One of the selling points of a battery-electric vehicle is the freedom from stopping at the gas station to fill up as you can charge up at home every night — for pennies compared to the cost of a full tank of gasoline.
However, the best possible electric vehicle wouldn’t even need to plugged in, but instead would just use solar panels to charge the batteries, eliminating any worries at all. Apparently, the time for that vehicle is now as Aptera Motors recently introduced its new advanced solar electric vehicle and its Never Charge technology.
“With Aptera’s Never Charge technology, you are driven by the power of the sun. Our built-in solar array keeps your battery pack topped off and anywhere you want to go, you just go,” said Co-Founder Chris Anthony in a statement.
Never Charge is built into every Aptera, designed to capture enough sunlight to travel more than 11,000 miles annually in most parts of the U.S. Aside from the solar cells dotting the top side of the vehicle, the Aptera vehicle is made of lightweight composites that are many times stronger than steel, allowing its unique body shape to slip through the air with an unheard-of drag coefficient (Cd) of .13.
The 180 cells, according to Aptera, will give the vehicle ability to travel 45 miles without even plugging it in. Conceivably, one could never have to plug the Aptera in based on the driving patterns of most Americans, who drive less than 20 miles daily.
While the exterior styling is cutting edge or over-the-top depending upon one’s styling preferences, the vehicle offers plenty of performance. Powered by two liquid-cooled electric motors, the Apter races from 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds, topping out at 110 mph. All-wheel drive and vectorized torque control provide the driver with plenty of stability and excelling handling, the company claims.
Aptera Motors’ special-edition Paradigm and Paradigm+ versions, available in ranges of 250, 400, 600, or 1,000 miles in both AWD and FWD packages, were available be reserved on Aptera Motors’ website for just $100 USD. Pricing is between $25,900 USD and $46,900 USD, depending on which spec you choose. Some of the models have already sold out.
While the San Diego-based company is the first to show off a viable EV powered by the sun, claiming the sEV will travel 1,000 miles on a full charge, it’s really a comeback story that potential competitors like Fisker, Karma and others would do well to try to pattern.
The company started its first run at the price in the mid-2000s, starting testing of its prototype with gull-wing doors and the swallow tail shape that looks very familiar now. So strong was the design and technology it captured a vaunted X Prize, due in large measure to its eye-popping 200 MPGe rating for the initial model.
However, the move from functioning prototype to fully proven, ready for production vehicle is difficult. It was made tougher due to the company’s financial limitations. It appeared the company, despite earning plenty of praise, was always chasing funding.
The company had raised about $40 million in funding, but needed far more than that. The Southern California firm had been counting on receiving a federal loan to cover most of the $150 million it said it needed to launch production of the three-wheeled, highly aerodynamic 2e, which looks much like a private aircraft minus the wings.
But the government failed to come up with funding as the Department of Energy loan program came under increasing fire – an issue that saw the DoE back out of assisting another California automotive startup, San Diego-based Next Autoworks. After that, it shut down the operation until recently.