In the unpredictable landscape of startups, Aptera, a solar electric car company, has faced challenges since its launch in 2006, including a setback in 2011. Despite this, a relaunch in 2020 has rekindled hopes, and the futuristic solar-powered three-wheeled electric car, classified as an autocycle, is on the brink of hitting the road.
Autocycles differ from motorcycles, featuring three wheels, a front-facing seat, and a steering wheel. Aptera’s design aligns with the autocycle aesthetic, resembling a unique earthbound spaceship. The company aims to attract drivers seeking a practical electric car for daily tasks and a stylish vehicle for weekend showcasing.
Aptera emphasizes its ample storage space, exceeding conventional cars like the Honda Accord and Prius. With 25 cubic feet of cargo space, Aptera accommodates various items, making it suitable for grocery trips and outdoor adventures.
Targeting drivers who desire a departure from conventional cars, Aptera positions itself favorably compared to three-wheeled motorcycles, offering a unique driving experience without needing an additional motorcycle license in most states. As an autocycle, Aptera drivers can benefit from full-time access to the HOV lane, potentially lower auto insurance costs, and other bonuses.
To realize its vision, Aptera has garnered support through crowdfunding, raising over $120 million from individual electric car enthusiasts. The California Energy Commission approved a $21 million grant to support the company’s scaling of its European production line and its introduction to the US market.
Aptera’s distinctive aerodynamic styling incorporates numerous solar panels, aiming to power the car with self-gathered solar energy for up to 40 miles of daily driving. The recent announcement of raising over $33 million through the Accelerator Program propels Aptera closer to the pre-production phase, enabling vehicle testing and validation.
While challenges remain and the success of three-wheeled electric cars in the US market is uncertain, Aptera’s unique approach and recent funding milestones suggest progress toward making its solar-powered autocycle a reality.