Electric vehicle enthusiasts from around the globe were charged up at the San Diego Convention Center Sept. 10-11 for the San Diego premier of Fully Charged Live, the world’s top home energy and EV show.
The two-day event featured EV test drives from a variety of auto makers; expert panels on everything from charging stations to sustainable home electrification; an EV learning center with fun and educational activities for families; and a micro-mobility test track for electric bikes and skateboards.
The event also served as a platform for the unveiling of local EV company Aptera’s latest prototype of its three-wheel, solar-powered vehicle, which was a major highlight of the show.
San Diego North America Hub
Fully Charged began as a podcast show and YouTube channel 17 years ago hosted by CEO and founder Robert Llewellyn.
“It’s a super popular channel internationally,” said Kevin Leap, North America director for Fully Charged. The show, hosted from Llewellen’s native United Kingdom, draws 2.5 million viewers a month for its two shows a week on EVs and sustainability technologies.
Fully Charged held its first live event in the UK four years ago. The first U.S. show was held in Austin, Texas in 2020 before the COVID pandemic put the shows on hold. The popular in-person events started back up this year with shows in April held in the UK and Amsterdam. San Diego was the only U.S. show scheduled for this year.
“We decided to move to Southern California because it’s such a hotbed for EVs and clean energy,” Leap said, adding that San Diego is now the official North America hub for Fully Charged. Other cities being looked at for hosting events in 2024 include Chicago and Miami, Leap added.
The Fully Charged event featured booths from over 100 vendors across a variety of home electrification and EV companies. Display vehicles from Tesla, VinFast, Fisker, ElectraMeccanica and LiveWire as well as EV models from traditional car companies like Ford, Toyota, Hyundai, Honda and Chevy gave attendees a chance to familiarize themselves with vehicles already on the market.
But on Saturday morning, the major attraction was the unveiling of Aptera’s Gamma prototype, which drew a large and excited crowd to the Aptera booth.
“In the auto industry, there are iconic vehicles that define the era. A Model T, you don’t have to hear the word Ford. Beetle, you don’t have to hear the word VW. Mini, you don’t have to hear the word BMW. From now on, this is the concept for the EV age,” said Munro & Associates CEO and auto industry veteran Sandy Munro, who has been advising Aptera on scaling up for production.
Aptera co-founder and Co-CEO Chris Anthony described the new Aptera prototype as “an exercise in bleeding edge engineering” and “a hundred-watt-hour-per-mile dream” with up to 40 miles a day in free solar charging.
“For the average driver, you would never have to plug the Aptera in. It’s just free mobility,” he said.
The new Gamma prototype includes more aerodynamics with a lower and “more pointy” nose and wheel pans that were “drastically redesigned” for more seamless air flow, Anthony said.
The new model has “a much more comfortable interior space” with a lower seat and a raised corner above the head. The vehicle is also now longer by four inches for more rear storage.
“A lot of people see picture on the internet and think the Aptera is small,” Anthony said. “The Aptera is not small. It’s as wide as a Tesla Model S and it’s as long as a Prius.”
Other improvements in the Gamma include a unique design for air vents and a charging port that is “the most elegant in the game,” Anthony said.
Although the Gamma looks “very production like,” Anthony said., Aptera still has work to do with its supply chain before the car is ready to “barnstorm production” and deliver cars to the over 30,000 preorder customers.
“That’s really what the next stage is,” he said, adding that Aptera’s Delta prototype will be a “fully production-contented vehicle” and is expected to be completed “closer to the end of this year.”
In addition to Aptera, many San Diego-based companies and groups were present to share their own innovations and contributions to the EV and home electrification industry.
Kevin Haines, CEO of Bella Electric and GO EV San Diego said he has seen the growth in the electrification industry firsthand over the last 15 years – starting with solar projects with Bella and now expanding into home EV charging stations with GO EV. “Things are just starting to come to fruition and its very, very exciting,” he said. “The fact that it’s finally coming around and we’re at this trade show, it means a lot to us.”
ChargeNet Stations founder and CEO Tosh Dutt, who in addition to having a vendor booth at Fully Charged was also a panelist on a discussion about the basics of EVs, their infrastructure needs and where the gaps are to meet market demand. “The most glaring one being maintenance,” he said.
Other San Diego companies and groups at the event included Poseidon AmphibWorks, SDG&E, San Diego Green Building Council, San Diego Building Electrification Coalition and San Diego Community Power, San Diego Bikes and San Diego Electric Skateboards.
Although not there to exhibit, Ron Dutt, CEO of local EV battery company Flux Power, said events like Fully Charged show off the evolution and growth of EV vehicles and its technology.
“You see this happening in all the corners of our economy – it’s pretty exciting,” he said.