In the world of eco-innovation, no industry produces more eccentric designs than the automotive sector. Week upon week, more and more crazy designs emerge, most destined only to be concepts, so it’s quite a news story when something makes it into production.


This gorgeous little beast is the Aptera, Greek for “wingless”. Announced back in March 2007, this month sees it actually available to pre-order, with the first models to be delivered next year. The Aptera’s designer, Steve Fambro, aims to make 30 Apteras a day, selling for less than $30,000 each.


Running on three wheels, it can seat two people and weighs just 850 pounds. It’s available as all-electric or as a plug-in diesel-electric hybrid. It can go from zero to 60 mph in 11 seconds, with a top speed of 95 mph. The Aptera’s impressive performance is down to the low friction coefficient material and aerodynamic shape. Even the windshield wipers are recessed, helping to give it much lower drag than conventional cars. The efficiency gained means that the Aptera can achieve 230mpg at 55mph, and the electric-only model can travel 120 miles before needing to be recharged. You can see a video of it in action :

Other rather cool features include the solar power boosted satellite radio and air conditioning that turns itself on when the car is parked in the sun. Safety features include 360-degree visibility provided by three rear-mounted cameras, beams reinforce the composite shell to deflect and absorb the force of an impact. The wheels are arranged with two in front and one behind to proved better stability in cornering. As it is a three wheeler, it also qualifies as a motorbike in California, and can use the car pool lanes, even if there are two people in it. UK motorists will also benefit from lower road tax than for four-wheelers.


The Aptera is one of 31 current potential entries to the Automotive X Prize, which aims to dramatically increase consumer access to vehicles which are not only ultra-efficient and clean, but affordable and desirable as well. This prize comes from the same stable as the Ansari X Prize, in which teams were challenged to produce and fly the world’s first private vehicle to space twice within two weeks, for a $10 million prize.


It’ll be interesting to see how this does. Other similarly sized vehicle have not succeeded before, but the is just something in the design that I like, and that other people seem to be taking to as well, even if it does look like a fish. The Aptera website is truly awful to navigate, so you might prefer its myspace. Interestingly, Aptera is male, 27 years old and an Aries.




  1. 1 jack October 5, 2007 at 1:51 am

    Uh, why are you showing the recent vehicle inside with the old vehicle outside? poor job getting your story straight.

    check the site again a get the right photos. the one at the top is not the one they are taking orders on.


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