A pointed excerpt from Wired’s account:
“The truth is, Aptera always faced long odds and has been in trouble for at least two years. The audience for a sperm-shaped, three-wheeled, electric two-seater was never anything but small. It didn’t help that production of the 2e — at one point promised for October 2009 — was continually delayed as Wilbur ordered redesigns to make it more appealing to the mainstream.
Aptera had a small window in which to be a first mover in the affordable EV space, and that window closed the moment the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt hit the market. At that point, Aptera teetered on the brink of irrelevance.”
While I like the idea of electric cars for city travel (I have one a bit more practical than that above) I’ll admit that they don’t make much sense for an everyday family car, and making a car that looks like something out of a Woody Allen movie puts an even greater damper on the marketability issue.
The reason that many electrics are three wheelers are due to arcane laws in the USA that allow three wheelers to be licensed as motorcycles, with no upwards spped limit or crash testing required, while four wheelers must be limited to 25mph (40km/hr) as NEV’s (Neighborhood Electric Vehicles) or must go through crash testing that cost upwards to half a million dollars. While Leaf and Volt have passed that (Since Nissan and GM have deep pockets) it leaves the smaller companies struggling to find a niche outside of the limited “Ed Begely Junior” market.
Here’s a look at Leaf and Volt EV sales in the US from The Daily Bayonet:
Nissan is still far in the lead with a grand total for the calendar year at 8720, though GM is slowly closing the gap at 6142 sales. Note that for comparison purposes, the 326 Volts sold in December 2010 are not included. To balance this, Volts which spontaneously combust are not deducted from total sales, despite the total loss of vehicle, and sometimes the home too.
Whether or not stories of fiery Volts will affect future sales remains to be seen, though for a car in its early stages of adoption to require complex ‘power-down’ procedures in the event of accidents isn’t a good sign. Imagine if Ford had advised Pinto owners to follow a protocol to drain the gas tank after a collision. Not good.