The first production vehicle from Aptera, a company developing a solar-powered, futuristic-looking passenger automobile, has been unveiled and is expected to leave the factory this year.
The business claims that the two-passenger, three-wheeled, all-wheel-drive car will have a range of 400 miles, a 0-60 mph time of four seconds, and a top speed of 101 mph. Despite being mostly solar-powered, the Aptera vehicle can also be charged from a regular 120-volt outlet.
Based on the daily average of 29 miles, the business claimed that the average American driver would never need to plug in, even in a region with a lot of sun exposure, like Southern California.
Drivers may need to plug in roughly three times each year in areas with medium sun exposure, like New York or Chicago. An overnight charge should provide 150 miles of travel at 13 mph.
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More Than an Electric Car
In the meantime, Lightyear, a maker of a more conventional-looking passenger car, declared on Monday that it was pausing manufacturing of the $250,000 Lightyear 0 solar-powered car in favour of the Lightyear 2 model, which is anticipated to go on sale for under $40,000 and have a 500-mile range.
Lex Hoefsloot, the CEO and co-founder of Lightyear, said in a statement: “Recently, we established a waitlist for Lightyear 2, resulting in more than 40,000 memberships from individual customers, and we already had almost 20,000 pre-orders from fleet owners.”
In order to scale up to Lightyear 2, an affordable solar electric car accessible to a wider audience, “we intend to complete some major investments in the next weeks,” he added.
According to Chris Jones, chief analyst of the international market research firm Canalys, Lightyear 0 was never intended to serve more than a few hundred consumers; instead, it was intended to be a demonstration of what is possible with solar power.
According to Jones of TechNewsWorld, “it was hoped that these powerful, wealthy, early adopter clients would become evangelists to help generate awareness for what is a new vehicle category.”
For its anticipated 2025 launch, the second model from Lightyear, he claimed, “will be priced in the sweet spot for EVs.” We’ll see the entire reveal this year, but for now, know that it has five seats and looks like a car.
A Decent Appearance
On the other hand, Aptera has chosen a less conventional, more radical appearance, he added. “Customers will find it less appealing as a design,”
He characterised Aptera’s announcement that it would start producing cars this year as “ambitious,” especially given the fact that it would require money very soon if it wanted to achieve that objective.
Sam Abuelsamid, lead analyst for e-mobility at Guidehouse Insights, a market research firm in Detroit, who has been following Aptera since 2007, said: “2023 is a terrible moment to be soliciting financing.”
According to Abuelsamid, “companies that are far better established are currently having a hard time, so I don’t have much trust that Aptera will get to the point of delivering any significant number of vehicles this year.”
Aptera may wish to distribute SPEVs outside of North America if it can begin doing so this year.
“Vehicular san Permis” in Breif
According to Roger C. Lanctot, director for automotive linked mobility at the international research, consultancy, and analytics company Strategy Analytics, some European countries and Southeast Asian markets are better suited for such cars.
For instance, the French government runs a programme called “véhicule san permis” that enables drivers without licences to drive cars with fewer safety criteria.
Although there might not yet be a big market, Lanctot told TechNewsWorld that there is a demand for solar-powered cars.
He continued by saying that Aptera will probably need to use vehicle sharing to introduce people to the idea of solar-powered transportation.
A Surplus Of Angles
The automobiles made by Aptera can have further issues after they are sold. The Enderle Group, an advisory services company in Bend, Oregon, is led by Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst.
“Their technology is pretty much cooked, but the weight disparity and relative flimsiness of their design will create problems for them in the market,” Enderle said.
The Aptera provides better protection than a motorcycle, but after the first accident happens, he predicted, interest in the vehicle will wane.
Aptiva Being Unique On It’s Own
Enderle argued that more work needed to be done on solar technology before it can be utilised to power a car that resembles a typical one. To even have a chance of getting solar to work, the vehicle’s weight and size must be reduced, he said.
Given how much lighter Aptiva is, he continues, “the design doesn’t look like it would perform well in a multi-car collision.” Photovoltaic cells have a peak producing efficiency at a relatively narrow angle of the sun, according to Abuelsamid. They produce very little energy at greater angles.
Solar Cells Quite Minimal
The cells are at all different angles, and the car itself might be in an endless number of locations with respect to the sun because a vehicle normally doesn’t have many flat surfaces.
In order to lessen the pressure on the battery, he added, “Solar cells are probably most beneficial for supplemental power such as powering climate control and other devices.”
Its useable surface area for cells is quite minimal for a small car like the Aptera.
Compromises Are Required
However, 70% of all car excursions, according to Lanctot, are between 6 and 12 miles long.
So solar energy may be a really practical answer, he explained, which is why businesses like Sono Motors and Squad Mobility are entering the market.
Forced to Make Concessions
However, 70% of all car excursions, according to Lanctot, are between 6 and 12 miles long. So solar energy may be a really practical answer, he explained, which is why businesses like Sono Motors and Squad Mobility are entering the market.
German-based Sono Motors produces a car that can be charged simultaneously by the sun, an electrical outlet, or both. The car’s battery has a range of 190 miles, but its solar range is just 70 miles each week. It has an 86 mph max speed.
Squad produces a two-seater solar-powered car with a top speed of 27 mph and a four-seater car with a top speed of 44 mph. The vehicles have a daily range of 12 kilometres.
“With solar, you are compelled to compromise in some way,” said Lanctot.
He stated, “Sono and Squad sacrifice safety to deliver a lower price. “Lightyear made a very expensive pricing sacrifice to offer ICE/EV performance parity.
In order to achieve a reduced price and acceptable performance, Aptera makes an aesthetic compromise—three wheels—while also sacrificing interior room.
For each of these vehicles, there is a market niche, but that niche has the restrictions that comes with it, he added.
“The Nissan Leaf was met with considerable scepticism when it began because to its restricted range, but it found a firm place in the market and remains popular,” said Lanctot.
There is undoubtedly a market for solar vehicles, but for Aptera, Sono, and Squad, it probably only amounts to tens of thousands of vehicles, not millions.