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I just finished reading an article in the New York Times about the new Ford Fusion Hybrid. I am not sure what aggravates me more: Ford, the company that invented the automobile over 100 years ago touting their new hybrid that gets 39 MPG over all, or the “legitimate press” perpetuating the idea that a car with a milage rating at that level is desirable. Think people! The automobile is over 100 years old! Why are we stuck in this black hole where innovation is concerned? The greed-heads in Detroit are the problem. Retooling costs money. If you retool it cuts into profit margins and we all know what that means… no new executive jet for the CEO this quarter. Yeah, I know Gulf Streams are not on the minds of the beleaguered auto executives right now, but that is the way it was for years and it is why we are in the mess we are in now. And the fact that our news papers are still spewing the party line only reminds me Nero fiddling while Rome burned.

100 years of improvements to styling shoe boxes doesn’t cut it anymore. And for everyone out there that thinks they will look silly driving a car like the Aptera because it doesn’t look like your idea of what a car should look like (shoe box) you are behind the curve and throwing fuel on the already burning Rome that Detroit has become.

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I took on the name buzzkill about 4 years ago when a once great television network called Tech TV was killed by it’s new owner Comcast. I was angry and felt cheated when they canceled all the great technology shows. I got kicked out of the chat rooms under my original chat name, so I took on the name buzzkill as a symbolic gesture to let people know they were not going to get happy talk out of me. Although I stopped the sort of activities that got me booted by the moderators the first time around, I did maintain a constant level of surliness in my dialogue when speaking of the changes to the network now called G4. The experience was cathartic. I made myself an annoyance. A “troll” if you will. I don’t think I was a true Internet troll in the strictest sense of the word. A true troll creates discourse just for their own entertainment and believe me, I was not entertained. I wanted to kill the buzz the Comcasters were feeling at gaining their latest acquisition because they had destroyed yet another technology network. Like a serial killer looking for similar traits in their victims, they had purchased Jones Intercable in 1998 which operated a network called Mind Extension University or ME/U for short. There were many great programs on that network. Like Tech TV, it entertained and educated. Now both of them have faded to black.

My late mother once said to me that out of everything bad that happens, comes something good. With reference to the above story, the thing that was good for me and many others was that the people that made Tech TV great moved on to start their own IPTV networks like Leo Laporte’s TWIT TV and Kevin Rose’s Revision 3 and Digg. This was great for them and for me because they are now doing their own thing in their own way and they are moving in directions the monolithic network environment would not have allowed them to go.

Speaking of monoliths, how bout’ them Big Three auto makers going down the tubes? If my statement seems callous, forgive me. I don’t relish the thought of tens or hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs. I come from a family where I was at one time expected to be employed at General Motors. Many members of my family worked there. My own brother’s retirement is in jeopardy. No joy there. The heady days of Motown have come to an end as the arrogance of the once proud automakers wring their hands and wonder how it all ended. I can almost hear them now saying, ‘How could this happen? We gave the public everything we told them they wanted!’ I could go on and on about the last 60 years of broken promises that came in the form of prototype concept cars that we really wanted only to be disappointed by their shoe box designs. I could talk about their promises to produce cars with better fuel efficiency and only making incremental progress decade after decade. But what would be the point? That ground has been trampled clean of all signs of life by many others before me so I shall forego those subjects.

So where is the good in all of this evil? If any can be found, it must be in the fact that the demise of the Big Three opens the way for start-up automobile companies like Aptera. Before the demise of the large automakers, I had only a little hope for the Aptera. My reason is that the Big Three have had a long history of smashing the little guy. They effectively killed Tucker Mobile and did everything in their power to beat down Robert Kearns, the man who invented the intermittent windshield wiper, to name two examples. However, monoliths suffer from one major flaw, which is they are as heavy and hard to maneuver as large stones like the term implies. And, once they have been set upon a down-hill course, very little can be done to stop them and the end is usually catastrophic.

Now that the top of the hill is clearing, the smaller younger kids can play up there while the older bigger kids whine at the bottom while clutching their bruised knees and egos. Aptera is one of the front runners to get up that hill. The bullies aren’t paying attention now and won’t be for some time. Now is the time for Aptera and company to make their move.

I don’t like to think of myself as a quitter. Usually I chip away at something until I finish what I am trying to do unless I find the obstacle is truly too large for my skills. This time however, I find that a year after I started this blog, that I gave up on the Aptera project too soon because I believed that the bureaucracy that exists in government was too large to overcome.

It was about this time last year I became discouraged by an article that appeared in autobloggreen.com. It was brief and to the point. The headline read, “Ohio refuses to license electric 3 wheeled vehicles.” For me that said it all. I was done. I didn’t have the time or resources to fight this battle. I felt that I would get nothing but frustration from the effort when I read the reason behind Ohio’s refusal:

Most states classify three-wheelers as motorcycles, but Ohio adds one more item to their definition of a motorcycle: a saddle. This means that three-wheelers which have a normal “car-like” seat are unregisterable as a car, because they have fewer than four wheels, or a motorcycle. -Source Cleveland Plain Dealer_via, autobbloggreen.com.

The law is an ass! – From Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist

Well, I suppose that even an ass can change its stripes… ass? stripes? Never mind the metaphor. Because just like the distance runner that gave up the race just a few feet away from the finish line, I missed the victory. One month later this article appeared at www.wsaz.com with the headline, “3-Wheel car approved in Ohio.” I was elated until I found the law in its new form. Here it is from its source:

http://bmv.ohio.gov/title/title_directives/2008/Title%20Broadcast%2008-0916-53%20Titling%203-wheel%20vehicles.pdf

TO:  ALL CLERKS OF THE COURTS OF COMMON PLEAS TITLE OFFICES

FROM: MIKE RANKIN, REGISTRAR

DATE:  SEPTEMBER 16, 2008

SUBJECT: TITLE BROADCAST 08-0916-53

TITLING 3-WHEEL VEHICLES

House Bill 562 made a change in the definition of “Motorcycle”. ORC 4511.01 ( C )    “Motorcycle” means every motor vehicle, other than a tractor, having a SEAT or saddle for the use of the operator and designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground, including, but not limited to, motor vehicles known as “motor-driven cycle,” “motor scooter,” or “motorcycle” without regard to weight or brake horsepower.

An increasing number of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers are designing a wide variety of vehicles that have three wheels, a bench or bucket seat, a steering wheel, and are enclosed. Some of the new vehicles are gasoline powered and some are electric.  Most of these three-wheel vehicles meet the federal definition of a motorcycle and the federal safety standards. Until now, due to the bench seat, we had not considered titling them or registering them as Motorcycles.

The Title office shall begin on September 23, 2008 to title any three-wheel motor vehicles that meet the federal and the Ohio House Bill 562 definitions, for “motorcycle when presented with proper evidence.

The operators of these vehicles must comply with Ohio’s motor vehicle Laws, including our helmet law. The driver must be properly licensed to operate the vehicle and have a motorcycle license or a motorcycle endorsement on their valid operator’s license, and they must meet Ohio’s financial responsibility laws.

If you have any questions, please contact the Helpdesk and select 3 for Deputy Registrar And Title Support Services, DTS-Title Unit.

Thank you.

Did you catch the part about helmet laws? Here is what the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles has to say about helmets:

No person who is under the age of 18 years, or who holds a motorcycle operator’s endorsement or license bearing a “novice,” shall operate a motorcycle on a high-way, or be a passenger on a motorcycle, unless wearing a protective helmet on his or her head, and no other person shall be a passenger on a motorcycle operated by such a person unless similarly wearing a protective helmet. Source- http://www.bmv.ohio.gov/misc/traffic_rules.htm



I was stumped by the whole idea that you had to wear a helmet and have a motorcycle license to drive an enclosed vehicle until I realized that this was a way of rewriting the law without actually creating a new law for a new vehicle type. They have to keep the seemingly strange rules on the books for other 3 wheeled vehicles like ATVs and custom “trikes”; those three wheeled choppers that seem to be popular with the senior citizen motor cycle gang members. I have a feeling though that most officers of the law are going to have common sense enough to understand the “spirit” of the law and not enforce the letter of the law. However, I will have a helmet behind the seat just in case. I think this may be a good excuse to look really scary in a very alien car. Yes! that’s it! I now have a reason to buy that helmet I wanted to get.


Again, this is late in coming, but I thought I would add it in case you missed it elsewhere. Click HERE to see Jay Leno actually drive the Aptera! This is a great video because it shows Jay Leno standing next to the car which should give you a pretty good feel for how large the car is. According to internet sources, Jay Leno is 5′ 11″ tall and he states that the car is roomy once he gets in the driver seat.

Now some of you may be wondering why you should care about Jay Leno driving the Aptera. Well in case you don’t know already, Jay is a car fanatic. Actually his “garage” is really a museum to automotive history that I think gives the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn Michigan a run for its money. The link  above will take you directly to the Aptera video at Jay’s website rather than the Aptera website. The reason I linked it there was because the video quality was a little better and you can actually make the video full screen as where I was not able to do so at the Aptera website.

Jay was very kind in reviewing while remaining honest. I don’t think he would have given an endorsement to the vehicle the way he did without really meaning it. While you are at Jay’s site, you should check out all of his other cars. Jay Leno’s Garage is one of the most entertaining websites I have ever gone to and it gave me a whole new appreciation for Jay Leno.

For quite some time now I have been following the progress of the solar power industry. I just got word this morning that Heliovolt, a company that has made many advances in Thin Film solar collectors, has a new man at the helm that they hope will take the company in a more positive direction. What does this mean? Who cares? I know that I don’t care until they actually start production and I can get my hands on the stuff to wrap my house in. However, it is still important from the perspective that this technology actually exists. Unlike standard solar cells, Heliovolt’s product can be printed on to thin metal or glass.

One application I read about was one where you could print (just like a computer printer) the material on windows to be used for skyscrapers. The idea being that the windows could power the building.  If printed on thin gauge aluminum sheets you could easily nail this stuff to the roof of your house. But why stop there? why not print aluminum siding with this material? That would effectively make the whole outside of your home a solar collector.

In thinking about this for my home, I realized that perhaps this product could be applied to the outside of an automobile. An automobile like say… The Aptera? Rather than having one big solar collector on the top of the car, why not print the skin of the Aptera with this solar collecting material? I think by doing that you would increase the solar collection efficiency quite a bit especially if the sun is at a low angle in the morning or evening hours.

Not being expert on this new material I have to say that I may be wrong about being able to print solar collection material on the body of the of the Aptera so don’t get your hopes up at my, “What if” statements. None the less, it is food for thought.

Something has been bothering me about the 2010 Prius. I like the car. I like the looks and the advanced electronics in the dashboard and head unit. I like the roof that collects solar energy for the air conditioning. I like the…(play sound of needle scratching across the surface of a phonographic record) SOLAR POWERED AIR CONDITIONING?! Hey! isn’t that something that the Aptera had first? Yes, I do believe it is! Unless I am missing something here, I think it may be possible that Toyota may have taken a page out of the Aptera playbook.  Can they do that? Is that fair? Part of me thinks it isn’t fair. Yet, another part of me thinks I need to keep my cool and do a search for prior art on this subject before I make rash statements or worse yet get arrested for going to the next North American Auto Show in Detroit and creating a scene by testing to see if the Prius solar collector can operate from under a 500 pound pile of horse manure. Solar power isn’t a new idea. Powering air conditioning (in your home) isn’t a new idea. Powering a car with solar power is not new. So is it a huge leap to put a solar power collector on the roof of a car to power a portion of the car? In my mind, not really. However, I am about fairness. I think it would be nice if the people at Toyota acknowledged all of the people that did the pioneering work that made their new Prius possible. The Aptera was not the first car I ever saw with a solar panel, but I feel it was the first truly viable car that didn’t look stupid because of the panel.  In saying this I can’t say I am angry at Toyota but I am concerned that they may get credit for this innovative idea because they were the first to make it available on a grand scale. So rather than get mad and spread my own special brand of hate, I will respond to those who ask, “Have you seen the solar panel on the new Prius?” with a mildly smarmy response, Yes, but the Aptera had one first.  (Insert video of me drinking a vodka martini while looking blankly at nothing to my upper right).

For those of you out there who have been looking in on this blog from time to time (and it hasn’t been many) It will be a shock for you to see a new post. I looked in on it today for the first time in a long time to see if I was even interested in keeping it alive. I discovered that over a year has passed since my last post. I have watched idly from the sidelines as others blogged about the Aptera using information they received from the “legitimate press”. I stopped blogging because I was bored with doing the same thing other people had been doing which was regurgitating better blogs.

That said, I wanted to say that I am very happy to see that the company is still living on even after a year. Especially now in a time when our economy is in chaos and my IRA has just enough money in it to purchase an Aptera. I may need the Aptera to live in if the economic downturn continues at its current rate. Bad times aside, the Aptera is for me a symbol of what we can become as a people. More caring and courteous to each other and our planet. Even if this car doesn’t become successful on its own, I would have to say that it will be recognized in the long run as the car that made us realize that 100 MPG is not an impossibility.

Note to Steve Fambro: Dear Steve, I still dream of owning your car. Even though I purchased a 2008 Prius and still get about 50 MPG with it, I want more. The Aptera has what I want and I want it now! Please keep the dream alive Steve!