Thursday, January 19, 2006

Aptera, a name you may come to know...

(hat tip: Wired "Autopia" blog)

So, here's the Aptera.

Here's it's performance sheet.

So let's see here... we get a car that accelerates like my old Ford Escort wagon (aka, badly), but will let me run to Austin and back on a single gallon of fuel, and is light enough for me and three other guys to simply pick it up and carry it across the street. The latter alone would knock it out of the running here in Texas, except that the shape is sufficiently aerodynamic that the chance of it being blown off the road by the wind should be pretty minimal. Most of it looks good: it's diesel (so it can exploit biodiesel or Fischer-Tropf down the road), it's CVT, and if the price-point holds, you can't beat that with a stick, in stark contrast to most of the more conventional alternatives.

There are problems, though... for one thing, it's a two-seater coupe. Well, for a vehicle that's strictly a commuter or pleasure car, that's okay, I guess, and I would **definitely** drive it, since most of my driving is highway where the slow acceleration can be easily mitigated by carefully selecting my on-ramps (in fact, assuming this car makes it past the concept stage, as soon as it goes public, I'm going to be seriously Jonesing for a test-drive). But it sure does down the possibility of doing a carpool. Of course at 330 mpg, the carpool itself could become an endangered species if it wasn't for the pleasure of long car conversations.

The other problem is its length... at 173 inches, we're talking about a full-sized SUV parking spot. Forget about driving this in the socially-conscious urban places where one's response to "Polski Fiat" is "ooh, I could find a parking space for that in only fifteen or twenty minutes..." balancing that out, it looks like the design should have a truly awesome turning radius.

Accelerated Composites is definitely onto something here. There's no reason a car should have to be limited to a standard 1950's-style box cockpit. If the parts are reliable, and the configuration can be tweaked in final release as some sort of hatchback configuration, it could even wind up being the "early Honda Hatchback" of the early 21st century: the car that all the pretty people laughed at, but which to this day has thousands of people gently easing their cars into their twelfth or even fifteenth year of operation, rather than replacing it with one of the more conventional designs to which the entire car industry has so shamelessly retreated.

This is definitely one to keep your eye on.

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