How to Ride a Bike

Cyclists can sometimes be their own worst enemies. I had to yell a month ago at four riders, taking up a whole lane on their expensive Felt cycles, to get over in a single-file line. They were chatting away, oblivious to the world. And three months ago, a family friend visited from New York. She made a turn into a hotel in Carlsbad and two cyclists hit her rental car from behind. They came around a turn too fast. Of course, I don’t condone what Emma Way did. She hit a cyclist and then tweeted about it. Bad form.

Fight Video Teen Found Safe

The town of Carlsbad sits not far from my house. And my heart sank when I read the story of the Carlsbad teenager, Baileigh Karam. Several folks from my Navy command live in the neighborhood. It is safe and quiet. Recently, Baileigh was involved in a fight that was captured on a cell phone. And then she dissapeared. Good news, she is back with her family, Amber Alert and all.

Aptera, A Car Company 10 Miles From My House, Goes Out of Business

Aptera, 3-Wheeled Electric Car from Carlsbad, California

Not more than 10 miles from my house, down a road near the Target I shop at, sits a car company that manufactures electric cars.

I don’t live in Detroit, but San Diego and the automobile company is known as Aptera. Perhaps I should amend that last sentence to read, the automobile company was known as Aptera before they went belly up:

Electric car maker Aptera has officially shut its doors, according to a letter from president and CEO Paul Wilbur (the letter is published in full onThe Chronicle’s blog). The company is “out of resources,” writes Wilbur, after spending years developing three-wheeled and four-wheeled versions of its all-electric unusual tear-drop shaped car.

Too bad. The design looked interesting. I am not a fan of electric cars. You can’t hear them. They are odd to drive; I kept thinking I had stalled when I had driven one. But still, I like to see local businesses succeed and for Aptera to shutter their doors has to hurt us. No less an authority than Popular Mechanics trumpeted the Aptera in 2007:

An Aptera electric car in San Francisco, California

This week we visited Aptera’s headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif., and became the very first outside of the company to hit the street in the Typ-1 e. And, as you can see from the video of our 20-mile test drive above, we’re impressed.

Aptera has two innovative models that are almost production-ready at $30,000 and below: for next year, the all-electric, 120-mile-range Typ-1 e that we drove; and, by 2009, the range-extended series gasoline Typ-1 h, which Aptera says will hit 300 mpg. A more conventional third model, called “Project X” or perhaps Typ-2, is now in the design phase, with plans for a four-wheeled chassis and seating up for to five passengers.

The car looked solid, perhaps somehow the business or production side got garbled. Back in 2009, they appeared to be on the path to possible success, despite lags in production:

The Trunk of an Aptera

Aptera plans to start production by the fourth quarter and says the car will have a list price between $25,000 and “the low 40s.” Something more specific will be nailed down once the company gets closer to the launch date, Wilbur says. As for what it’ll cost to drive, Wilbur says you’re looking at about a 1.5 cents a mile.

Wilbur says 3,500 people have placed $500 deposits for a car, which will be offered only in California to start. Florida and Texas are next on the list, with a national rollout to follow in late 2010 or early 2011.

The Aptera will be built in Southern California, and Wilbur says the factory will be able to turn out 20,000 cars a year.

1948 Tucker Sedan

The Aptera will remain a footnote in automobile history like the DeLorean and the Tucker, both beautiful cars in their own right.

DeLorean (DMC)

Interestingly enough, if you click on the DeLorean link above, it appears that the old DMC is still outfitting cars with refurbished or reproduction parts. Where is Doc Brown from Back to the Future? 1.21 Giga Watts!

Each of those glorious machines actually made it past the prototype phase and onto the showroom floor. The same can’t be said for my hometown Aptera. Would you have driven one?