Dreams out of Gas: Remembering Aptera


Going through Popular Science magazines, I rediscovered an article about one of those dream cars: the 300mpg Aptera 2e. Of course, like many scientific ideas, it remained a dream…

What happened to it? Bankruptcy. They failed to secure the necessary funding. I do recall some of the blame being on the US gov deciding to bail out GM rather than fund vehicle startups. You can read more about that on greencarreports. There was also issues with creating something to fit the regulations. I’m under the impression the company wanted to sell a “car” to received funding, not a glorified trike.

There was some news in 2013 about its possible return via Zaptera, branching off into a spinoff company called ApteraUSA, but that company seems to have gone defunct in 2014, as evidenced by the Linkedin account of former CEO Richard Deringer. And as far as I know, the parent Chinese company never produced anything either.

It was such a beautiful-looking car, though, that I wonder if it would have been profitable had it ever been produced. I suspect the nationwide market would not have been as friendly due to the gas price drop, since your average customer has lost interest in fuel-efficiency.

Not that you can’t find images of it by browsing around, but here are some basic shots:

aptera-ed02 aptera-ed03 aptera-ed04

Like many grand new ideas, this one hit the garbage bin. Given that it was resurrected once for being such a good idea, I wonder if something similar will get a chance in the years ahead. Right now is too soon. A number of things have to change before the market – and regulations – are ripe for new arrivals. (Not to mention I wouldn’t feel safe driving it in traffic with tons of pickup trucks.) That said, it may be the closest vehicle I’ve seen pop out of sci-fi and almost into the hands of average Joe. (FYI, the car was set to price at under $30k.) The other stuff out there just looks like glorified remakes of stuff we’ve always been making. Of course, chances are, the model in these images may not even closely resemble the model we’d have been legally able to drive, but we may never know.

The lesson in all this? Don’t get excited when you see the headlines.


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