Vista home to car of the future

VISTA — Move over, Prius. So long, Volt. The 2010 Aptera 2e two-seat electric vehicle promises to bring affordable, environmentally conscious driving to the common man. And it’s going to be made right here in Vista.
Aptera opened up its Vista offices and assembly line in October 2008 with an eye toward first production in the final quarter of this year. The exotic three-wheeled 2e plugs into the wall and drives 100 miles on a charge. Its top speed is 90 mph, it handles like a sports car, and it’s a guaranteed ticket into the freeway HOV lane. Aptera has already received 4,000 pre-orders for the car whose price starts at $25,000.
The word “Aptera” is Greek for “wingless,” but the Aptera 2e’s unique, hyper-streamlined shape looks as if it would be more at home in the air than on the road. Marques McCammon, Aptera’s chief marketing officer, explained that the company flipped the typical body design process upside down. Most auto manufacturers start with a style and form first and then test its efficiency in a wind tunnel. Aptera started with the wind tunnel first and found the most efficient way to move two people from one place to another. The result was a design both elegant and striking.
“It’s incredible,” Marketing Specialist Emily Mizutani said. “You drive to the local Starbucks and everyone, little kids and adults, are just drawn to the vehicle. It has such a magnetism.”
“Nature has a knack for making things attractive,” McCammon said. “If you let nature lead a little bit, you usually end up with a form that’s not too hard on the eyes.”
The 2e excels in form as well as function, cutting through the air twice as efficiently as most cars, almost three times better than an SUV. This means the Aptera design will use less fuel regardless of what power train moves it, be it electricity, gas or diesel. McCammon said there is an Aptera in the works which will get 100 miles to the gallon.
“I put 100,000 of those on the road, it’s like taking half a million plus normal passenger cars off the road,” McGammon said. “I’m not talking about Hummers. I’m talking Civics.”
Aptera founder Steve Fambro is as unusual as his automobile. He started the company in Carlsbad in 2006 not necessarily to make money or save the world but to tackle the intellectual challenge of building the most efficient car in the world at a time when oil prices were just starting to skyrocket.
“I thought, there’s no reason we couldn’t use the same technology for Spaceship 1, new aircraft design, whatever, to design a super efficient vehicle that’s safe and comfortable,” Fambro said. “It went from an intellectual curiosity to monopolizing my life, and then trying to figure out how to make a business model out of it so I could get paid for it.”
His company has now grown to include nearly 100 employees. Like the vehicles it makes, it is an efficient company running lean on resources and high on creativity. There is a strong family feeling and a sense of camaraderie.
“They’re a fabulous company,” Chamber of Commerce CEO Paul O’Neal said. “Not just the product, but the management team. They have aces people working for them.”
More information on the Aptera 2e can be found at the Aptera Motors Web site at www.aptera.com.

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