Aptera solar vehicle ready to roll in 2023

Aptera solar vehicle ready to roll in 2023

Aptera solar vehicle ready to roll in 2023

Aptera, a developer of a futuristic-looking solar-powered passenger car, has unveiled its first production vehicle, which it says will roll off the assembly line this year.

According to the company, the all-wheel-drive, three-wheeled, two-passenger vehicle will have a range of 400 miles, can sprint to 60 mph in four seconds and has a top speed of 101 mph.

Although designed to draw most of its power from the sun, the Aptera vehicle can also be charged from a standard 120-volt outlet.

In a high-sun location like Southern California, the average American driver would never have to plug in, based on a daily average of 29 miles, the company explained in a press release.

In places with average sun exposure, such as New York or Chicago, drivers may need to plug in about three times a year. At 13 mph, an overnight charge should last 150 miles.

Meanwhile, Lightyear, developer of a more conventional-looking passenger car, said on Monday it was suspending production of its US$250,000 Lightyear 0 solar-powered vehicle and redirecting resources to its Lightyear 2 product. , which should start selling at just under $40,000 and have a range of 500 miles.

“Recently, we launched a waitlist for Lightyear 2, which resulted in over 40,000 subscriptions from individual customers, and we’ve already had around 20,000 pre-orders from fleet owners,” said CEO and co-founder of Lightyear, Lex Hoefsloot, in a statement.

“We hope to close key investments in the coming weeks to transition to Lightyear 2, an affordable solar electric vehicle available to a wider audience,” he added.

“ambitious” goal

Chris Jones, chief analyst at Canalys, a global market research firm, explained that Lightyear 0 has always been just a showcase of what’s possible with solar and is expected to ship to a few hundred customers.

“It was hoped that these influential, wealthy, early-onset customers would become evangelists to help spread the word about what a new class of vehicles is,” Jones told TechNewsWorld.

“Lightyear’s second model will be priced ideally for electric vehicles for its planned launch in 2025,” he said. “We’ll have the full reveal this year, but most importantly, it’s a five-seater – and it looks like a car.”

Light year 2

Lightyear has opened the waiting list for its second production model, the Lightyear 2. So far, the company is slowly pulling back the curtain to reveal what the vehicle will look like. (Image credit: Lightyear)

“Aptera, on the other hand, went for a less traditional and more radical look,” he continued. “It’s a design that will appeal less to customers.”

He called Aptera’s statement that it would produce cars this year “ambitious”, especially since it would need to secure funding very soon if it is to achieve that goal.

Capital shortage

“2023 is a terrible time to raise capital,” observed Sam Abuelsamid, principal analyst for e-mobility at Guidehouse Insights, a market intelligence firm in Detroit, which has covered Aptera since 2007.

“Companies that are much more established are going through a tough time right now, so I’m not very confident that Aptera will get to the point of delivering a noticeable number of vehicles this year,” Abuelsamid told TechNewsWorld.

If Aptera can start shipping SPEVs this year, it may want to ship them outside of North America.

“Some European and Southeast Asian markets are better prepared for such cars,” said Roger C. Lanctot, director of automotive connected mobility at Strategy Analytics, a global research, advisory and analytics firm. .

France, for example, has a program called vehicle without a license, designed to allow drivers without a license to drive vehicles with lower safety standards.

“There is a market for solar-powered vehicles, although it may not be a mass market yet,” Lanctot told TechNewsWorld.

He added that Aptera should likely leverage car sharing to expose consumers to the concept of solar-powered transportation.

too many angles

Once Aptera’s vehicles hit the market, they might run into more issues.

“Their technology is pretty much cooked, but the weight disparity and relative fragility of their design will create problems for them in the market,” said Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst of Enderle Group, a consulting firm in Bend, Ore.

“The Aptera offers better protection than a motorcycle, but I expect interest in the car to wane once the first accident occurs,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Enderle argued that solar technology still needs to be developed before it can be used to power a vehicle that resembles a conventional automobile.

“You have to reduce the weight and size of the vehicle to even have a slim chance of running solar power,” he explained.

“Aptiva’s design does not appear to be suitable for a multiple-car collision, given the lightness of the vehicle,” he added.

Abuelsamid pointed out that photovoltaic cells have peak generation efficiency with a fairly narrow angle from the sun. At the most extreme angles, they generate very little energy. Since a vehicle usually doesn’t have a lot of flat surfaces, the cells are at all sorts of angles, and the vehicle itself could be at an infinite number of positions relative to the sun.

“Solar cells are likely to be most useful for auxiliary power such as powering air conditioning and other systems to reduce the load on the battery,” he said. “For a small vehicle like the Aptera, it also has limited floor space for cells.”

Forced to compromise

Lanctot noted, however, that 70% of all vehicle journeys are between 10 and 20 km. “So solar can be a very practical solution, which is why companies like Sono Motors and Squad Mobility are getting into the business,” he said.

Germany-based Sono Motors makes a vehicle that charges via the sun, an electrical outlet, or both simultaneously. The car’s solar range is 70 miles per week, although its battery has a range of 190 miles. Its top speed is 86 mph.

Squad makes two solar-powered vehicles – a two-seater, with a top speed of 27 mph, and a four-seater, with a top speed of 44 mph. The autonomy of the vehicles is 12 miles per day.

“With solar, one way or another, you have to compromise,” Lanctot observed.

“Sono and Squad compromise on safety to offer a lower price,” he continued. “Lightyear compromised on price – super expensive – to deliver ICE/EV equivalent performance. Aptera compromised on cosmetics – three wheels – to achieve lower price and acceptable performance, also sacrificing interior space .

“There is a niche in the market for these vehicles – for each of them – but it is a niche with the limitations that that entails,” he said.

“The Nissan Leaf was met with some skepticism due to its limited range when it was launched, but it has found a solid place in the market and remains popular,” Lanctot explained.

“There’s definitely a home for solar vehicles, but that’s probably tens of thousands of vehicles for Aptera, Sono and Squad, not millions.”


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