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Half-Done Dream: 330 MPG Vehicle

A Carlsbad-based startup has the answer for those steadily increasing gas prices.

Accelerated Composites, LLC said Jan. 18 it has designed a two-seat passenger car that can achieve up to 330 miles per gallon and could be priced less than $20,000.

A hybrid gasoline and electric engine would power the new car, dubbed the Aptera. It’s made of cutting-edge composite materials, takes advantage of advanced manufacturing methods, and uses a hyper-aerodynamic bubble design, according to designer Steve Fambro.

“I started designing the car about two years ago, and I wanted to create something that was as fuel-efficient as possible,” said Fambro, a 38-year-old electrical engineer who formed Accelerated Composites with two other engineers about a year ago.

The Aptera is made almost entirely of lightweight composites, but Fambro said safety isn’t compromised because the design includes a driver protection “crash box” found in Formula One racing cars.

The factors that permit the car to get about 330 miles per gallon are the lightweight composites and a shape that lowers the car’s drag coefficient to minimal levels, Fambro said.

The engine can climb to a maximum horsepower of 35, and the car can reach a maximum speed of 95 mph, he said.

The technology for creating the Aptera has been available to Detroit automakers, but they’re likely not going to touch it, said Fambro.

“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,” he said.

Fambro and his partners have the prototype Aptera about halfway completed, but are seeking about $250,000 in investment capital to get the first car made.

Assuming he finds it, that should be by April, he said.

Fambro said he got the idea of making a super gas-efficient vehicle after trying to buy a Prius, the Toyota hybrid, and finding out there was a six-month waiting list.

“I said that’s incredible, and knew that this is the right time and the right place to do this,” Fambro said.

, Mike Allen


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