Can you save the world by driving a green composite car?

By Jessica Thurston

I want to save the world. And so, I really want an Aptera.

I want to be a sort of opinion-writing, pink-moccasins-wearing, buggy-driving rock star who travels around the world and designs uber-green and self-sustaining cities. To do all that, I’m going to need a getaway car that’s as manageable and efficient as the work I’m trying to create.

And so, I really want an Aptera.

Created by Steve Fambro and Chris Anthony, the Aptera is a car that is super light, super environmentally friendly and super awesome-looking.

Imagine a sleek, rounded, beam-like shape that rests on two front wheels and one rear wheel, all three of which are covered by smooth fairings that continue the shape of the vehicle. At first only available in California, the Aptera is classified by that state as a motorcycle (although you don’t need a motorcycle license to drive it).

It has three large windows for increased visibility, two of which are mounted within its wicked DeLorean-esque gull-wing doors. It’s “Back to the Future” meets buggy.

I won’t lie. The Aptera is to me, an over-the-top buggy aficionado, kind of like a grown-up version of my own tiny composite vehicle (composites being products made of two materials that, once bonded, have a high strength-to-weight ratio), one that could take me past the limits of Tech and Frew streets and out into the growing world of green practices and sustainable design.

The Aptera began as a concept to unite aerodynamics, automotive engineering and composite technology into a fuel-efficient, safe car that could have practical, daily use. It’s definitely small, designed to hold only two passengers (but with ample storage space in the rear).

But the fact that this highly designed, highly publicized car is so small and lightweight is incredibly important to the future of personal travel vehicles.

Smaller cars, in being lightweight, use less gas and thus reduce carbon emissions. Several small, energy-efficient vehicles such as the Mitsubishi iMiEV and the Toyota IQ Car are gaining popularity among the general public.

Their popularity is limited due to the overwhelming size of SUVs that dominate our nation’s roadways which makes lightweight cars seem smaller and potentially dangerous by comparison. If more people lean toward purchasing smaller cars, SUVs will retain less dominance.

This is where the Aptera shines. This mega-solid composite vehicle, which can get more than 300 miles per gallon, is going to be available to Californians later this year, and for less than $30,000. In fact, you can even reserve your own at It is really laudable that such a high-performing system is finally going to breach the boundary between the conceptual world of automotive engineering and the physical world of the public market.

With the Aptera, we’re getting somewhere – and though I may have to move to California to get one, maybe it will act as my second buggy, my next step to get me from city to city and place to place, wearing my pink moccasins the whole way.