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Super-Charged Futuristic Car Takes on Fuel Problem

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Video Topics:  Aptera Typ-1

Super-Charged Futuristic Car Takes on Fuel Problem

Tony Budny
March 27, 2008



1:37
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An upstart car company in the United States is seeking to take advantage of rising oil prices. Aptera has produced a three-wheeled vehicle that can reach speeds of 136 kilometers per hour and operate on little gasoline. VOA's Tony Budny has the story in today's Searching for Solutions report.

The vehicle looks like it comes from outer space, but Aptera executive Chris Anthony says, fear not. His company's new Typ-1 car runs on common household electricity, not jet fuel. "It doesn't require a special charger,” Anthony said. "We got a charger installed in every home in America. Just plug it in to your 110 [volt electrical] outlet."

Aptera has already received deposits from some 1,100 customers wanting an electric Typ-1, and deliveries begin later this year. Aptera plans to produce another Typ-1 model, a gas-electric hybrid that the company says could get nearly 131 kilometers per liter of gasoline.

Aptera founder Steve Fambro says, "It'll give around 300 miles per gallon [127 kilometers per liter] for the first 100 miles [62 kilometers]. And it goes down to around 130 miles per gallon [34 kilometers per liter] as you deplete the batteries."

The car looks fragile, but it is made out of a molded composite material that the company says is half the weight of steel and 10 times as strong. "It's very, very, very strong and can stand up to the durability of a Formula One style crash," explains Chris Anthony.

Aptera also uses space-age design inside the car. It has a touch screen system for navigation, a climate control system powered by solar panels, and a relatively large storage area. Recycled plastic makes up much of the interior. And cameras aid the driver's view around the car instead of mirrors.

So how much does a car that can do all this cost? Around $30,000 - but, if it performs to expectations, Aptera hopes customers will consider it worth the price.



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