A Dutch car company has unveiled what it claims is the world’s first long-range solar-powered car.
Lightyear says its Lightyear One model, which was unveiled in prototype form earlier this week, will be one of the most advanced yet sustainable cars on sale when it hits the market in 2021.
The company’s claims for the car are bold – only right given its £106,5000 price tag.
It says that the One will offer a 450-mile range and will be able to generate up to 12,000 miles worth of energy per year from its solar panels “depending on the climate”.
In other words, don’t expect to get a 33-mile boost every day here in cloud-ridden Britain.
However, even in the depths of winter with the heating on, the firm reckons the car will manage a Tesla-bothering 250 miles.
Easing range anxiety
Revealing the car, Lex Hoefsloot, CEO and co-founder of Lightyear said: “The main goal of the car is to fill in where electric cars fall short.
“Research has shown that range and the lack of charging options are still the top concerns that people have when considering electric cars.
“We are solving these issues with what we call ultra-efficiency. On one hand, that will lead to an exceptional range of 725km (WLTP) on a relatively small battery. On the other hand, it can charge directly from the sun because its energy consumption is much lower.”
As well as a five-square-metre array of solar panels on the car’s roof and bonnet, the Lightyear One will also be able to use traditional EV charging infrastructure, but Hoefsloot says that the solar-charging support means drivers will be able to charge faster from any outlet.
He claims that an overnight charge on a standard 230V socket could add up to 250 miles of range.
The car is powered by four electric motors, one mounted at each wheel. Lightyear says this arrangement improves efficiency as no energy is lost in the transmission of power to the wheel.
Hoefsloot added: “Climate change is one of the biggest problems that we humans have faced in our history. It is such a frightening development that it is almost paralyzing. We decided to do the opposite; as engineers, we believed we could do something. Lightyear One represents a huge opportunity to change mobility for the better.”
Lightyear was founded in 2016 by alumni of Solar Team Eindhoven, which won the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in 2013, 2015 and 2017, and now has more than 100 employees including former Ferrari and Tesla engineers.
The firm says it already has 100 orders for the Lightyear One but that the expensive four-door fastback is just the start for the technology.
According to Hoefsloot, the One’s price reflects the cost of developing a lot of new technology but it will be followed by more mainstream models with “significantly lower” prices.