The idea of a solar-powered car has been floated a number of times over the last few years, but past attempts have generally fallen into the basket of good ideas that just don't work in the real world. According to the Netherlands-based Lightyear, that's all set to change. The company says its first car, called the One, will be an electric four-wheel drive with a range of 800 km (497 mi) .
At the moment, details about the Lightyear One are incredibly thin on the ground. The company is planning a complete reveal in 2018, ahead of its market debut in 2019. All we have to work with at the moment are a few (very bold) claims about potential range and a selection of shadowy renders, so everything should be taken with a massive grain of salt at the moment.
According to Lightyear, owners who live in warm, sunny climates will be able to drive their car for months on end without ever plugging into a wall socket. Of course, if there's no sun owners will be able to charge up with a regular wall plug. Lex Hoefsloot, Lightyear CEO, says the One will be able to operate effectively when there isn't any sunlight – think cloudy days or night time – thanks to the largest battery option offering that aforementioned 800-km range.
Compared to current capabilities, that range is absolutely huge. The Tesla Model S with a 100-kWh battery pack has a maximum range of 613 km (or 315 mi under EPA testing) on the EPA drive cycle, and Lucid Motors is quoting (644 km) 400 mi from its 130-kWh model. Unless it's sitting on some incredible unseen battery technology, Lightyear will need to use a seriously big battery pack, which means the One will be a seriously heavy car.
Should it reach production, the car itself will be a sedan with four-wheel drive. Its silhouette looks similar to that of the Lucid Air, while the taillights could have been lifted from a Hyundai Elantra. Solar panels clearly run to the back of the car's roof and boot lid, and there are some distinctive vents cut into the rear bumper.
Despite a distinct lack of detail behind its claims, and the fact solar-assisted cars like the Sono Motors Sion haven't exactly caught on, Lightyear seems incredibly confident in its One. A limited number of pre-order slots have been opened up, but anyone who wants to get their hands on the car will need to spend €119,000 (US$137,000).
The company is planning on delivering the first cars to the US and Europe.