How the Aptera Hybrid Works

Aptera Safety

Two wheels in front and one in back help eliminate any tendency for the Aptera to roll over.
Two wheels in front and one in back help eliminate any tendency for the Aptera to roll over.

The folks at Aptera Motors take safety seriously -- a good decision, since the Apt­era classified as a three-wheel motorcycle. Many people have reservations about these types of motorcycles because of their dangerous tendency to roll over.

When automakers experimented with this design in the past, they usually worked with a delta formation -- one wheel in the front and two wheels in the back. The problem with the delta formation has to do with what's called a velocity vector. Every moving object has its own velocity vector. The velocity vector of a car driving north on a highway can simply be described as north -- think of an imaginary line pointing straight from the front of the vehicle. If you turn to the left, however, the vector velocity shifts, and shifting too far outside of the wheelbase when turning can flip a delta configuration. A tadpole formation like the Aptera's -- two wheels in front and one wheel in back -- will keep a vehicle’s velocity vector between those two front wheels and significantly decrease chances of rolling over.

In addition to the wheel placement, the Aptera's been given a low center of gravity and traction control to greatly reduce the risk of rolling over. Race cars, for instance, also have low centers of gravity, because the weight of the car needs to overcome the force it experiences from turning corners at high speeds. SUVs, on the other hand, typically have higher centers of gravity and tend to roll over more easily.

Crash tests have also proven successful, as the Aptera exceeded strength requirements for rollover and frontal impact requirements. The safety cage in the front of the vehicle gets its inspiration from Formula One race cars, which can easily reach speeds of up to 200 mph.