Driving the Aptera 2e

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.

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