The Car of the Future is Here


This morning, when I went to the bank to pay my credit card bill, I saw the latest prices for gasoline in Panama City, Panama (Central America). Prices are reaching the stratosphere:

  • Premium Gasoline – 95 Octanes: $3.88
  • Premium Gasoline – 91 Octanes: $3.61

Panamanians are buying smaller cars, motorcycles and scooters to make ends meet. Even traffic cops are using Korean scooters in an attempt to reduce their operating expenses.

The good thing about gasoline high prices is that it’s a strong incentive for more fuel-efficient vehicles. Electric or hybrid cars are excellent alternatives. Toyota is spending millions of dollars in R&D to manufacture these types of cars—Prius 08.

U.S. engineers are also burning the midnight oil in an effort to compete with Japanese or Korean high-mileage automobiles. A good example is the Aptera Typ-1 manufactured by Aptera Motors (formerly Accelerated Composites). Aptera Motors is a maker of high-efficiency vehicles based in San Diego, California.

Aptera’s first product, a three-wheeled two-seater named the Typ-1, is currently under development, though they are accepting pre-orders from California residents. The Typ-1 claims a fuel efficiency of 300 mpg at 55 mph making it one of the most fuel-efficient cars in the world. On several experimental tests, Aptera’s engineers have been able to get 340 mpg and expelled only 78 grams of greenhouse gases. You can’t beat this with a stick.

Aptera Motors claims acceleration from 0–60 mph in less than 10 seconds with a top speed over 85 mph. They have set the price at $26 900 for the all-electric Aptera Local , and $29 900 for the plug-in hybrid Aptera Everywhere.

The Aptera is a good example of how high gas prices are encouraging entrepreneurs to give the car business a try. From electric high-performance roadsters to low-speed runabouts, start-ups are trying to take advantage of interest in alternative technologies.

This concept car of the future has a unique design. The prototype features high-tech touches such as rear and side cameras instead of rear-view side mirrors to further reduce wind drag. There’s a solar panel on the roof to provide a bit of extra power.

Making the car out of laminates slashes its weight to about 1,500 pounds, making it potentially one of the lightest cars on the road. Less weight means longer range. The company also hopes to use off-the-shelf lithium phosphate batteries that are proven and safe.

Even though there is a lot of work left to be done, Aptera has an advantage when it comes to development time. The three-wheel design—two in front, one in back—means the resulting vehicle will be classified as a motorcycle in many states, including California. The testing and red tape required to market a motorcycle is less rigorous than for a four-wheel car. This means less time to leapfrog the competition.

Before production starts, managers are being issued copies of books detailing how Toyota cuts waste and encourages quality on assembly lines.

The goal is to produce two or three cars a week once production begins. The company expects to become profitable once production hits 160 vehicles.

This video from YouTube provides an excellent description of Aptera’s test drive. I’m already writing my Santa Claus letter way ahead of time. 🙂

9 thoughts on “The Car of the Future is Here”

  1. Hello Brian:

    They will start in California, and who know? Maybe it will cross the country to New Jersey. Have your wallet ready. 🙂

    Thanks for the link.

    Regards,

    Omar.-

  2. While the gas Prices are reaching the stratosphere here in Panama, other things are much cheaper than the US, you can take a cab for 1$ or a bus for .25 however I would much rather ride out a recession in Panama where beer is $0. 59 cents than anywhere else.

  3. Hello David:

    That’s right. The only problem is that U.S. wages are much higher than those in Panama.

    As far as beer is concerned, I remember that a bottle of Balboa beer sold for $0.25 in 1962. Forty-six years later, you can buy it for $0.30. That’s what I call a tightly controlled anti-inflation policy. 🙂

    Thanks for dropping by. Come back anytime, the red carpet is rolled out for you.

    Regards,

    Omar.-

  4. Hi Omar,

    I’m looking forward to my Aptera Xmas present in 2009. My friends reaction to this great concept is “good luck” because you’ll never receive it. Some oil or car company will make Aptera an offer they won’t be able to refuse.

    It is a fact that these oil companies do not want a vehicle produced that can travel 300 miles on a gallon of gas, it’s not good for “business”.

    Aptera has told me that they do intend to start delivering cars out by late 2008 and that they have no intention of selling out. I, and the rest of us that have our reservations can only hope that Aptera will come through. We won’t be able to thank them enough.

  5. Hi William:

    Good for you! This is one of the best-looking cars I’ve ever seen. Plus it’s mileage is 340 miles per gallon. Who can beat that? No wonder the oil companies are scared. They will be losing their business if this car takes the market by storm.

    As gasoline prices escalate, more and more entrepreneurs will go the extra mile in designing fuel-efficient cars. Mainstream car drivers can’t afford to pay $4.00 for a gallon of gasoline. No way, Jose.

    I know you will get your car for Christmas in 2009 and don’t believe the doom sayers. I have no reservations whatsoever about Aptera’s resolution to deliver cars by late 2008.

    When you get your car, will you write about it so we will know how good it is?

    Best of luck, William. Go ahead and pursue your dream.

    Regards,

    Omar.-

  6. My, God, how stupid are people? The oil companies don’t snatch up high mileage cars and neither do customers. Thats why they don’t make them. The Geo Metro weighed 1600 pounds, got 55 MPG, and seated 4. It was a great little car. They made it for nearly 20 years and barely broke even with it. Its not that people don’t want good gas mileage, its that they want other things more. The thing people like best about the BMW MINI is gas mileage. Chief complaints? To small and underpowered. The biggest complaints are the CAUSE of the thing that people like best.

  7. Hello Truthwalker:

    “Its not that people don’t want good gas mileage, its that they want other things more.”

     Your statement is true when the scenario was “cheap gas”.  At $10.00 or $20.00 a gallon, I’m sure people will want “cheaper gas” more than other things.  In Panama, people are buying small Korean cars and Chinese scooters to get to work.  They just cant afford cars with more features and lower mileage. Ouch!

    Regards,

    Omar.- 

     

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