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You are here: > News > Jan. 21, 2006

330 MPG Uber Hybrid?

The Aptera prototype, which is halfway to completion, will go for up to 330 miles on a gallon of gas thanks to an aerodynamic design and the lightweight composites that make up the chassis.

Compiled by Sterling D. Allan

The Aptera©, by Accelerated Composites, LLC

CARLSBAD, CA, USA -- Imagine driving across the United States on just one tank of gas.  That is what Accelerated Composites, formed by three San-Diego engineers purport to be developing.

They plan to sell a revolutionary hybrid two-seater car that they say can get up to 330 miles per gallon, and will sell for under $20,000.

They say that the lightweight composite car will post this fuel efficiency in normal city and highway driving and demonstrate acceleration and handling similar to that of a Honda Insight.

Dubbed the Aptera©, the vehicle achieves these remarkable numbers through the use of cutting-edge materials, manufacturing methods, and a maverick design that resembles a dolphin.


Unique, optimized aerodynamics gives the Aptera© a drag form factor that will be lower than any mass produced car in the world. "It looks like nothing you've ever seen," says Accelerated Composites founder and CEO Steve Fambro.

 "What we've done is changed the way cars are thought of and designed. Rather than designing to a styling aesthetic, like the big auto makers do, we hew to an efficiency and safety aesthetic. When you do that, math and physics mostly dictate the shape of the car, and in this case, math and physics look awesome."


Aerodynamics is only half of the equation. The other half is weight.

The Aptera© is made almost entirely of lightweight composites, making it one of the lightest cars on the road. Yet the company says that this savings does not come at the cost of safety. The construction of the car is based on the driver-protection "crash box" found in Formula One race cars. "Composites are enormously strong and lightweight," says Fambro. "That's why all the aircraft manufacturers are switching to them."


So why aren't the auto makers switching? "Cost" says Fambro. "They haven't figured out cost-effective manufacturing processes for composites. But we have."

The Aptera© utilizes proprietary composite construction that significantly lowers manufacturing cost when compared to most other composite construction methods, including steel. Many small companies are still building fiberglass and carbon-fiber vehicle parts by hand, using squeegees to force resin into the fiber layers inside a vacuum bag to ensure that air bubbles are completely extracted. This is time-consuming as well as labor-intensive.

The company's patent-pending "Panelized Automated Composite Construction", or PAC2©, lends itself to parallel assembly and has a very low initial capitalization. Additionally, AC's patent-pending hybrid technology allows off-the-shelf engines and electric motors to be seamlessly integrated for a very low cost.

Another reason the big automakers aren't jumping to composites is corporate inertia. "They have many billions of dollars invested in factories and infrastructure for making cars the old-fashioned way. They couldn't walk away from that if they wanted to. This is something that only a new company can do, and that's where we come in".

"We've got a perfectly-timed, market-busting product. We have a great team of world class engineers and designers, high-powered marketing and sales experience, and a solid business plan".

About Accelerated Composites

Accelerated Composites, LLC, is a Carlsbad-based startup that is disrupting the car design status quo by developing a low cost, 330 MPG hybrid car to be manufactured in Southern California.

Founder Steve Fambro said he built robots that made DNA before turning his attention to the automotive market. (Ref.)

# # #




Steve Fambro <email >
phone: 760.908.3051


Dolphin Shape and Mercedes Benz

Your mention of the dolphin-like shape brings to mind the boxfish car by Mercedes Benz. (Ref.) There is something about these marine animals and their hydrodynamics that lends itself to aerodynamics as well.

Bionic Car
Mercedes-Benz Bionic Concept Vehicle / © GCF

The story on Discovery about the Mercedes-Benz design indicated that the positive public response to it is prompting the car company to consider actual production. I know I'd like one of those! The Aptera is cute, but won't carry much in the way of stuff. Of course if loaded
down with cargo, it won't be as light weight and definitely won't get as good mileage.

And that's something to consider by way of marketing issues. It's going to be a great commuter car, though for families it's not suitable.

-- Mary-Sue Haliburton (Jan. 21, 2006)

Related Coverage

Startup Plans 330-MPG Hybrid
BusinessWeek - Jan 19, 2006
Accelerated Composites is a Carlsbad-based startup that aims to disrupt the car design status quo by developing a low cost, 330 MPG hybrid car to be ...

"A 330 mpg car for everyone"
Autoblog, CA - Jan 18, 2006
... Construction has begun for the first prototype. And yes, fuel consumption is estimated to be 330 mpg at 65 mph. More pictures after the jump. ...
"A 330 mpg car for everyone"
Autoblog, CA - Jan 18, 2006
... Construction has begun for the first prototype. And yes, fuel consumption is estimated to be 330 mpg at 65 mph. More pictures after the jump.
330 MPG! Aptera Hybrid Promises Amazing Mileage for Less Than ... Line, CA - Jan 19, 2006
— Accelerated Composites LLC, a small startup company here, said it is developing the Aptera, a two-seat hybrid passenger car delivering 330 mpg at a steady ...

EV World
Extreme Machine: 330 MPG Aptera
EV World, Nebraska - Jan 19, 2006
Steve Fambro and the guys at Accelerated Composites in Carlsbad, CA have a dream. It's a radically efficient machine classified ...
A 330 MPG Car for Everyone; Three San Diego Engineers Form Company ...
Autochannel - Jan 18, 2006
CARLSBAD, Calif.--Jan. 18, 2006--Accelerated Composites, LLC, has designed a two-seat passenger car that will achieve up to 330 MPG and sell for under $20,000. ...
Would you believe... 300 MPG!
Political Cortex, NY - Jan 20, 2006
Why am I interested in this little white 2 seater? Because it's projected to get 330 MPG that's why. Bring in this car, and forget the oil crisis. ...

See also

Page posted by Sterling D. Allan Jan. 17, 2006
Last updated December 24, 2014





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