The rebooted Aptera Motors has teamed with Elaphe Propulsion Technologies on a long-range, volume production electric vehicle powered by in-wheel motors. Aptera, initially known as Accelerated Composites, formed in 2005 to bring highly efficient, three-wheeled vehicles to the market (earlier post), went out of business in 2011.
Now resurrected, with members of the original management team (Steve Fambro and Chris Anthony as co-CEOs) back at the helm, Aptera is targeting an electric three-wheeler that will travel more than 1,000 miles on a single charge with an energy usage of less than 100 Wh/mile. As a comparison, the standard range 2019 Tesla Model 3 consumes 250 Wh/mile (25 kWh/100 miles, according to the US EPA) while the 2019 Tesla Model X Performance uses 430 Wh/mile (43 kWh/100 miles).
In-wheel-motor technology affords Aptera advantages that would be impossible with other propulsion systems: enhanced aerodynamics, lighter overall vehicle weight and much-improved handling, resulting in industry-leading mileage and safety.
In combination with Aptera’s already low-drag aerodynamics and lightweight construction, Elaphe’s compact, high-torque in-wheel motors enable the sub-100 Wh/mile energy usage target, according to the Aptera team.
Precise torque vectoring maximizes aerodynamics by allowing small steering changes to be made at speed without having to physically turn the wheels, leaving airflow around Aptera’s front suspension undisturbed. Vector steering control likewise eases slow-speed turning without the need for bulky power steering.
Finally, the system ensures optimal driving and parking performance in even the most difficult of conditions, including ice and snow.
In recent track testing, Elaphe achieved a sub 3.5 sec 0-100 km/h acceleration time—the fastest ever recorded for such an application.
In May, Elaphe announced it will begin low-volume series manufacturing of the world’s highest performance direct drive, gearless in-wheel powertrain system, the L1500.
The Elaphe L1500 in-wheel motor achieves the highest torque densities of electric motors on the market, generating 1500 N·m of torque without using any gears. A single in-wheel motor can achieve a power output of more than 110 kW (147 HP) and fits inside a 19-inch or larger wheel rim. The L1500 motor is compatible with all drive layouts—rear wheel drive, front wheel drive and four—or more—wheel drive vehicles.
Elaphe is a perfect match for Aptera. We provide the packaging versatility and turning needed to enable Aptera’s industry-best efficiencies. Our technology integrates seamlessly with their Co-Pilot autonomous driving solution, providing feedback data, unprecedented responsiveness and enhanced vehicle control in any driving condition. Having tested Aptera’s first vehicles back in 2010, it’s great to finally collaborate.—Elaphe CEO, Gorazd Lampič
Never Charge. Aptera also plans to introduce Never Charge, an integrated solar-charging option. The company claims that this will be the first solar vehicle-charging system capable of meeting well over the mileage needs of most drivers.
The modest solar complement integrated into the surface of the Aptera’s body can supply up to 40 miles’ worth of power per day with no impact on performance, the company says.
Never Charge will allow drivers to use the excess power they generate to run their homes or feed it back to the grid at night. It also precludes Aptera from having to incorporate a rapid-charging solution into the vehicle or build out a proprietary charging network, the company says.
Initially available as part of a special-edition package, Never Charge will ultimately be an option for any Aptera vehicle. Option details and pricing will be announced in coming months, prior to the start of pre-orders.