Aptera Rolls Out Newest Model, Says It’s On the Road to Financial Stability

4/14/10Follow @bvbigelow

After lying low for much of the past year, startup automaker Aptera Motors of Vista, CA, said it has secured at least $10 million in VC funding and unveiled the latest version of its three-wheel vehicle—powered entirely by a battery from A123 Systems of Watertown, MA.

At a media briefing staged yesterday in the hangar of a private jet aircraft company, Aptera officials unveiled what they described as a “fully engineered” Aptera 2e, an all-electric, two-passenger car capable of using the energy equivalent of 1 gallon of gas to drive more than 200 miles. Immediately after the event, Aptera shipped the vehicle off to Detroit, where it has qualified to compete this summer against 37 other cars in the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize. The multi-stage competition is offering a $10 million purse ($5 million in two categories) for production-ready, clean, affordable, and fast automobiles that can travel the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon.

“We want to show it to you here today before it goes off to Michigan for the competition,” Aptera CEO Paul Wilbur told the crowd, which included journalists, TV camera crews, and representatives from 23 companies that are supplying key components to Aptera.

Tom Reichenbach, Aptera’s chief engineer, said the aerodynamically sleek car revealed at yesterday’s briefing was “built with components that we intend to go to production with,” and nearly “90 percent of the material cost of the 2e will be sourced from U.S.-based suppliers.”

Aptera 2e and Tom Reichenbach

Aptera 2e and Tom Reichenbach

Aptera screened about 20 prospective batteries before selecting a 20 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion “nano phosphate” battery developed by A123 Systems, Reichenbach said. Weight became a crucial factor in engineering the car, and Reichenbach said the battery package accounts for just 476 pounds—or less than a fourth of the car’s overall weight of 1,800 pounds. He also said, “Through clever packaging, their energy density was better than anything else we could find.”

The company cited key contributions by numerous other suppliers, including … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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