Since electric vehicles first started hitting the mainstream, people have been asking “why doesn’t that have a solar panel roof?” The answer has always been the same: solar panels just don’t generate that much power. That’s not a huge problem for solar racers, with their ultra-light weight and super-aerodynamic shapes, but for the minuscule daily range a solar roof would give you on your typical daily driver, you’re still gonna need to plug it in.
Ah, but what if your daily driver was the closest thing on the road to a solar racer? An EV truly designed with ludicrous levels of efficiency as the primary goal? Something so aerodynamically slippery that it makes a mockery of the production car world? Well, that’s the Aptera. And its manufacturers claim that its 180 small solar panels, making up an area of more than three square meters (32.3 sq ft), will harvest enough energy that many drivers will never have to charge it.
The top-spec Aptera can self-generate as much as 45 miles (72 km) of range per day in ideal conditions, which is more than twice the average daily mileage of American car owners. And that doesn’t have to be a terribly large amount of energy, thanks to its extreme frugality.