Defunct EV Maker Returns with Solar Car

Long before conventional car makers began overhauling their factories to make electric cars, and Tesla was considered the most valuable auto company in the world, a San Diego startup sought to revolutionize transportation with a three-wheeled electric car that could travel hundreds of miles per charge.

But Aptera ultimately ran into some of the same cash-flow problems that plagued other startup electric vehicle companies, as well as troubles with federal regulators and reported internal disputes. Ultimately, the company shut down in late 2011 without delivering a single car.

Aptera and its original founders, however, were apparently not content to remain a footnote in the story of vehicle electrification. The new incarnation of the company this month began taking pre-orders for a new vehicle it claims can travel up to 1,000 miles per charge — and likely won’t need to be charged at all.

Aptera Motors says the two-seat, three-wheeled car — named, simply, the Aperta — is the most efficient vehicle ever made, as well as world’s first solar electric vehicle that requires no charging for most daily use.

The company says a built-in solar array provides the battery with up to 45 miles of range per day, and that the system harvests enough sunlight to travel more than 11,000 miles per year in most regions. The vehicle’s low-drag design, lightweight structure and 100-kWh battery pack help provide the additional range.

It can also go from zero to 60 mph in as little as 3.5 seconds, and consists of just four main pieces, which allows for rapid, efficient and high-volume production.

The company will build a design center in San Diego with plans to ramp into full-scale manufacturing. Aptera hopes to begin delivering its vehicles next year at a price between nearly $26,000 and $46,000.

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