Automotive

Lightyear 0 production solar car could run for months without charging

Lightyear 0 production solar c...
Lightyear has revealed a production-ready and EU-approved solar-electric car
Lightyear has revealed a production-ready and EU-approved solar-electric car
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Lightyear has revealed a production-ready and EU-approved solar-electric car
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Lightyear has revealed a production-ready and EU-approved solar-electric car
With smooth wheel covers and a very slippery shape, this fastback has the lowest drag coefficient of any family car in history
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With smooth wheel covers and a very slippery shape, this fastback has the lowest drag coefficient of any family car in history
The tail is all about low-drag aeros and maximum ray-catching
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The tail is all about low-drag aeros and maximum ray-catching
The Lightyear 0 carries five square meters of high-efficiency solar panels on its hood and fastback roof
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The Lightyear 0 carries five square meters of high-efficiency solar panels on its hood and fastback roof
Lightyear claims the 0 is so efficient that it uses just 10.5 kWh per 100 km at 110 km/h highway speeds
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Lightyear claims the 0 is so efficient that it uses just 10.5 kWh per 100 km at 110 km/h highway speeds
Vegan interior makes use of recycled PET bottles, among other things
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Vegan interior makes use of recycled PET bottles, among other things
Tidy three-seat
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Tidy three-seat second row
10.1-inch infotainment tablet on a pretty clean dash
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10.1-inch infotainment tablet on a pretty clean dash
0-100 km/h in 10 seconds ... A performance machine this ain't
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0-100 km/h in 10 seconds ... A performance machine this ain't
Under ideal conditions, the 0's solar roof will contribute up to 70 km of range per day
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Under ideal conditions, the 0's solar roof will contribute up to 70 km of range per day
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Dutch company Lightyear has unveiled what it claims is the world's first production-ready solar car. The Lightyear 0 is a family sedan with 5 sq m (53.8 sq ft) of solar panels built in, capable of generating up to 70 km (44 miles) of charge-free driving a day.

Having scaled its workforce up to 500 people and hooked up deals with more than 100 suppliers, Lightyear is deadly serious about this venture and ready to start manufacturing. Its first car is this four-door fastback electric sedan, with enough onboard battery to deliver a very solid 560 km (348 miles) of freeway driving at 110 km/h (68 mph), even without the sun shining.

That's a pretty impressive number; in WLTP testing, the Lightyear 0 delivers 625 km (388 miles) of range, or nearly 4 percent more than Tesla's Model 3 Long Range AWD. Lightyear says it's developed the most efficient electric drivetrain ever, and that these range figures come from a battery pack holding just 60 kWh. For comparison, the Model 3 Long Range AWD is reported to run an 82-kWh pack.

Lightyear claims the 0 is so efficient that it uses just 10.5 kWh per 100 km at 110 km/h highway speeds
Lightyear claims the 0 is so efficient that it uses just 10.5 kWh per 100 km at 110 km/h highway speeds

So even if that WLTP range is a fair way short of what the company was hoping for during high-speed testing back in February, the Lightyear still pulls more range out of significantly less battery than the Tesla, using just 10.5 kWh per 100 km (62 miles) while doing 110 km/h on the highway. Part of this comes down to low drag; Lightyear says the 0's drag coefficient of 0.19 makes it the most aerodynamic family car ever built. Part of it comes from specially developed Bridgestone tires designed to reduce rolling resistance.

But part of it also comes from a deliberate focus on efficiency at the expense of performance: the 0 takes a full 10 seconds to accelerate from 0-100 km/h, and will top out at just 160 km/h (99 mph). Tesla has trained us to expect hair-raising acceleration, and the Model 3 Long Range AWD can get you to 100 in four seconds flat on the way to a top speed of 233 km/h (145 mph). Lightyear has no interest in playing these games. It'll feel flat-out slow next to a Tesla.

But it'll spend far less time on a charger. Solar panels can't give you a full battery charge on a sunny day, but they can certainly make a contribution – and here's where Lightyear's efficiency-first approach pays off. Under ideal conditions, the solar panels covering the hood and the fastback roof can chip in up to 1.05 kW of constant trickle charging.

The Lightyear 0 carries five square meters of high-efficiency solar panels on its hood and fastback roof
The Lightyear 0 carries five square meters of high-efficiency solar panels on its hood and fastback roof

Over the course of a full summer's day, Lightyear says that can power up to 70 km of driving. That's twice as far as the lightning-quick Roman legions could march in a day. Add in a fully topped-up battery, and Lightyear says that if your daily commute's less than 50 km (31 miles), you can run this thing for months, and thousands of kilometers, before needing to plug it in.

The solar charging can contribute up to 10 km (6.2 miles) of range per hour. On a household plug, it'll charge at 32 km/h (20 mph), and it'll fast-charge at up to 520 km/h (323 mph) where the infrastructure's available.

The rest of the car looks ... well, fine, I suppose. Seats for five, plenty of luggage space, and the vegan interior, made out of plant-based leather, recycled PET bottles and rattan palm, looks nice enough. There's a 10.1-inch touchscreen to handle navigation and infotainment, and it's all pretty cushy-looking.

10.1-inch infotainment tablet on a pretty clean dash
10.1-inch infotainment tablet on a pretty clean dash

For a reality check, the solar charging figures above all assume the system's performing at its absolute peak, and as anyone who runs rooftop solar can tell you, it's rare to have your system smashing out peak power. So it'll be fascinating to learn how well this thing does the job in real-world conditions over the course of a year.

The Lightyear 0 is also ludicrously, unforgivably expensive. Only 946 will be built, with deliveries to start in November, and each one's asking a ridiculous €250,000 (US$266,000). Should they sell, the company says it'll be set up and ready to move forward with a solar car for the people, with a starting price point of €30,000 (US$32,000) and a target production date around the start of 2025. We feel like we've heard this one before. Ah well, I guess there's always the little Squad solar car for US$6,500, or the Sono Sion solar hatch for US$31,000.

Still, Lightyear's hyper-efficient machine definitely brings some goodies to the table, and it's an intriguing first offering from a company that seems genuinely ready to give solar motoring a proper shot. Check out the launch party below.

A Bright Horizon — Global Premiere of the World's First Solar Car

Source: Lightyear

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17 comments
17 comments
Robt
The asking price for this first run is irrelevant to them - they are trying to prove a point
-dphiBbydt
I'd no idea that a Roman Legion March per Day was an official unit of distance. My round trip commute is 0.7 RLM/day - so I'm good to go for a Lightyear.
Chase
So the specific use-case for this car is somebody with lots of money, but no garage or carport, who lives in an area that receives much sun but isn't in the united states (because side-view cameras instead of mirrors have not been approved by the NHTSA yet) and doesn't mind slowing to a crawl on an offramp due to very low resistance tires. K.

That said, it doesn't look half bad. Ditch the solar panels and put some better rubber on those wheels and it might make the short list for my next car in a few years.
guzmanchinky
An interesting design study, as long as you live somewhere with lots of sun.
TedTheJackal
I assume the solar panels are for everyone who has $266,000 to spend on a car but whose house doesn't have electricity yet, but otherwise this is what the Tesla should have been- lower drag and normal power, which would have lowered the price significantly and upped the sales.
WB
0 to 100 in 10s is a security risk plain and simple, regardless what efficiency you get. And I would call BS on those charging hype figures. Unless you drive this thing in the Sahara.. you maybe get 5-10miles out of it a day.. mark my words. A press release is easy.. lets have this properly tested.
EJ222
Well one issue is that it's 4000lb.

AG4000
How could you leave out mentioning Aptera, which you wrote about not too long ago? For those that don't know, you can pre-order one for 1/10th the price of this ($25,900). It has a 250-mile range, and solar charging. With some pretty reasonably priced options, you can get extra solar which can give up to 40 miles of range per day, AWD which can get you 0-60 in 3.5 sec rather than the base of 0-60 in 5.5 sec, or range up to 1,000 miles! It even has a trunk big enough they sell a camping kit so you can sleep in it with the hatch open. I think Aptera is the benchmark people need to start comparing to.
Eddy
Tesla has marketed their cars as rocketships but I think electric buyers would be happy with standard acceleration as this one provides and therefore more range. Not everyone wants to floor it on the school or grocery run which is usually it's greatest use. Not sure about the insurance risk and cost though if it has to be left out somewhere in the sun all day.
BanisterJH
Three things come to mind. The first is that "up to" always translates for me as "not more than." The second is wondering about the use case for an expensive car optimized for range. Crossing the Sahara? If you optimize for range, then you sacrifice acceleration, convenience functions (eg air conditioning), etc. For fuel driving vehicles, these are called economy cars, and the benefit is saving on fuel cost, but saving on fuel is seldom a primary automotive goal for people willing to spend >$200k on a car. The third thing that comes to mind is that I'd like to see what benefit the solar charging provides when the car is tested by a third party, who has it do a normal amount of acceleration and deceleration and driving up and down hills and parking in town. A quick, back of the envelope calculation about how long one has to park to gain benefit from driving up to the rooftop parking of a parking garage might be fun (I'm sure it would be dependent on the number of stories and the length of the loops.).
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