You’d be forgiven for thinking this outrageously futuristic three-wheeled beast is a game dev’s creation from Cyberpunk 2077, but it’s the very real Aptera EV – and they just smashed their funding goal to hit the road by 2021.
In a 12-day fundraiser, helped along by a viral video hit, Aptera Motors ended with a total of $3,369,622, raised by over 4000 investors. The company sold out of its two mainline models, the Paradigm and Paradigm+, on the first day of funding (although you can still reserve a custom model with a $100 deposit).
If the name Aptera sounds familiar, it’s because this isn’t their first time at the rodeo. The startup launched in 2006 with a similar concept, creating a prototype in 2008. But they ran out of money and folded, reimbursing investors when they couldn’t deliver, thanks to a denied loan from the US Department of Energy. This time around, the startup’s relying on crowdfunding and the viral power of their eye-catching design to succeed.
Technically classed as a ‘motorcycle or auto-cycle’, due to its three wheels, Aptera’s launch video explains the pride they take in their difference from “boxy” cars. The two-seater vehicle was designed with an emphasis on aerodynamics and efficiency, which is how their highest-performing battery can apparently hit an extraordinary range of 1000 miles. Supposedly, the ‘all-wheel drive’ can handle snow and adverse weather, though we’ve yet to hear an objective account of its handling, nor an official safety rating.
The real selling point, however, is Aptera’s “never charge technology”, featuring solar cells all over the body of the vehicle. The claim is that the battery can top itself up while parked in a sunny spot, gaining back up to 40 miles this way – so if you’re an average commuter in the western US, you’d theoretically never have to charge the battery, as the car would perform its own upkeep.
Of course, as I glance outside at another miserable winter’s day in Britain, this isn’t exactly applicable to a large part of the world, which is why it’s a relief that it can still be charged the regular way at a charging station – or even via a wall outlet, albeit much slower. Still, according to the solar calculator on Aptera’s site, if you live in the southern UK and drive 30 miles a day, you’d need to charge the battery only 3 times a year. That’s undeniably worth the price of admission, if it proves true.
Aptera’s starting price for their 250-mile range model is $25,900 – about £19,000 – and the top-performing Paradigm+ clocks in at $44,900 (about £33,000), although it’s already sold out. There are a lot of promises to be delivered on when it comes to the reality of this vehicle, and we can’t forget that Aptera Motors have burned out before. But EV technology has come a long way in the past decade, so if you like the idea of turning heads and catching rays in this lightweight, zippy vehicle, you can still put in your $100 reservation to get in on the action.