March 18th, 2008

lego me

aztec lives!

Back in my days with the solar car team, we developed a two-passenger solar-assisted electric vehicle called Aztec. By competition electric vehicle standards, it was a luxury ride with ample shoulder room and broad seats (but no cupholders). Its stripped-down efficiency gave it the range to drive real-world distances on a minimalist battery pack. When we displayed it at Earth Day and other eco-events, inevitably some patchouli-scented activist would congratulate us on our engineering prowess and claim that our efforts were proof that Detroit and Big Oil were conspiring to keep green transport down. I didn't have the heart to tell them that our design was thoroughly impractical for real-world use for reasons of production cost, crashworthiness, and its lack of amenities. We estimated that making the car roadworthy would cost $30k and nobody in their right mind would pay so much for a glorified motorcycle. Ha! Ha!

That was then. Not much has happened in the last 10 years from a technical standpoint. Batteries suck slightly less. Composite structures are slightly cheaper to build. But someone seems to think that the consumer demand now exists, because the team at Aptera has pretty much gone ahead and built a roadworthy Aztec for $30k. I suspect that the hybrid gas-electric model will be more popular than the all-electric version which would be Aztec's true successor. Either way, I'll be following their launch closely. Oh, and from the FAQ:

Are there cup holders?
Yes there are.