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Aptera’s high-tech solar car envisions a new era of efficient travel

Published Jan 24, 2023


San Diego - Hailing from sunny California and designed from the ground up to maximise energy efficiency, Aptera’s new solar car is close to becoming a reality.

The company recently pulled the covers off its Launch Edition, which is ready to hit the roads, with over 40 000 orders already in place, but don’t expect to see it in South Africa any time soon.

The Aptera’s unique shape, which makes it appear more like an aircraft than a car, allows it to slip through the air using a quarter of the energy that a conventional car would require, Aptera says. Aerodynamics are key here, as are ultra-lightweight materials, with the body being made from composite materials.

But the biggest drawcard, versus your regular electric car, is that it can be powered by the sun alone. A 700 watt solar system allows it to cover up to 64km per day on the sun’s rays alone, assuming you live in a sunny part of the world. However customers who need to travel further than that can plug it into a wall socket or fast charger for an extended range.

The launch edition that you see here has a maximum range of 643km, but the company’s configurator lists various battery options, ranging from 402km to 1 600km. Of course, the choice of battery does have a big bearing on the price, which - for the US market - ranges from $29 300 (R505 000) to $48 300 (R833 000).

The vehicle has electric motors in each of its three wheels, which gives the Aptera a system output of 128kW, but thanks to its light weight and aerodynamics it’s actually quicker off the mark than you might expect, with the manufacturer quoting a four-second 0-96km/h sprint time.

Although its unconventional design means the car can only seat two occupants, its lifting rear solar panel does allow for a small tent to be installed in the back area, for those spontaneous trips to the wilderness.

Aptera is aiming to begin production of its three-wheeler by the end of 2023, with an eventual production target of 20 000 units per year, although it warns that the delivery timeline will be dependent on funding received.

“We’ve solved the equation for a more efficient way to travel by harnessing the power of the sun, and we’re excited to introduce our Launch Edition vehicle to the world,” said Aptera co-founder Steve Fambro.

“Our tireless efforts have resulted in the Aptera vehicle, that can take you where you want to go using the creative energy directly from our sun and efficiently converted into free movement.”

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