San Diego–based solar electric vehicle startup Aptera is making some pretty bold claims about its current prototype: namely, that it will be the “most efficient vehicle on the planet.” But the questions that surround the Aptera are not about its efficiency, but rather about whether it will make it into production at all.
According to reporting from Electrek, the Aptera prototype — a tiny, three-wheeled, spaceship-looking vehicle with solar panels on the roof — is currently undergoing wind tunnel testing in Italy to prove that it has the lowest drag coefficient of any car ever. And the specs look good. The Aptera has a teardrop shape with a pointed rear, all three wheels enclosed in aerodynamic pods, and a tiny frame, all of which could combine to create a record-breaking drag coefficient, as the company is predicting.
What remains to be seen with the Aptera is whether the car can actually make it to market. Despite having many preorders and EV enthusiasts eagerly anticipating its launch, Aptera is reportedly constantly strapped for cash. The company has undertaken a successful crowdfunding campaign to keep operations going, although Electrek reports it may have run afoul of the Securities and Exchange Commission in doing so.
Another reason for pessimism around Aptera is that the company has already gone bankrupt once, in 2011, and was forced to refund the preorders customers placed on a similar three-wheeled solar electric vehicle. However, the company rose from the dead in 2021 with its original founders still at the helm and most of its original concept intact. And a lot has changed in terms of the public’s acceptance of electric cars in the past decade, so it is perfectly plausible that Aptera may succeed this time doing the exact thing it failed at more than a decade ago.
Electrek’s commenters had mixed reactions to the new Aptera updates.
“I truly would love to see Aptera succeed. Their success would after all incentivize other manufactures to start incorporating solar technology into EVs, which seems like such a natural step in EV technology,” wrote one commenter.
“Problem is, it’s NOT a car, won’t pass any safety testing as a result, and may even require a helmet in states like California,” wrote another. “Call me when it is no longer in vaporware stage and has some sort of safety rating. Not holding my breath.”
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