship). It isn't as simple as it sounds, as different parts are required for different cars, so they are generally only available for a specific model. A lot of work goes into the conversion, so it isn't suited for most people (and it would cost a lot to have a mechanic do it). EV conversions are fine for some, but I think the majority of people will prefer a car they don't have to convert. After all, most people don't just swap engines on their cars.
posted by ssg at 8:38 PM on June 26, 2008


That Aptera site crashed the hell out of my browser.
posted by nanojath at 8:39 PM on June 26, 2008


I wish that I believed, I really do. But I think this is a vapor car, as HuronBob says.
posted by LarryC at 8:43 PM on June 26, 2008


All this OMG WE BETTER HURRY UP NOW THAT OUR ECONOMIC BALLS ARE IN A FOSSIL FUEL VICE stuff is great, don't get me wrong, but technologies like the ones we're seeing so much about lately should have been The Past, and by now we should be cruising around in our autopiloted flying cars, sucking down Mint Juleps cooled by refrigerators powered by the limitless free clean energy from fusion reactors, unconcerned about the liver damage because we've got stem-cell-seeded extra organs sitting in the autodoc in our bathroom for when we need them. And sexy robot assistants, too.

Goddamn it.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:43 PM on June 26, 2008 [11 favorites]


I just saw this for the first time a few days ago. It's the first time I was really taken by an efficient car. So many are severely limited in terms of speed, range, and price. The fact that you can take this on the highway is a big plus in my eyes. If GM, Ford, etc. want to bounce back, it might be a good idea for them to get these guys.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 8:46 PM on June 26, 2008


My kid's soccer team will not fit in there.
posted by stargell at 8:47 PM on June 26, 2008


I think we just need to build monorails.
posted by Dave Faris at 8:54 PM on June 26, 2008


stargell: "My kid's soccer team will not fit in there."

Heck, it doesn't even look like a weeks worth of groceries and cat food would fit in there. Which as a city dweller is the main reason I own a car. If I'm just moving myself around, I can walk or take the bus but I need a car to haul shit around.
posted by octothorpe at 8:58 PM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


@ Skorgu "With safety being our top priority, we have raised our standard beyond the requirements of a typical passenger car." Thats taken from the Aptera website. Seems pretty straight forward that it is being tested as a passenger car and not a motorcycle.
posted by rydogg at 9:02 PM on June 26, 2008


I don't own a car, and yet my first thought upon looking at his was, "shit... I guess I have to move to California now?"

My second thought was that as soon as these come out, and we get video of the first one crashing, we're bound to see a lot of network news spi on whether the crash was caused by the three wheels, or the destruction by the alternative fuel system, and a lot of other things which will bear only passing relation to science, and then they'll all cut to they're GM ads.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:11 PM on June 26, 2008 [6 favorites]


Heck, it doesn't even look like a weeks worth of groceries and cat food would fit in there. Which as a city dweller is the main reason I own a car. If I'm just moving myself around, I can walk or take the bus but I need a car to haul shit around.

Seems comparable to, if not larger than, a Miata - and I've been just fine with mine for myself and the girlfriend's shopping trips. It's obviously not going to work as an only vehicle for larger families, but it's a step.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 9:11 PM on June 26, 2008


Where we drive around in things like this and get 230 miles to the gallon, all for under 30k...

...and die horribly if we're in even a low speed crash.

That thing can't be legally sold in the US; it won't pass the safety standards.
posted by Class Goat at 9:21 PM on June 26, 2008


...and die horribly if we're in even a low speed crash.

I think that the energy problems will eventually get to a point where people have to give up carrying around 10-20x their weight in armor and instead plan on not crashing.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:24 PM on June 26, 2008 [6 favorites]


Yes I would also like the Naboo Spacefighter Power Wheels car.
It really is very cute and we deserve far, far less cuteness for our nonsustainable past.
posted by cowbellemoo at 9:28 PM on June 26, 2008


My boss who has a ~60 mile daily commute put a deposit on one of these things. He expects delivery in a year and a half and is very excited about it. Last week he showed me the website with their promotional video of the thing in action, the first thing that came out of my mouth was "So you're going to be driving a big sperm around?" He wasn't very amused.
posted by aGee at 9:41 PM on June 26, 2008


How will I be able to set tile out of one of these things?
Will it carry a ton of tile and tools up a mountain pass?
Heck, will it carry more than one person and a bag of groceries?
Looks like I'm stuck with a gas burning pickup truck.
posted by Balisong at 9:42 PM on June 26, 2008


Heck, it doesn't even look like a weeks worth of groceries and cat food would fit in there.

...and die horribly if we're in even a low speed crash.


Helps to RTFA.
posted by DoctorFedora at 9:51 PM on June 26, 2008


Those are all salient points, Balisong and crew, but look at this from aGee's boss' point of view. There are a lot of people with similar stories in California. They're driving a lot of 20-25mpg sedans (not to mention 7-12mpg SUVs) that will soon be doing a damn sight less commuting twice a day because this ugly new thing is will be might someday be cheap, safer than a motorcycle, and worth an efficient order of magnitude.
posted by carsonb at 9:54 PM on June 26, 2008


I love how the car of the future always has asstarded doors that open up or diagonally or in some other teenage-boy-impressing way that's guaranteed to dump three gallons of gritty rainwater on you if you happen to be parking in a mild storm. It's also nice that, in the future, you won't ever need or want to open your window, even when the summer sun is raging and that ridiculous aircraft canopy is making you feel like an ant under a magnifying glass. At least you'll be slim from never stopping at a McDonalds drive-through window.

They already made the car of the future 53 years ago and it was a world apart from this pointlessly swoopy, ridiculous proof that real design is a rare commodity now that "designers" now start out in pure CAD and never bother to master the basics of materials engineering and simple functionality.

Overdesigned, posturing, needlessly "gee-whiz," and an aimless rendition on a theme that was a lot cuter the first time around (and had four speeds in reverse, no less). What's worse, it repeats old mistakes of the HMV Freeway without actually being inexpensive to compensate.

This future thing isn't what it used to be.
posted by sonascope at 10:12 PM on June 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


For all the safety naysayers, have you seen a bad F1 crash recently? the deformable energy absorbing material in the nose and tail of the car, combined with the rigid carbon fiber 'safety cell' make this car a much better vehicle to be in a wreck in than any body on frame truck or suv. Most people seem to think in terms of car vs. car, but the bridge abutment always wins. and when the solid object wins, all that stiff strong structure is bad news for the fleshbag piloting the thing.

From what I've seen, this car isn't vaporware. everything they claim, from Cd to curb weight to structure is all very feasible if your willing to take the compromises that the aerodynamics force upon you and the expense of building a carbon fiber car. I'm less sure about the series hybrid version being produced, but they'll at least make 10 of the electric only versions.

Unless someone comes out of nowhere with a super battery, aptera is my favorite to win the automotive x-prize. They're directly targeting the problem, weight and aerodynamics. no matter how efficient the drivetrain, weight and drag determine the minimum energy that has to be put into the system.
posted by TheJoven at 10:13 PM on June 26, 2008


All my life, I have searched for a car that feels a certain way. Powerful like a gorilla, yet soft and yielding like a Nerf ball. Now, at last, I have found it.
posted by stavrogin at 10:28 PM on June 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


Seriously, what's stopping a company from selling a one-box electric conversion kit? Just throw a motor, batterys, and all the wiring and instructions in one box for people to convert their cars to electric.

Well, what makes you think they're not? Why didn't you try some research, like typing "electric car conversion kit" into google?
posted by delmoi at 10:31 PM on June 26, 2008


sonascope, the DS was great, but you have to agree the Mini was an even greater achievement. There is genuinely room for four adults in a mini, the car weighs hardly anything, and even in 850 bog standard form was a fun car to drive.

The new Mini, in comparison, is a bloated slug, as big and far heavier than a mid size sedan would have been back then.

I, too, wonder why anything that's "green" or fuel efficient these days is made butt-ugly. This isn't an accident.
posted by maxwelton at 10:44 PM on June 26, 2008


Heck, it doesn't even look like a weeks worth of groceries and cat food would fit in there. Which as a city dweller is the main reason I own a car. If I'm just moving myself around, I can walk or take the bus but I need a car to haul shit around.

Goddamnit, have you learned nothing at all from cartoons? This car will create the demand for the sexy robot assistants - the ones that can carry a barbecue with one hand and walk the dog with the other, all powered by the Buddy Fusion® cell in their asses. If we have small cars that are cool, someone else will have to carry the shit. The sexy robots are that someone else.
posted by jimmythefish at 10:55 PM on June 26, 2008


Wouldn't it just be easier to build a lightweight car out of carbon fiber, in a nice sporty shape like a Lotus or something, and stuff batteries and electric bits into that?

oh yeah, they did.
posted by davejay at 11:06 PM on June 26, 2008


I hear ZAP! is selling these cars taking pre-orders.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:09 PM on June 26, 2008


It took me all of three minutes to read the FAQ and look at the pictures, people. It has windows that roll down, AC, Radio, multiple video screens like KITT, and a trunk big enough for a hit man to shove his unlucky cargo in. It's a two seater and probably not usefull as "work truck" or a "rape van", if anybody was so inclined to think they could use it for either.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:10 PM on June 26, 2008 [8 favorites]


Only now that the age of oil is ending have I developed a taste for sports cars. All my life, I hardly paid big roaring machines any notice, but now that they're on the way out, I just wanna jump in something big and loud and mean and drive that motherfucker sideways.

I fully believe that a big part of cracking the car problem as fuel grows ever more scarce will be the wide release of a fuel-efficient car that looks completely badass. We need a vehicle that will excite people who don't care about conservation. Never underestimate the persuasive power of Awesome. It tends to work a lot quicker than Worry.

I'm not sure if the Aptera quite completes that aesthetics challenge. For my part, if a vehicle that really did get 230 miles to the gallon was released, I'd drive it even if it looked like a big carbon fiber dildo.
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:17 PM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Probably not useful for rape van.
posted by jimmythefish at 11:29 PM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think that the energy problems will eventually get to a point where people have to give up carrying around 10-20x their weight in armor and instead plan on not crashing.

I don't think I've heard of anyone except a suicide who does plan on crashing. Yet crashes happen hundreds of thousands of times per year in this country. And even with "armor", 35,000 people are killed in those crashes per year.

In my lifetime I've been in four crashes, and I didn't plan any of them.
posted by Class Goat at 12:01 AM on June 27, 2008


if a vehicle that really did get 230 miles to the gallon was released, I'd drive it even if it looked like a big carbon fiber dildo.

Well, you're in luck...
posted by dersins at 12:11 AM on June 27, 2008


Does it also run on Pepsi Blue?
posted by slater at 1:15 AM on June 27, 2008


Will people design cities around these?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 3:11 AM on June 27, 2008


So the car of the future is the Reliant Regal? Who knew?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:34 AM on June 27, 2008


Cool car. Does Astro come with it?
posted by dasheekeejones at 3:50 AM on June 27, 2008


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.


Also says it will fit "15 grocery bags" but since it's also "classified as a motorcycle" I wouldn't push that too far.
posted by DU at 4:14 AM on June 27, 2008


I want it all. Why can't scientist figure that out?
posted by Senator at 4:49 AM on June 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Jane, stop this crazy thing!
posted by Dave Faris at 5:09 AM on June 27, 2008


I, too, wonder why anything that's "green" or fuel efficient these days is made butt-ugly. This isn't an accident.

You're right, it isn't an accident. This car was purposefully designed using CFD to reduce drag as much as possible. That's a big part of where the huge boost in fuel efficiency comes from.

Not to say that I don't also agree with you (though I actually think this particular car looks cool rather than ugly). Carmakers have been pushing horribly ugly designs (Honda Insight anyone?) that seem designed to turn people away from the "green" market. Me and my friends in college always said that if they made an electric car that looked like a freaking car, and not some bizarre free-form modernist wet dream, they would see sales go through the roof. I have no problem with bizarre free-form modernist wet dreams, but the vast majority of other Americans seem to hate them. The big automakers appear to have finally caught on to that, especially as they're seeing sales of SUVs and trucks tank.

But, back to what I was saying before, I'm pretty sure that the whole point of the Aptera is to have such an absurdly high level of efficiency that people can barely even complain about how it looks. I hope it's successful, because it will prove that stuff like this can actually be done -- even in an environment like the US, which tends to be hostile towards designs like this.

Plus, then they'll have manufacturing plants so I'll be able to get one. WANT.
posted by malthas at 5:23 AM on June 27, 2008


'Aptera' is a wonderful name for a car--it means 'wingless'.

There is an order of insects called apterygota that contains the tiny white bugs you find jumping around in leaf litter in the woods. They eat dead leaves and shit topsoil. Who among us is doing anything half as virtuous?
posted by hexatron at 5:27 AM on June 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


Reminds me of the Segway.
posted by sciurus at 5:27 AM on June 27, 2008


My Humvee would so pwn that in an accident.

(no I don't have an Humvee)
posted by samsara at 6:23 AM on June 27, 2008


How about a bigger design, say 175 or so miles a gallon, and room for a suitcase, or I dunno, two other people? SUVs are impractically large, but c'mon. Do we really need the other extreme?
posted by zardoz at 6:54 AM on June 27, 2008


Why all the hate for the size of the thing? Not every car needs to be able to haul 8 passengers and half a house worth of crap. You do tile work? Then you'll probably want a pickup and not this car. But for the people out there commuting to work alone in their 10mpg monster trucks, with a laptop and a cup of coffee as their only cargo, how is this a bad thing? Does everyone here hate the SMART car too?
posted by dellsolace at 7:19 AM on June 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


So, I just have to run an extension cord from my 2nd floor apartment in Queens the 6 or 7 blocks to where we usually end up parking?
posted by Aversion Therapy at 7:26 AM on June 27, 2008


DU writes "Also says it will fit '15 grocery bags' but since it's also 'classified as a motorcycle' I wouldn't push that too far"

Any tadpole trike qualifies as a motorcycle in California, even something as huge as the 1933 Fuller Dymaxion.

zardoz writes "How about a bigger design, say 175 or so miles a gallon, and room for a suitcase, or I dunno, two other people? SUVs are impractically large, but c'mon. Do we really need the other extreme?"

I think we do. For years I never had more than a single passenger in my car, even when I was driving a Corolla hatchback the rear seats were always folded down. And currently I never have more than a single passenger in my van (I've even taken the rear seats out). If it's ever more than me and a single passenger I take my wife's van. There is a huge market for two seater basic transportation in Canada and $2 gas is going to drive that home. I'd buy one of these in a heartbeat if they were in my price range.
posted by Mitheral at 7:56 AM on June 27, 2008


$27,000? I'll walk, thanks.
posted by yoga at 8:18 AM on June 27, 2008


Speaking of ugly ass, non - aerodynamic cars ...

That being said, I would totally put down a deposit on one of these if they sold them on the east coast.

And it is the car of the future.
posted by daHIFI at 8:47 AM on June 27, 2008


My plan:

1.) Obtain an Aptera.
2.) Remove drive-train.
3.) Install a supercharged 1340cc motorcycle engine.
4.) Go really, really fast.
5.) If something gets in my way... turn.
6.) Become king of North America.
7.) Declare war on Venus.

So, everything hinges on this not being vaporware.
posted by quin at 9:17 AM on June 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


So the car of the future is the Reliant Regal? Who knew?

No, no, it's a morgan...
posted by gyusan at 9:41 AM on June 27, 2008


It looks like a floating duck head. I don't know if that's bad or good, but I would definitely swap out the horn so that it quacked when i used it.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 9:50 AM on June 27, 2008


Seriously, what's stopping a company from selling a one-box electric conversion kit?

If there was a single car they supported the conversion of, nothing. As is, if you want to convert something these days, it's not like getting the parts is tough. You can get your motor, batteries, and circuitry from various companies out there. You'll still need an adapter plate for your transmission, but these exist as off the shelf items for many makes and models. The only thing you really have to do is make the racks for the batteries.

What's really stopping them? Find an FPP on someone's goofy steampunk project. Read the comments. Find an FPP on RepRap. Read the comments. Find an FPP on someones amateur CNC conversion.... OK, there aren't any, but you see my point.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:39 AM on June 27, 2008


mitheral: what you say is quite valid for myself and ms. nobeagle. Up until we adopted 3 kids. Heck, an echo (2 door econobox) and a spectra5 (mini station wagon) just barely work for us right now, and with it now being illegal to put kids in the trunk (or even the front seat for all but one of them), we'd need to take 2 cars if we wanted to go to the beach to swim and maybe take a friend of one of the kids. Well, if the aptera comes down in price I'd be more than willing to exchange the echo for the aptera. But for the possibility of sometimes having something that resembles cargo room, we'd need to keep something like the spectra5.

Even a more standard family of 4 would need two of these to take the kids along. I'm sure eventually there will be another version that gets less fuel economy than this but can actually hold 4-6 passengers. I just really hope they do aim for 5-6 rather than 4.
posted by nobeagle at 10:50 AM on June 27, 2008


See that's my concern exactly. I'm positive Accelerated Composites can build the Aptera to be as safe as a car. I'm not positive that, absent a IIHS or NHTSA N-star rating I trust that they have actually done so. Exceeding requirements in construction is not the same as exceeding requirements in the resulting product and absent a real qualified and certified crash test I am wary to say the least.

I really, really want one so I hope they find a way to prove me wrong.
posted by Skorgu at 11:43 AM on June 27, 2008


I wonder how it handles, especially in wet weather. I thought that trikes were more likely to overturn in normal turns compared to four-wheelers.
posted by moonbiter at 12:17 PM on June 27, 2008


I want to see the real life safety test before I really cream my jeans, but I find this very exciting. It is all the commuter that MANY people will need. Not perfect for everybody, but there is definitely a niche for it: the single or married-but-childless professional who commutes more than 15 miles a day. And this is their first model, just like a sports car is Tesla's first model. Assuming this catches on, who's to say their second car won't be a four seater with cargo space that gets 120 miles per gallon? Or a funny looking 75 mpg SUV? There are many directions they could go after this.
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 1:32 PM on June 27, 2008


I don't think I've heard of anyone except a suicide who does plan on crashing.

There is a difference between not planning on crashing and planning on not crashing.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 1:48 PM on June 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'll definitely be keeping an eye on this thing. I very rarely have more than one passenger in my car, if that. The savings in fuel alone would pay for the steep price in short order.

As for the "but can you fit a squadron of crotchfruit in it" argument, I'd humbly submit that gratuitous breeding is half the reason we have an energy crisis in the first place.

I mean, kids are cute. But c'mon.
posted by greenie2600 at 2:00 PM on June 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


No car does everything well. (Why does this need to be explained to some people?)
posted by ryanrs at 3:18 AM on June 28, 2008


No anything does everything well.
posted by Dave Faris at 7:50 AM on June 28, 2008


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