Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Vehicle of the Future?

Meet the Aptera Typ-1 model - a vehicle designed for economy and efficiency. At first look, it could easily be mistaken for a miniature airplane or an alien spacecraft - but nope, it doesn't fly. And it isn't a car, either. Due to it's built (it's 3-wheeled) and it's weight, it is registered as a motorcycle - but this time, there's no need for a helmet. ;)

It might look tiny, but it can comfortably accomodate someone as tall as 6'5"! It has a "two-plus-one" capacity - driver, front passenger, and an infant seat (newborn to age 3) in the middle behind the front seating. The manufacturer claims there is enough storage space to fit 15 bags of groceries, two full-size golf club bags or even a couple of seven foot surf boards. Hmm.. but what if a family has 4 or more members... Do they need to buy two? The maker said future plans may include 4-seat models.

More features and specs:
  • The Aptera's composite safety cage is similar to Formula-1 cars - "Eyes Forward" vision system with 180 degree rear sight picture displayed in the driver's field of view to enhance situational awareness
  • Stability: It features traction control, a low center of gravity and a wide track width which makes for a very stable platform
  • Driver and passenger Airbags
  • Skin: Monocoque construction or structural skin provides 360 degree protection for the occupants. Monocoque construction was first widely used in the aircraft industry, starting in the 1930's. - so that's why it looks like an airplane...
  • Speed: Top speed for the production model exceeds 85 mph, going from 0-60 in under 10 seconds.
  • GPS navigation, CD/MP3/DVD player, Large View Rear Camera, and complete vehicle diagnostic system
  • Charging time: Typical time would be 2 to 4 hours.
  • LED interior and exterior lighting for maximum energy efficiency
  • Solar assisted Climate Control System so you always enter a comfortable Aptera that is never too hot or cold
  • Color: White - for keeping your Aptera cool in the summer and it makes the vehicle very identifiable at night which is an added safety feature, but, different colors might be produced in the future
  • Gasoline engine
  • Cup holders
  • The windows can be opened.

With just a small deposit of $500, you can already reserve for one. Their goal is to begin production of the all-electric late this year and the hybrid in late 2009.The approximate price for the all electric version is $27,000 and the plug-in hybrid is $30,000. But initially, this is only made available in California, as they have not set up maintenance centers in other states yet, nor in any other countries.

Oh, and in case your wondering what happens when an 18-wheeler truck passes the Aptera? The manufacturer stated the aerodynamic shape allows air to slip seamlessly over the vehicle body, such that there is no effect when a large vehicle passes by. The thought of it is scary, though... It could get squashed if the truck driver can't see it from high up in his seat.

Read more about the Aptera and it's first traffic-stopping drive in NYC at the Popular Mechanics blog - October 15, 2008 entry.

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