Driving the Aptera 2e

Posted by: Helen Walters on February 5, 2009

Steve Fambro is a classic garage entrepreneur. An electrical engineer by training, in 2004 he started to tinker with creating an electric vehicle in his garage. The catalyst, he says, was pure self-interest: he wanted to build an electric car that he could use in California’s commuter lane. Then, in January, 2006, his intellectual curiosity became a business proposition, with the launch of his company, Aptera. I had a chance to take a spin in the tear-drop-shaped 2e “efficient commuter vehicle” (don’t call it a car) yesterday, and also chatted with Steve about his hopes for its official launch, in Q4 of this year. What struck me most? Two things. Firstly, that design is at the very core of this company, which banks on aerodynamics and the composition and low weight of its materials to keep the price fairly low (starting price is $25k.) Secondly, that as we span around town, it felt completely normal. We were driving a (road legal) prototype, which made a few shudders here and there, but essentially it felt completely safe and, well, unexciting. Which is really rather the point. There are still changes to come in the design: the user interface will be transformed, for instance, while storage space seemed limited at best. But for a commuter vehicle (it gets an average of 100 miles and is charged by plugging into a regular electric socket — full charge in eight hours) it seemed viable. Given how much transport is for commuters (meaning that the car is empty/undriven for much of the day,) the 2e could be a zero-emissions option. I only had about 15 minutes to talk with Steve before the next eager passenger elbowed me out the way to jump in, but clearly the nearly 4,000 people who’ve already made reservations agree.

Reader Comments

RAY BEAUDRY

February 5, 2009 8:13 PM

thank you for this article. it confirms
for me that we the people can move forward with challenges that are befor us.
i am not a rocket man at best a back yard mechanic. only out of survival, i can't afford 100.00 an hr to have someone work on my car and then have to bring it back to fix the same problem.
we've been told a lie but we the people know better.
let tell the saudis to keep there oil.
brazil is 90% oil free.they have been for 10 yrs now.
we could emulate them can't we?
i do hope the price of all eclectric cars come down because like the volt i cant afford a 45,000.00 electric car.i can afford a 20,0000 car.
i will be watching to see who comes out with the best one in the next 2yrs.i will have the money by then and i will buy one.

from a dav ,

ray

robert shipley

February 5, 2009 9:59 PM

Highly anticipating the delivery of mine!

$1 per 100 miles.

Looks like George Jetson's weekend car.

Can't wait!

kevin

February 6, 2009 12:21 AM

Perfect timing for me. As of late next yr i will/should be commuting nearly 150 miles a day and by that time my reserved Aptera prototype should be in my hands.. #2137

A1phaGeek

February 6, 2009 1:20 AM

I'm on the list as well. #765 ALL ELECTRIC! Sorry about the caps, but I'm pretty excited to be driving into a better future.

jstdadd

February 7, 2009 2:19 PM

I am reserved #1361 on the Aptera 2e (electric) list. I commute alone 55 miles each day, round trip. The Aptera is perfect for me, will cut my commute cost to $1.00 per day - if I took the bus, it would be $8.00 per day, by comparison, and take me 2 hours, vs. 40 mins in the Aptera. It's a no-brainer for me.

Last summer I spent around $500 per month on gas, after the Aptera, it goes to $30 a month on electricity. Can you see the payment in there?

kelly

February 7, 2009 4:29 PM

I think this is the same Aptera that that last spring was to go on sale last Oct.

scottsim

February 7, 2009 8:38 PM

Making my own power (solar array), an EV was a no-brainer for me. Lucky enough to have gotten the Aptera reservation early. #159 2e.

Chris

February 9, 2009 2:23 PM

Wait a minute! A PRIVATE company did this? Without huge government subsidies? Without a multi-billion dollar subsidy? Without a congressional panel creating a commission, creating a subcommittee to delegate a sub-panel to write a 300 page report?

How is that possible, that engineers, using PRIVATE funds solved a major problem and created a solution that customers want and are willing to pay for?

Is that still legal in the US?

Buzz

February 10, 2009 11:27 AM

Well Chris, you're partially correct.
Aptera benefits from plenty of Govt. subsidies.
The battery technology they require comes out of years of Gov sponsored University research and USABC development programs that created a viable, safe Lithium Iron Phosphate cells. The factory in Vista, CA where they will build their first production units receives tax breaks from local gov so they will choose to build there rather than in Temecula or Utah.
There's lots more examples yet, I don't think this takes anything away from Aptera's innovation and entrepreneurship; just need to be aware of the shared investments.

Mike

February 14, 2009 5:57 AM

Chris has it exactly right. Most technologies have some tie-in's to government funding... mostly military spending and tax breaks. However, government largesse or tax breaks are not the enablers for technologies and companies like this. Entrepreneurial economics is the only way for America to improve it's competitive status. Paying Detroit to stay alive merely funds lousy companies with bad labor practices. British Leland should have taught us this lesson decades ago!

Marla K

February 15, 2009 9:21 AM

Their web site offers no features or specs on this vehicle and I can't find any crash test/safety info. I would be hesitant to reserve one without this info.

Marla K

February 15, 2009 9:27 AM

I don't think your article mentioned that this vehicle will be made available to CA residents ONLY.

Elton Howard

February 16, 2009 3:53 PM

Very interesting---even if delayed!!!
but what is the status of going front-wheeled drive???

JJ

February 17, 2009 11:42 AM

Marla,

their website says the safety specs are coming soon... but until then, their website also lists some of the safety features that are currently incorporated in the vehicle such as: "driver and passenger airbags", "front impact zone", "side impact beams" and a "passenger safety cell".

also, the website does mention that the car is currently only available in CA... this is from their site:

"""Currently Aptera 2e availability is limited to residents of California. We will work hard to bring this vehicle to the rest of the country and to international customers as soon as possible. Until then, if you are out of state you will receive a prompt refund if you send us a deposit. We appreciate your patience and would like for you to sign up for our newsletter so we can keep you informed as to when we will begin selling the Aptera in your area."""

Doug

February 17, 2009 5:09 PM

I have just reserved one, putting my money where my mouth is - being an exponent of electrical cars. I am hoping the $25k figure holds true when manufacturing is completed, because that is at the top of my range. I think this is exciting!

Lee713

February 18, 2009 5:02 PM

Why is the 2e only available to CA residents?
What bureaucratic impediments stand in the way of non-CA residents buying one of these vehicles?
Could I just buy one in CA and ship it / drive it to the state where I live and register it there?
If it is good enough to meet CA emission standards, it ought to be good enough for any other state DOT agency!
Believe me I don’t want the US government getting involved in this issue but it appears that the prohibition of owning a 2e and shipping / registering it in another state is not constitutional (after all, the 2e is not an interstate prohibited or controlled item like guns, explosives, or drugs - even if it does use LIP cell battery technology).

I am ready to order / buy one sans the restrictions and impediments.

AJ

February 23, 2009 6:41 PM

Like a lot of commenters, I want to get into the "green" vehicle movement soon. I've narrowed my possible choices to the Aptera (sexiest), the 2010 Prius (interesting changes coming, 4 passenger, stylish) and maybe the new Honda Insight (cheaper Prius clone?).
I'd love to see side-by-side comparisons which include the Aptera

BOB

March 4, 2009 2:24 AM

DOES IT NEED A LICENSE PLATE HOLDER AND WHERE DOES IT GO?

FRONT ? BACK ?

DOES APTERA HAVE ANY IDEA OF LOWEST INSURANCE COST QUOTE?

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What comes next? The Bloomberg Businessweek Innovation and Design blog chronicles new tools for creativity and collaboration, innovation case studies in both the corporate and social sectors, and the new ideas that have the power to change the way things have always been done.

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