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Monday, September 14, 2009

Aptera Wants It Both Ways

In order to be able to build and sell a super-efficient vehicle legally, Aptera takes advantage of the federal motor vehicle regulations which consider their 3 wheeled vehicle to be a type of motorcycle, rather than an automobile. This means that the Aptera does not have to meet numerous FMVSS regulations, such as front and side impact standards or bumper requirements.

Now, Aptera also wants to get in on the Department of Energy loans that competitors Tesla and Nissan (Leaf) are taking advantage of. Problem is, the DOE program is explicitly for "automobiles", not "motorcycles".

The WSJ has a nice video on this subject:

Congressman Brian Billbray of California has proposed legislation which would extend DOE consideration to any enclosed passenger vehicle, removing the requirement for 4 wheels.

In my opinion, Aptera should fund their enviro-trike themselves, and not demand public funds, or they should be ready to pass the same stringent requirements that all their four wheeled competitors must pass. Otherwise, it is not a fair table. if GM knew that tricycles are acceptable, they may have developed one from the very beginning.


JimH said...

You might want to check for facts before reaching conclusions. They didn't design it to be a 3 wheeler to avoid automobile regulations. They did it to make it as efficient as possible.

They are doing the crash testing even though they don't need to do it.

I have seen people beat on the body with a sledge hammer without damage. Try that on a Hummer.

Anonymous said...


Just because they said they'd crash test it doesn't mean it will have to meet the standards. And, what crash tests are they going to do? Are they going to give copies to NHTSA to do the front and side impact tests, and let NHTSA publish the results?

If not, it's not a fair playing field.

Hitting the body with a baseball bat is cute, but it isn't a test that means much in terms of safety. You need to crash the vehicle at highway speeds.