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By Robert Rapier on May 6, 2008 with no responses

The Aptera

Flying on the plane back to Amsterdam yesterday, I picked up a copy of Newsweek. Inside, there was a mention of a new vehicle that I had never heard of before, the Aptera:

10 Fixes For the Planet

7. The Aptera: A funky new hybrid-electric car gets 300 miles per gallon of gas.

The dirty secret of automakers, says Jib Ellison, CEO of BluSkye Sustainability Consulting, is that most of the energy used by a car comes from moving the vehicle itself, not the people in it. “That’s because cars aren’t designed to be as aerodynamic as they could be, and because we have this obsession with heavy vehicles, even though there are now lighter materials that are just as safe,” he says. But a prototype car from upstart Aptera Motors in Carlsbad, Calif., could help change all that.

The Aptera is not like any vehicle on the road today. It’s made with ultra-light (but superstrong) composites, and it has just three wheels to reduce its weight still further. It also has a funky shape—a cross between an insect and a flying saucer—that was designed in the computerized equivalent of a wind tunnel to minimize drag. By next year the car will be available in two models—one hybrid electric and the other purely electric, which can be plugged into any outlet—”even a solar carport,” says cofounder Steven Fambro.

Not that a $30,000 two-seater that requires eight hours of recharging will be everyone’s ideal car. But Fambro isn’t worried. He’s presold 1,300 Apteras without spending a dollar on advertising (although he’s selling only in California at first to minimize distribution and repair issues). “It’s selling itself,” he says. “And $100-a-barrel oil doesn’t hurt.” Are you listening, GM?

Anyway, I thought that was interesting. You can read more about it at the company website: