Solar cars have been around for a while as a concept. But they were merely showpieces, intended to pique people’s interest. They never progressed beyond prototypes. But now, Lightyear, an EV firm located in the Netherlands, has recently shown what it claims is the world’s first production-ready solar automobile.
At an event this week in the Netherlands, Lightyear unveiled its first solar-powered electric vehicle, the Lightyear 0. The car, which Lightyear touts as “production-ready,” has a range of 388 miles, with 44 miles obtained solely from solar power.
The Lightyear 0 is the fruit of its engineering team’s six years of research and development. However, it doesn’t appear to be different to the company’s stylish sedan concept, which was initially exhibited in 2019. However, the vehicle’s fundamental shape and design remain primarily unchanged.
This vehicle stands noteworthy because of the inclusion of solar panels, which is uncommon in the automobile industry. The Lightyear 0 has “patented, double curve solar panels” covering five square metres (53.8 square feet), allowing it to charge itself while driving or simply sitting in the sun. Individuals with a daily commute of just about 35 kilometres (21 miles) might travel for months without needing to recharge their vehicle.
“In climates such as the Netherlands, it would be two months and, in Spain or Portugal, as much as seven months,” Lightyear claims.
Lightyear 0 has a 60-kilowatt-hour battery pack and four electric motors that provide 174 horsepower and 1,269 pound-feet of torque. According to Lightyear, the vehicle would accelerate from zero to 62 mph in ten seconds and achieve a top speed of 100 mph, significantly less than most electric vehicles on the market.
The interior is fairly simple, with a hint towards sustainability. Microfiber upholstery, plant-based leather, textiles created from recycled bottles, rattan palm wood trim, and insulated particle foam are all 100 percent vegan. A droid Automotive, Google’s native operating system, is used in the 10.1-inch centre touchscreen. Lightyear 0 also has high-tech thrills and frills, such as phone-as-key, over-the-air software updates, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Lightyear claims that just 946 units will be produced, each costing €250,000 (about USD 263,262).
It is not easy to use solar cells to power an electric automobile. T e quantity of solar energy that the best cells can gather and what is required to propel the vehicle at high speeds is different. However, Lightyear appears to be further ahead than others. T ere’s a spec sheet and a production schedule available. lmet Automotive, a Finnish contract manufacturer, is even a manufacturing partner for the company.
However, Lightyear’s success in the game is not guaranteed since the EV industry is littered with the ruins of EV companies that had great future aspirations but lost to the harsh realities of car production. Building electric vehicles are exceedingly challenging, and Lightyear isn’t the only one looking for a game-changing new form factor.