Clean car round-up

Developments continue to pour in on the clean car front.

First up: the Aptera hypercar will be rolling off the factory floor in fall of 2009. The car has gone through a few design modifications. It’s now all-electric, rather than hybrid diesel. It’s also, inevitably, a bit more expensive than originally forecast, likely to be priced somewhere between $25,000 and $45,000. But it maintains its space-y two-seater design. And it can go from 0 to 60 in under 10 seconds, it tops out at 90 mph, and it can travel 120 miles on a single charge. What about fuel efficiency, you ask? Translated into familiar terms, The Aptera’s skimpy electricity use equates to a fuel efficiency of over 200 miles per gallon.

The Aptera achieves this feat, of course, by looking really weird, with an aerodynamic, pod-shaped body and only three wheels. Based on the waiting list of 4,000 buyers, the car should have no problem finding an early market. Let’s hope that when costs come down, hypercars can make the jump to the mainstream.

Next up: Better Place has raised $134 million network to build out its electric car network in Denmark.

Better Place has racked up an impressive string of partnership announcements recently. At last count, they’ve got deals in place in Israel, Denmark, Australia, California, Hawaii, and Ontario. What they don’t have is actual cars on roads. All of their announced deals are the first step in a process that involves raising a boatload of money and then building out a network of electric car charging stations. Raising money in the present economy isn’t the easiest task, so good to see Better Place making real progress toward its goals.

Finally: Toyota recently hinted at plans to release an all-electric vehicle in 2012 designed specifically for car-sharing programs.

This is a bit surprising, actually. Vehicles in car-sharing programs tend to get driven more than single-owner vehicles, so these services seem like bad candidates for limited range electric cars. On the other hand, car-sharing programs might be more willing than individual car buyers to invest in specialized recharging infrastructure to overcome the range problem.

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Anyhow, let’s assume, for the moment, that Toyota knows something I don’t. Certainly the idea of a car designed specifically for car-sharing services is a welcome one. Detroit in its current incarnation is pretty much dead, but I expect a new and more vital industry will replace it over the next few decades.

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