Getting a new vehicle startup off the ground is tough, and even tougher when you're trying to build all-electric, three-wheeled, futuristic bubble cars. Aptera knows this perhaps better than anyone, facing its share of difficulties over the past year. But today, the company unveiled its official pre-production prototype, with the full-production model to come in about 11 months--once the final financing hurdle is cleared.
"The Aptera was developed completely from a clean slate. It's the ultimate start-up," said Aptera President and CEO Paul Wilbur. "Lots of engineering and dedicated people have created this beautifully-designed vehicle. The objective is to assure that the safety, quality and overall efficiency of our first production vehicle are correct. No compromises. We have to get this right the first time, and we've contracted with the best and brightest in the industry.”
The resurgence in viability at Aptera came largely through new investments providing a modicum of financial stability. The company is also awaiting word on its Department of Energy application for a $184-million five-year loan through the Advanced Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program. "We completed the first close of our recent round of funding last month, and one more financing hurdle remains. When it's complete, it will take about 11 months to start our full-volume launch next year," said Wilbur.
As for the pre-production 2e, it's about what you'd expect if you've been keeping up with development. It's being pitched as a "200-mpg-plus" car, using phosphate-based lithium-ion batteries from A123 Systems to deliver electricity to the car's electric motor.
The pre-production or "design intent" prototype is now on its way to Michigan to compete for the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE, where it will undergo several months of testing, judging and evaluation.