Range is arguably the biggest hurdle when it comes to developing an EV, but one startup thinks it has cleared it—in more ways than one.
San Diego-based Aptera has just unveiled a new solar-based three-wheeler it claims doesn’t require charging—but just happens to have 1,000-mile battery-electric range for good measure.
The futuristic trike, which has an almost Jetsons flying car-like aesthetic, features more than 32 square feet of solar panels that are integrated into the body. This setup allows the two-seater to travel up to 45 miles a day and up to 11,000 miles per year on energy harnessed from the sun, according to the company.
“With Aptera’s Never Charge technology, you are driven by the power of the sun,” co-founder Chris Anthony said in a statement. “Our built-in solar array keeps your battery pack topped off and anywhere you want to go, you just go.”
So, where does the 1,000-mile range come in?
The vehicle is powered by individual wheel-mounted electric motors that can also be charged via the standard 110-volt outlets found in pretty much any American household. The company predicts its top model, the Paradigm Plus, which sports a battery of 100 kWh will be capable of covering 1,000 miles from a single charge. The standard Paradigm, meanwhile, will have a range of 400 miles.
Aptera’s efficiency is in part due to the car’s featherlight chassis and aerodynamic nature. Forged from lightweight composites, the vehicle has a svelte silhouette and can slip through the air with a drag coefficient of just 0.13. For context, Tesla’s Model 3 sits at 0.23. Aptera says the base model weighs just 1,800 pounds, while the 1,000-mile edition is 2,200 pounds or about the weight of two Steinway grand pianos. This means the pocket rocket can soar from zero to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and hit a top speed of 110 mph, according to Aptera. It also features all-wheel drive and vectorized torque control to give the EV more stability in tough conditions.
If all this is sounding slightly familiar, that’s because Aptera floated a similar electric car a decade ago. The company subsequently shuttered in 2011 after failing to secure funding for the three-wheeler but is hoping to make a resurgence with this reconstituted version—and in a market decidedly more friendly to EVs.
It appears to be working, too. Preorders for the Paradigm ($29,900) and Paradigm Plus ($46,900) opened last Friday, and both vehicles sold out in just 24 hours. Custom Apteras can still be reserved with a refundable deposit of $100 and start as low as $25,900. Aptera expects to start deliveries in 2021.
Check out more photos below: