WHAT MAKES A GREEN CAR A GREEN CAR?
by Bruce Mulliken, Green Energy News
Does it matter whether a car has two, three or four wheels? A car is an enclosed vehicle designed to carry a few people, but not many. Does it matter how many wheels and tires it rolls on?
Aptera Motors submission to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Incentive Program (ATVMIP) was rejected on December 31, 2008 because the program was initially drafted to only include passenger vehicles, which, by federal definition then, have four wheels.
Aptera’s all-electric 2e has no need for the redundant fourth wheel: It gets in the way, adds weight and aerodynamic drag. Three wheels help the 2e deliver the equivalent of up to 250 miles per gallon.
Aptera could accelerate national introduction of its 2e with federal loans.
With a signature by President Obama, Aptera will reapply for a federal loan under the ATVMIP. And it should get it. Possibly millions. The law, approved as a part of an energy and water appropriations bill, was originally sponsored by Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and received overwhelming bipartisan approval in the House and Senate. It stipulates that any manufacturer of enclosed two- or three-wheeled vehicles that carry at least two people and get 75 miles per gallon are now eligible for DOE funding. The 2e meets those requirements.
Other manufacturers already have loan approval from DOE.
Tesla has $465 million to accelerate the production of affordable, fuel-efficient electric vehicles. Of that $365 million is for production engineering and assembly of the Model S.
Fisker Automotive was recently approved for a conditional loan of $528 million by DOE in the ATVMIP program. The company must meet certain very specific milestones before DOE gives the go ahead for Treasury to write checks to the company. Fisker has announced it will buy an idle GM Saturn plant near Newport, Delaware to build an as yet undeveloped car dubbed NINA. It will use $18 million of the conditional loan to buy the facility and another $175 million to refurbish the plant to build that car by 2012. Fisker expects 75,000 to 100,000 NINAs per year to come off the Delaware assembly line by 2014, with half of those put on boats for overseas delivery.
Ford has a whopping $5.6 billion in the same program to be used for a variety of greener cars and Nissan has been approved for $1.6 billion for the production of the all-electric Leaf and its battery packs.
Aptera plans to enter full production in 2010 of the two-passenger Aptera 2e. The company expects to directly employ 3000 people and create thousands of support roles for American workers from auto parts and components companies.
The 2e, with a planned price range of $25,000 - $40,000 (the lower price for the all-electric version) will require no unique charging infrastructure, traveling 100 miles on batteries charged through a conventional 110 volt or 220 volt household outlet.
Of all the hyper energy efficient offerings by many manufacturers Aptera stands out for good reason. One, with a shape akin to an airplane it looks like a car of the future. (The others look dated beside it.) And, if Aptera can come through on its promised pricing it should be affordable to many. (Maybe me.) While at this time Aptera hasn’t said whether the 2e will be eligible for the $7500 federal tax credit that electric vehicles from other manufacturers will be getting, but the new ruling should allow buyers of the 2e to get the credit. We’ll see. If the credit is possible the effective price for the 2e will be $17,500. That’s a price that should attract many.
The new ruling may begin to open doors for the introduction of many varieties of futuristic,energy efficient automotive designs. Aptera isn’t the only company that thinks that four wheels are too many.