Electric and hybrid luxury cars like Tesla’s Roadster and Fisker Automotive’s Karma may grab the headlines—and celebrity owners. But what if you’re an early adopter on a budget? Maybe you should take a look at Aptera’s latest models. Scheduled for production later this year, the all-electric Typ-1e will cost approximately $26,900, while the plug-in series hybrid Typ-1h will go for about $29,900.
Both models share a futuristic three-wheeled design that seats two, with additional room for a center infant seat (see the figure). Because of their layout and weight, the Typ-1 vehicles are registered as motorcycles, yet Aptera didn’t compromise on safety. The roof and doors exceed rollover and impact requirements for other passenger vehicles. The cars also sport airbag-in seatbelt technology, as well as a front subframe and a firewall that redirect impact energy around their occupants.
The all-electric and hybrid models both use a commoditized, “ruggedized” three-phase motor controller designed for vehicular applications as well as a three-phase motor. The Typ-1e uses a 10-kWh battery pack, while the Typ-1h uses a smaller pack with a small, water-cooled EFI Gasoline engine with closed-loop oxygen feedback and catalytic converter coupled to a lightweight 12-kW starter/generator.
According to the company, the all-electric Typ-1e has a range of 120 miles. The hybrid Typ-1h can drive 40 to 60 miles on electric power alone, with a company estimated mpg figure of 130. Aptera also estimates a top speed of 85 mph for the production models, going from 0 to 60 mph in less than 10 seconds. Typical battery charge time would range from two to four hours and typically cost California residents $1 to $2 for an overnight charge plugged into any standard 110-V outlet. Aptera doesn’t have any estimates for its battery life and replacement costs yet, though.
While these numbers may not compare to the more glamorous competition, the cars still offer some innovative advantages. Solar cells on the roof power the heating and air conditioning. As fuel-efficient three-wheeled vehicles, they’re eligible for the HOV lanes in California. The design provides 180° rear sight, while the display panel in the driver’s field of vision keeps the driver’s eyes on the road. And, Aptera offers GPS navigation with a CD/MP3/DVD/satellite radio system.
Drivers can reserve a Typ-1e or Typ-1h with a $500 deposit. However, they’re only available to California residents for now. Aptera expects production to begin later this year, with customers receiving the cars approximately 12 months after making their deposit. And if driving a Typ-1 doesn’t seem satisfying enough, maybe you can design one, as Aptera is looking for engineers and technicians with openings expected in CAD, electric vehicle drive systems, power conversion, and other departments.