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Aptera's 'never-charge' solar car has us feeling all sorts of skepticism

An electric car that runs exclusively on solar power? That... poses some big hurdles.

Aptera Paradigm solar EV
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Aptera Paradigm solar EV

One more time with feeling.

Aptera

Aptera is a name many likely don't know, but if you do, you know the vehicle projects associated with the startup come with big ol' grains of salt. And if you thought Aptera was dead and gone, that's not the case after liquidation in 2011. It's back as of 2019 and last week, it introduced the company's next plans: a solar car.

The Paradigm solar electric vehicle, or SEV as Aptera called it, promises a range of 1,000 miles on a single charge with super advanced solar panels onboard. The 180 panels supposedly suck up enough energy to drive 45 miles per day. But, let's just think about how long the car needs to sit in the sun to actually make that happen. There's a very good reason solar panels don't have a prominent role in today's hybrids and EVs.

Nevertheless, Aptera thinks its technology, although light on details, will be the game changing tech for a breakthrough in efficiency it promised since 2005 at the company's founding. The solar energy drives electric motors that will take the car to 110 mph. No power ratings are available yet, though Aptera said the car will be ultra slippery with a drag coefficient of 0.13.

As we've seen with so many startups, building cars is hard. Even Tesla's Elon Musk admits its profit margins are actually super, super slim. Aptera said in its announcement it also believes it cracked the manufacturing code to build its SEV in a cost-efficient way. The entire car is, according to the company, made up of just four major pieces. But we all know it takes much more to build a production vehicle.

If you want to place your faith in Aptera, anyone can make a refundable $100 deposit on the car before the company puts the car into production in 2021. That's the goal, at least. Prices? That's obscure, too. The company said the most expensive version will cost $46,900-plus, so who knows how much that actually is. It does promise, however, a version with far less range for $25,900. We'll see how things shake out this time around.

Aptera Paradigm wants to rethink EVs

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Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.

Article updated on December 9, 2020 at 9:43 AM PST

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sean-szymkowski-headshot
Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
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