Accelerated Composites is developing a two seat, three wheeled hybrid car that is projected to get 330 mpg. The high mileage is made possible because the car is lightweight, weighing only 850 pounds and because it is extremely aerodynamic, having the lowest drag coefficient of any mass produced car. The company forecasts that the car will retail at $20 000.
The car named the Aptera TM, is made out of materials which give the car its incredibly light weight. Over 90% of the automobile will be composed of composites, including the seat structure, swing, and upper and lower control arms. The vehicle uses lightweight core throughout the sandwich panels, some of which use synthetic materials, while others are engineered natural products. Reinforcements used include carbon, glass and aramid (Kevlar) fibers.
Safety is not compromised despite the sleek look of the artist rendering. Its construction is based on the so-called driver-protection “crash box” that is typically used in Formula One motor racing. The area between the crash box and the body is filled with foam as a crush zone for increased safety of the passengers. The car, although technically classified as a motorcycle, will be equipped with air bags and seat belts. Rubber bumpers, not evident on the rendering, are blended into the front and back of the body to prevent damage from incidental contact with cars and curbs.
The car will powered by an off the shelf 12 horsepower single cylinder, air cooled, German made Hatz diesel engine weighing less than 50 pounds and a 25 horsepower electric motor. The Aptera has a true parallel drive meaning that the car can be driven by either the engine or the motor or by both. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) will be used. According to the founder and CEO Steve Fambro, ultracapacitors are preferred for starting and energy storage because of their light weight and rapid absorption of energy, but their use is dependent on obtaining favorable pricing. The prototype will be powered with a gasoline engine and use lead gauze batteries. Lead gauze batteries use lead gauze electrodes suspended in the electrolyte which improves their rate of absorption of energy and are lighter than conventional lead-acid batteries. Multiple batteries will be used in a 48 V system. Projected performance is 0 to 60 mph in 11 seconds. The car is presently configured for a 5 gallon fuel tank which would give the car a range of over a thousand miles. The automobile will be 4.3 m (173 inches) in length, with a front wheel track of 1.6 m (64 inches).
Presently the major automobile manufacturers have not converted to large-scale use of composites in their vehicles because “they haven’t figured out cost-effective manufacturing processes for composites,” Fambro notes. However, Accelerated Composites plans to use a proprietary composite construction that will significantly lower the cost of building the Aptera, compared with most other composite construction methods and even steel. The patent-pending process, called Panelized Automated Composite Construction (PAC2TM), brings all the benefits of composite construction to the masses: strong, lightweight, safe, corrosion proof structures that are significantly less costly that traditionally manufactured composites. This process can effectively be used with parallel assembly, and will also allow off the shelf engines and electric motors to be integrated cheaply.
The fully functional prototype is under construction and is approximately halfway complete. Plans are to have the prototype completed and running in March or April. The company expects to produce 1,500 cars in the first year and the Aptera to be in full-scale production within two to three years, if funding remains on schedule.
This is the kind of car that we need to have real conservation of our fossil fuels. Most cars travel only 22 miles a day and have only one or two passengers. The Aptera can be used on long trips as well. Sorry for the late post on this subject, their has been too much news in the last week to let me cover it all in a timely manner. I hope the additional information I obtained from Mr. Fambro will be a useful addition to Green Car Congess's earlier post.
Lightweight composite car will be cheap and safe, Performance-Materials website
Accelerated Composites LLC, Carlsbad, CA, USA (new website is under construction that will have pictures and updates on their progress)